How Close Are We to Telecom as a Service?
In part 1 of this article, we started investigating the idea of telecom as a service. We took a deep dive into the rise of the “as a service” sector, describing and charting the current state and projected growth of SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), and IaaS (infrastructure as a service). In a certain sense, these trends reflect the overall virtualization of the tech economy, with the billionaire-driven behemoths seeking ways to defend or expand their empires during an era of cost optimization by pushing cloud services over physical assets.
The moves of Microsoft, for instance, have prevented it from falling into the trash bin of silicon history. By untethering their fortune from the stagnant growth of personal computers, they’ve turned their Office suite into a SaaS cash cow, with over 110 million commercial and consumer monthly active users on Office365. On the IaaS side, their Azure cloud server service has seen over 90% year-over-year growth.
But where does the concept of telecom as a service fit into the picture? And how should you read these signs on the wall to make the best decisions for your business?
Telecom as InfrastructureRoughly 60% of IT budgets are still earmarked for on-premise infrastructure, ranging from servers to storage, and SIP phones to Ethernet switches. However, that percentage is on the decline and is expected to continue drooping while cloud-based infrastructure sails skyward with double-digit growth over the next five years.
While there is likely a minimum level of IT infrastructure each company still requires—in SIP and VoIP, it often revolves around bandwidth—the current state of telecom as a service has reached a point where the decision between on-premise, cloud-based, or hybrid implementations no longer hinges on a disparity in feature sets. Most of these core capabilities can be delivered by reputable providers, whether it’s a physical install or a web-based deployment:
- Auto-Dialer and Predictive Dialer
- Call Center Management
- Call Monitoring
- Contact Management
- Inbound Reporting
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) / Voice Recognition
- Outbound Reporting
- Telemarketing Management
- Voice & Data Integration
Telecom as a ServiceTo differentiate the providers, you’ll need to dig deeper to see how their telecom as a service offering can give you the security, support, and peace of mind needed to cleanly make the jump from on-premise to the cloud, if you’re ready. For example, how do they improve quality of service (QoS) by reducing delay, decreasing packet loss, and stabilizing jitter? Can they provide information on network conditions and trends which might improve your connections and terminations?
While it’s important that the provider can meet the requirements of your service level agreements, these deep integrations require something more. They require trust. And trust can only come from a vendor who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you and fulfill their role as a partner. You don’t want to be just another account in a vendor’s CRM.
The Cost-Benefit AnalysisReturning readers may know how often we return to the theme of looking beyond the immediate budgetary impact of telecom decisions. The reason is that many of the occupants sitting in the C-Suite stop listening after hearing how much they can potentially save by switching to SIP or trading in their on-premise PBX for a cloud-based PBX, like our end-to-end 3CX IP PBX service. Once they hear the answer to, “How much will it cost?”, the follow-up question is typically, “How quickly can we make it happen?” Or, “Why didn’t you suggest this last year?”
It’s critical to not only understand the short and long-term impacts of any cost optimization measure but to ensure these efforts align with the problems that your company’s products and services are tailored to solve. Cloud-based services are often designed to meet the widest array of customer needs, so you could be flooded with capabilities you and your employees don’t need or can’t use. You may find yourself looking at three-column grids (e.g., Basic, Premium, Elite) with checkmarks next to a lengthy laundry list of features, some of which you don’t understand and/or wouldn’t pay for if you had the choice. Think about the average cable or satellite TV channel lineup, and how many you would get rid of if it would lower your monthly bill. So, where does telecom as a service fall on the spectrum?
Man-Hours and the Limits of Future-ProofingVoIP and SIP technology often mirror the features and functions of the software you see on your smartphone and laptop. Our phones have conditioned us to upgrade so that we always have the most current operating system or the latest version of a game or an app. This capability allows us to future-proof our devices, at least until the software advances beyond the point that the hardware can support it.
From an IT standpoint, the end of physical installations and station-by-station upgrades has been a blessing. However, the move from on-premise to cloud-based SaaS services also means that, rather than dealing with a single initial setup, you’re facing an unpredictable avalanche of updates, hotfixes, and point releases which may require significant training and internal support. Salesforce, for instance, has three major releases every year, and in their Summer 2017 release they:
- Modified their list of supported browsers
- Radically redesigned their user interface
- Incorporated new artificial intelligence capabilities
- Added the ability to build collaborative reports and enhanced their analytics system
Contact us today to learn more about how we provide the extensive documentation, advice, engineering support, and collaboration tools your team needs to build and customize software solutions to meet your business requirements.