May 10, 2010

Be Your Own Telecom Analyst: 3 Critical Questions for Your Business is a new business destination where business professionals can help each other with their purchasing and other business decisions by:
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I came across a recent discussion thread at that offers valuable insight into "How best to align IT-related actions at your company with business goals and needs."

By: Michael E. Dortch


A recent discussion thread at offers some valuable insight into how best to align IT-related actions at your company with business goals and needs. It also demonstrates how online communities such as Focus can help users to be their own IT industry analysts by connecting directly with other users and experts.


Mark, a member of the Focus community, recently asked, “What is the best way to accomplish this vision for my phone system?” Mark said that he has a company of approximately 50 people and “an old but very reliable PBX. My vision is that I want to incorporate all our communications behind a hosted solution but it has to accommodate both cell phones and some type of desk phone as end points.”

Mark received several answers from community members who happen to work for companies that supply modern telephone systems and services. However, Focus Expert Todd Hodgen took a step back and actually addressed the original question directly, instead of leading with any kind of sales pitch. And the Focus community responded appropriately, giving more “thumbs-up” to Mr. Hodgen’s answer than to any other (and giving several “thumbs-down” votes to some of the more “sales-y” responses).

Go to "Be Your Own IT Analyst Thread on"

Here is my comments on this thread
I would add tech support as an additional key feature, especially if you are a small business or do not have an in-house telecommunications staff. VoIP opens up a wide range of features that will allow even small companies to create a state-of-the-art telecommunications solution that was previously only available to very large and well capitalized companies. The problem is, you have to understand how to use these features and this is why support from your VoIP Service Provider is so critical. After all it is their system, and they are in the best position to provide this information.

I have seen many companies implement a VoIP system and simply recreate their old PBX's. This is fine, but they are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to increase productivity and improve customer support (usually without increasing their monthly expense).

The possibilities are endless, but here are a few examples;
  1. Hire more remote or home based employees. With a Hosted VoIP system it is easy and in expensive to incorporate these people into your telecom system. All they need is a IP Phone set. 
  2. Increase tech support hours without incurring overtime. You can easily add support people on the east coast, mid west and west coast. This increases your hours of coverage with out incurring overtime. It also allows you to tap into a wider talent pool. Jet Blue has mostly home based reservation agents. 
  3. Have a single receptionist answer calls for multiple locations. This is very beneficial, especially if you have several receptionists and none are at full capacity. A VoIP phone system also makes it easy to transfer the receptionist duties from one person to another without the back up person having to sit at the primary receptionist's desk. In fact, there is no need for the person sitting at the front desk to be the person that answers your phone. It has always been this way, but it does not need to be. You could assign the phone answering person to any employee in your organization, including a home based employee.
  4. Easily integrate mobile phones into your system. I do not need to give out my mobile number. The voice mail system on our system allows callers to press 0 from within my voice mail box to transfer the call to my cell phone. My cell phone greeting is as follows; This in Neal Gilbert, I am not at my desk right now, but if you leave your name, number and a brief message, I will call you back as soon as I can. If this is urgent, press 0 and the system will transfer this call to my cell phone.
Earlier in my career, I was with a company that had a main office and several smaller satellite/branch offices and were adding new locations on a fairly regular basis. We had to purchase a phone system for each location and manage the relationship with the local phone company. In addition to this being expensive, it was a nightmare to manage. Eventually, we implemented a Hosted VoIP phone system.

The VoIP system allowed us to easily set up the phone system in each of these branches without having to buy a complete phone system. This also saved us the hassle and expense of having to set up accounts at each of the local phone companies.

All that we needed to do was to mail the IP phones to these branches (which are plug and play) and the office has a phone system that was part of the main company phone system including all of the functions of the system. The set up of a new phone system in a branch generally took a couple of hours and could be implemented in a week from the time we decided to add a new branch.

In addition to the ease of implementation and limited costs, there are a lot of benefits that enabled these branches to grow and feel like they were part of the company.

Some of the benefits to the branches were;
  1. Employees from each of these locations can call each other by dialing extensions and these calls are free as they were inter company. 
  2. Each of these branches were able to transfer customers to the main office if that was required as opposed to telling a customer to hang up and dial a number. 
  3. It allowed a new branch to have the look and feel of a much larger company as opposed to an appearing as an "outpost". 
  4. A single receptionist can answer the phones of multiple branches allowing the sharing of resources.
These are just some of benefits, including those discuss by the author of this post that are easily attainable by any size company.
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