Delivering the true potential of Skype for Business through Hosting.
Unified communications (UC) is here to stay – tying together all manner of platforms and products such as telephony, conferencing, messaging, presence & IM, communications-enabled applications and productivity tools, most notably Microsoft Office.
However, no matter where you’re starting from, implementing a truly unified communications platform across an organisation is not a task to be taken lightly, despite the undoubted appeal of having a single point of management. Just how do you ensure you’re getting everything it offers and maximum reliability?
Many organisations have already put aspects of UC in place but few have fully embraced. Telephony is often the missing link. Historically the telephony knowledge base has been held separately from the IT team, and it still remains separate in most situations where new UC systems are deployed.
In addition, setting up an on-premises solution can be prohibitively expensive, requiring a large initial CapEx outlay. And, above all, if phone calls are to work reliably over the internet and all the other tools are to work well, the underlying platform needs to be truly fit-for-purpose, including for instance private connectivity.
All of which points to a hosted and managed solution as being an ideal way forward. Hosted Skype for Business, for example, offers all the practical benefits of a UC system for a predictable, regular financial outlay and without the need to hire additional skills.
But, as Gartner notes, the stakes for enterprise decision makers are high when choosing a unified communications solution. Simply opting for a hosted solution is not enough to address the skills and costs issues, as not all hosted systems are created equal. Likewise, choosing Office 365 and Microsoft Cloud PBX will not, as you might assume, deliver the same level of features that you can find by working with a hosting expert.
Any cloud-based service should offer proper resilience, adequate redundancy, security and disaster recovery as your business depends on having these systems available 24/7 – which points to seeking out an ISP that can provide private connectivity from your premises directly into its data centres, for example.
A hosted service worth its salt will also be able to provide integration with Office 365, with additional features, such as call recording, full call centre features and advanced interactive voice responses.
The benefits of UC are well documented and the technology underpinning it is mature. So a final key method to distinguish between hosting providers is to look at their reputation and reliability. ‘Unified Communications as a Service’ (UCaaS) could hugely sharpen your competitive edge, but you have to choose carefully.