Hosted Voice: Part II

By Marc Tribbe

Hosted Voice, beyond just a single business presence to a user, also brings additional inherent capabilities to the business:

  • Seamless location integration to tie your branch offices and users together
    • Everyone in the company cannot only see one another across locations, but can simply extension-dial each other as one company.
  • Having an Automatic Disaster Recovery plan
    • Since all calls are going through the ‘Cloud’ or ‘Hosted Service’ now vs. a premises-based phone system in a back closet, the ‘Hosted Voice’ system knows if your location (or even phone) is there or not.  If not, these calls can be configured to redirect to another number.
  • Mobility – Anywhere, Any time, on Any device
    • You have a business phone on your desk, a mobile phone in your pocket, and a new tablet in your briefcase, a laptop, and a desktop computer.  Let’s face it, this is a lot of hardware and there is a good chance they probably don’t talk or sync to one another.  They should, and they can.
  • Application and Integration availability
    • In my previous post, I described a real scenario, which shows the power of integrating not only your devices together, but also how a ‘hosted business presence’ can trigger such events, seamlessly.

This is what others are saying about Hosted Voice / Hosted VoIP (Voice over IP):

Wikipedia:

“Voice over IP (VoIP) is a family of technologies, methodologies, communication protocols, and transmission techniques for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet.”

PCmag.com:

“Calls can be made and received using regular phones with adapters, IP phones or computers.  A hosted VoIP service provides a “virtual IP PBX” for an organization without requiring a physical PBX.”

Cisco’s Blog:

“A hosted voice service…is the great equalizer.  All employees, no matter where they’re working, have access to the same calling and messaging features through the hosted voice service, including extension dialing and conferencing.”

I Google as much as the next guy, and while I don’t disagree with these definitions, I would like to apply their definitions to my business.

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What is Hosted Voice? Part I

By Marc Tribbe

If you haven’t heard it before, Telovations is a next-generation communications company innovating the way you communicate, one cloud at a time.

But what does that really mean?

Traditionally, ‘Hosted Voice’ has been considered as just a replacement to a traditional phone system in the back closet of your office.  I do not disagree with this, but I see Hosted Voice more as your business presence vs. just a business line replacement. By turning a phone line into your entire business presence, you can take advantage of other services and features that are far more than just ‘voice.’

For example, just the other day…

A call came in on my business number on my way to work, which also rang my mobile. I picked up the call on my mobile, and when I walked into my office I picked up my office desk phone.  Next, I hit a key and moved the call instantly to my office line without disrupting the conversation.  I then opened my laptop, logged into Salesforce.com (another hosted solution) and it popped up the record of the person I was speaking with because it recognized the caller. Meanwhile, the caller happened to say “I escalated a ticket last month” which then immediately sent an alert email to our call center supervisor.  This occurred because our ‘hosted’ recording platform picked up the word “escalated” during our conversation.

The story doesn’t end there, but I tell you this story because, to me, this is the power of ‘hosted voice.’ As you can see, ‘hosted voice’ all started with one phone call coming in on, yes, my business line, but triggered events on other ‘hosted’ applications that are associated with my business presence.

‘Hosted Voice’ now means making it easier for you to communicate – and even collaborate – and it’s finally bringing some meaning to true ‘Unified Communications’.  It really can make you more productive in real life scenarios.

Changing The Way We Think About Telecom

By Mark Swanson

Over the past decade, the Telecommunications Industry as we know it has undergone fundamental changes which have changed the ways business use services. The “Old” structure was based on the tight integration of critical communication functionality – primarily around voice services. These services were provided by a very limited set of players, with the core of the network supplying a tightly integrated set of limited features, and consumers, at the edge, consuming them. Success for the incumbents was based on owning the core. However, the advent of Voice over IP coupled with ubiquity of the Internet has decoupled service and delivery. As a result a plethora of new services, features and functionality has dramatically changed the way businesses are able to operate. Think mobility, distributed communication, and real-time metrics. As a result, a new set of communications service providers has emerged where ownership of the core and edge are no longer meaningful in driving innovations and business models of the future.

The last decade has birthed a large number of innovative, next generation communications services companies that are reshaping the landscape of the telecommunications industry. Starting with the rollout of Skype in 2003, innovative firms around the world have been launching edge based services that are completely changing the dynamics of the telecommunications services industry. Innovative companies like Angel.com, inGenious, DemandVoice, Twillio, Voxeo, have launched with very little investment and have generated significant value by leveraging the decoupling of services on the edge from the core network. These low cost, well targeted and innovative products have lead to the realization among carriers that voice is fast becoming a commodity and the real value of these services are the customer facing applications that impact customers business models.

However, demands on the core have also skyrocketed as these services mostly depend on an efficient and effective network to deliver the value they promise. New Internet services such as YouTube, NetFlix and Vimeo are flooding the Internet with trillions of packets of video each day generating ever increasing demands for bandwidth and intelligent technology to manage this demand. Today, YouTube alone consumes over three times as much bandwidth as the entire Internet consumed a decade ago. Without proper “management” of this network, many value added services will just get drowned in a sea of Data measured in PetaBytes – that’s a million times a Gigabyte.

Success for the communications company of the future is managing the delivery of this innovation. Speed comes by implementing changes in the technology, business, and regulatory space to deliver real value to the customer. Previously scarce resources, such as servers and networks, have become easily and widely available, reducing the barrier of entry for new players.  As a result, like Skype, most of these services emerged in the consumer market, where bleeding edge services are not subject to the five nine requirements of a business. However, the most important questions for a business customer, in particular for new services, are does it provide me a competitive value proposition and does it work?

The issue of network control is key for evaluating the success of innovation.  It has to work. Innovation became possible by being able to flexibly place control points throughout the communication infrastructure. Consequently, methods for evaluating the future value chain need to take this flexibility into account. With this, it seems obvious that constructs like core and edge within the communication networks no longer suffice to lay out the possible future industry value chain. These services have to be managed.  Ownership of the core network established the current industry incumbent and their success. Creating an easy to use user interface to deliver decoupled services where the guarantee of delivery is paramount is the key to success for a new breed of teleco

Does your IT team have CDD?

by Mark Swanson

No one can argue against the fact that the depth and breadth of business technologies in use today has gotten, well, much deeper and wider in the last decade. Ten years ago, IT teams primarily worried about desktops, servers and network connectivity. The corporate marketing department primarily managed websites as ‘brochureware,’ smart phones did not exist, only one out of 10 computers were portable laptops, and there was a ‘phone guy’ who managed the phone system.

Today, the situation is dramatically different. Not only do IT teams have to manage traditional IT services, but they also must corral all the new information technologies that have emerged in the past decade. The expanding list of new technologies is growing faster than the national debt — smart phones, tablet computers, remote desktops, VPNs, VoIP, the cloud, the list goes on and on.

“This has led to a condition among CIOs and IT managers that I refer to as competency deficit disorder (CDD).” I define CDD as the inability to manage the various technologies that you choose to deploy in your business. It happens when IT’s focus moves from delivering strategic value to the business to pursuing an agenda of buying technologies as a response to management’s obsession with cost control. When you choose to purchase based only on cost, you make dumb decisions like buying cheap while at the same time paring down your IT staff and bringing previously outsourced services in house. The result is your remaining staff runs around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to fix things that break more often and that they have little or no training on. It’s like a never-ending tsunami of problems. These keep you from focusing on the projects that move the business forward.

How does the emergence of cloud technologies impact CDD? The cloud is the solution to CDD. Well, not quite, but the availability of cloud-based IT solutions offers some cures for CDD. One primary benefit is the reduction in wasted software licenses. A 2001 study claimed that 30 percent of software that companies bought was never even deployed — costing businesses an astonishing $130 billion. The primary reason was that IT personnel did not have the time to develop a competency to get the software up and running. The great advantage of Software as a Service (SaaS) is that you can start with one seat, try it out, and if it works, scale from there. If not, turn it off.

Another big cure is the ability to have a support staff that knows the product when you need it. A lot of times when a system breaks, it might not have been touched for months. Your support staff might not even remember the log-in password. You can’t have competency in a system that is barely used and you can’t afford to pay someone to maintain that expertise. I have Cisco Certified Engineers on staff that cost more than $100,000 and use that skill every day. The point is to choose — narrowly — the systems your IT team should focus on and find good cloud-based providers who have that competency for the rest.