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Should you still trust Avaya with your business phones?

Posted on Wed, Feb 14, 2018

The Private Branch Exchange (PBX) telephone system has been at the heart of business communications for a long time. Too long, in fact. In a world of mobile working, rapid market changes, rising customer and employee expectations and increasing business collaboration, traditional phone systems no longer match modern business needs.

Click here to answer the question – Should You Still Trust Avaya with Your Business Phones? – and discover why you should switch to a solution that is:

  • Flexible and easy to use
  • Scalable
  • Mobile worker supportive
  • Integrated with IT systems
  • Resilient
  • Low maintenance

To find out how switching from legacy Avaya systems to Universal Connectivity can free up your business to be more competitive, connect with us today.

Let's Connect! 

Universal Connectivity is a full-service Unified Communications as a Service (UCaas) provider. We offer VoIP business phone solutions along with IP fax, teleconferencing and contact center platforms. We partner exclusively with Polycom for IP desk and conference room phones. As “Your Link to Your World” we strive to work cooperatively to help your business be more efficient and grow. Contact Universal Connectivity at 866-808-1412 for more information. 

Topics: telecommunications company, business VoIP, business technology

The End of PBX for Avaya Customers

Posted on Tue, Sep 12, 2017

not anymore.jpgIf you’re an Avaya customer, you’re probably being bombarded with messages that the sky is falling. While we can likely agree that while the prognosis for Avaya as a company is unclear, one thing is crystal clear: the on-premises PBX is on its way out.

The last thing your business needs is a dead-end telecom investment. In fact, industry analysts predict that greater than 50% of PBX replacements will go to cloud-hosted solutions within the next three years. But should you panic? No! Here are five sensible ways you can migrate over time to the cloud without losing your mind and your money. 

  1. Migrate Gracefully with SIP Trunking

SIP Trunking allows you to cost-effectively migrate to the cloud by introducing new cloud-based services when and where you need them. By combining data, voice and video into a single line that feeds into all your office locations, SIP Trunking not only reduces network expenses, but allows you to migrate to the cloud on your own timeframe.

  1. Don’t Rip and Replace!

By replacing your conventional PSTN trunk with a SIP trunk, you can keep your existing on-premises PBX infrastructure and also get access to new cloud-based apps and services such as Unified Communications (UC), team collaboration and contact center solutions—delivered to your location(s) via a SIP trunk. 

  1. Go Hybrid or Go Home

It’s often too risky to do an all-out swap over to a cloud solution, yet some of your users and sites may need new functionality sooner than others. Mobile users, old systems that need replacement or the need to bring in new sites are all good candidates, while other locations can wait before moving over. Bottom line, this means that your old PBXs can co-exist and interwork via SIP for as long as those systems have a useful economic life, as you start bringing in new services at your own pace.

  1. Contact Center Nirvana - Routing in the Cloud

One of the most compelling reasons to migrate to the cloud is the extensive benefits that a cloud-based contact center can offer, as opposed to premises-based call centers. Utilizing SIP trunking allows you to retain in-place premise contact centers while newer locations or on-demand agents can migrate to the cloud. 

Here are some of the top benefits that a cloud contact center can offer:

  • Supports hybrid configurations seamlessly by uniting multiple centers/locations, including remote workers and mobile agents, under one management umbrella
  • Allows for easy scaling up and down as your agent needs fluctuate (on-demand model)
  • Automatically manages call volumes across all locations with “cloud routing”—think of it as a unified call queue in the cloud that distributes calls evenly between agents across multiple centers and locations
  • Click here to learn more about BroadSoft Contact Center advantages
  1. Selecting a Proven Market Leading Vendor

Did you know that BroadSoft is the global market share leader in cloud unified communications with 41% share, according to Frost & Sullivan—3.5 times more than Cisco the next nearest competitor and over 10x more than RingCentral?  Our BroadSoft Business software suite is trusted by over 600 service providers across 80 countries, including 25 of the world’s top 30 service providers by revenue, for unified communications, collaboration and contact center solutions for businesses of all types and sizes.

Universal Connectivity is a full-service Unified Communications as a Service (UCaas) provider. We offer VoIP business phone solutions along with IP fax, teleconferencing and contact center platforms. We partner exclusively with Polycom for IP desk and conference room phones. As “Your Link to Your World” we strive to work cooperatively to help your business be more efficient and grow. Contact Universal Connectivity at 866-808-1412 for more information.

This article was originally written by Holly Dowden and ran on the BroadSoft Beat Blog on February 9, 2017.

 

 

 

Topics: telecommunications company, business VoIP, business technology

Another PBX Phone Company Goes Bankrupt

Posted on Fri, Aug 25, 2017

When you find out your phones are down and nobody can fix them-1.jpgAnother PBX Phone Company Claims Bankruptcy. What Should You Do Now?

With all this news about hardware companies going out of business, you should really start looking at the cloud. If you’re worried about the longevity of the PBX company, that’s understandable. Avaya, Toshiba, and other phone manufacturers are scrambling, but not to worry, your phone will still work.

However, if you've been sitting on the sideline waiting to upgrade to the latest suite of collaboration and video/web conferencing, this may be the push you need. Here are some suggestions on how to approach this new opportunity.

Assess Your Contract

Review your contract and determine where you are in your lifecycle. Do you have any scheduled maintenance planned or needed? What version of the system are you on? Are you up-to-date with your patches? What type of hardware inventory do you currently have in terms of handsets, desk phones, etc? Do you know if you still have the support needed from your existing manufacturer? Assess the damage before you jump to damage control.

Get Organized

This is an opportunity to get organized, eliminate the old way of working, and reduce the clutter from your existing cubicles. It may be time to refresh and consolidate users’ technology to the latest collaboration tools. Check to make sure you know:

  • Needs and wants for communication systems
  • How your team collaborates
  • How many are in the office regularly
  • If any offices need to rethink their space

Audit all of your Systems

Auditing your systems is an important step to get the most out of your workspace. Having multiple, disparate systems is cumbersome and inefficient. The solution to this problem is integrated technology. With integrated technology, the idea of one device providing multiple connection options to collaborate can be a reality for your workspace. Your workspace can be easily integrated with your desk phone, mobile app, and tablet or laptop to allow you to share files all in the same space. Many providers have a plethora of solutions including integrated call center and project workspaces which combine into a unified communication solution. Integrating your technology can make your work more convenient and accessible.

Know your Options

Now that you’re considering switching to a new provider, you should lay out your wish list. Outline the requirements that you can't live without. Find the best providers by getting several quotes, and feel free to test drive a new option. Understand that easy integration is essential and that you need a provider that will customize a solution to meet all your needs. A great way to start your integration journey is to send an RFP. This will allow multiple vendors the opportunity to respond and outline proposed paths to move forward. Once you know what you need, and know who can provide these services, you have a validated view of the options.

Move as fast or as slow as you want, BUT MOVE

Start now.  Research, talk to your communications provider, and start to survey your employees. You may have a variety of legacy systems that you can start consolidating to reduce your overall costs. Determine who can benefit from new features and services, and go from there. This is a good time for some spring cleaning and transforming to a new way of working. Even if you go slowly, start your discovery now so that you can have the information and tools you need to make a decision.

Choose a Path and then Execute

Weigh the proposals against your company’s needs and wants to determine the most optimal path forward.  Look at capabilities, costs, and ease of deployment. Use the number of systems it can replace as part of your justification and proposal to your management.  Choose a path and execute it.

The Silver Lining

Unfortunately, PBX providers are going through difficult times, and you will need to rework your phone system; however, this can be a catalyst for positive change. After all, you probably haven't looked for a new solution for the past 5 years or more because things were working just fine. Now that things are broken, you have an opportunity to fix them. Reduce your hardware and focus on the features of integrated collaboration, voice, workspace, etc. This can result in reduced rents, easier communication, and increased engagement of mobile staff which will help your company run more smoothly. Don't worry about their bankruptcy, embrace the opportunity. The cloud is making the task of moving to an integrated solution easier. Start playing with all of those “neat tools” and find the solution that integrates your systems and best works with your team.

Universal Connectivity is a full-service Unified Communications as a Service (UCaas) provider. We offer VoIP business phone solutions along with IP fax, teleconferencing and contact center platforms. We partner exclusively with Polycom for IP desk and conference room phones. As “Your Link to Your World” we strive to work cooperatively to help your business be more efficient and grow. Contact Universal Connectivity at 866-808-1412 for more information.

This article was written by Tracey Klepic, director of marketing programs at BroadSoft, and originally published on the BroadSoft Beat on July 17, 2017.

 

 

 

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Topics: telecommunications company, business VoIP, business technology

5 Reasons Avaya Customers Will Like Broadsoft

Posted on Fri, Aug 18, 2017

Things sure have changed over the last several years. In the past five years, two of the top three market share leaders have gone bankrupt (first Nortel and now Avaya), Siemens exited the market, and Toshiba withdrew from North America. Even recently, the premise-based media darling, ShoreTel, has fallen on hard times.

So, what’s going on? Enterprise communication buyers are moving to the cloud, and quickly. Analysts estimate that 20% of the global licenses were cloud based in 2016 and they project the number will reach 25% this year. Cloud solutions are expected to surpass premise shipments in 2020.

Avaya unified communication and contact center customers are no different. When they decide to replace, enhance or simply add new users to their systems, their executives and stakeholders will expect them to evaluate cloud solutions. And if today’s analyst projections are correct, the majority will choose cloud solutions due to reduced management and financial complexity and their superior flexibility, mobility, productivity and customer engagement capabilities.

broadsoft.jpg

There are five reasons Avaya customers will find our BroadSoft the most attractive cloud solution:

1. Proven and secure cloud platform selected by 25 of the world’s top 30 service             providersby revenue and hundreds more across 80+ countries worldwide

2.  Market share leader with approximately 40% of the global installed base —3 times      that of the next nearest Cisco and 10 times RingCentral. 

3.  Scalable and reliable solution with proven success in micro, small, mid-market,            large, government and education segments including theMariottthe U.S.                    Senate and Montgomery College.

4.  Comprehensive and integrated BroadSoft Businessapplication suite including SIP        trunking, PBX, unified communications, native mobility, team collaboration and            contact centers.

5.  Strong channel partners, customer support and financials

Avaya customers require reliable solutions, rich capabilities, scalability and strong global support infrastructures. BroadSoft is the only cloud solution that can deliver on these requirements.

Universal Connectivity is a full-service Unified Communications as a Service (UCaas) provider. We offer VoIP business phone solutions along with IP fax, teleconferencing and contact center platforms. We partner exclusively with Polycom for IP desk and conference room phones. As “Your Link to Your World” we strive to work cooperatively to help your business be more efficient and grow. Contact Universal Connectivity at 866-808-1412 for more information.

This article was written by Mark Straton and originally appeared on the BroadSoft Beat Blog on March 15, 2017.

 

 

 

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Topics: telecommunications company, business VoIP, business technology

Bring Your Own Device

Posted on Thu, Jul 27, 2017

byod.png

While a lot of companies do provide employees with cellphone or tablets, many employees opt to use their own devices to maximize their own productivity.

With Universal Connectivity’s UC-One app, staff can easily work on their own cellphones, tablets or laptops. The app is simply loaded onto the device, similar to the application on the workplace computer. Calls can move seamlessly form the desk phone to the cellphone. Staff can opt to use the app on any device for instant messaging or video conferencing.

There are minor drawbacks to BYOD vs company-provided devices, such as nuanced capabilities among the wireless providers and the phones themselves. However, these are typically identified after the first few instances of use and adjustments made, such as switching from home WiFi to cellular for improved voice clarity.

One great feature of UC-One is that the app is set up to use business phone number, so employees no longer need to give out their personal cellphone numbers. In the past, this has been a drawback to BYOD, both for the employee and the company.

For companies supporting staff use of BYOD, it’s important to have a BYOD policy that ties into the company’s overall IT security policies.

Universal Connectivity Is a full-service Unified Communications as a Service (UCaas) provider. We offer VoIP business phone solutions along with IP fax, teleconferencing and contact center platforms. As “Your Link to Your World” we strive to work cooperatively to help your business be more efficient and scale to grow. Contact Universal Connectivity at 866-808-1412 for more information.

 

 

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Topics: telecommunications company, business VoIP, business technology

Happy Birthday Bell Telephone!

Posted on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

BellTelephone.jpg

It is not too late to offer a 140 Year birthday wish to the Alexander Graham Bell telephone. 

On March 7, 1876 the patent was issued and on March 10, 1876 the historic first call was placed and the spoken message was heard beckoning Mr. Watson.  What is quiet fascinating is in 1874 Western Union President William Orton uttered very prescient words that the telephone will become “the nervous system of commerce.”  If we think for a moment how and why we communicate we would have to agree fully with the statement.  Given there may be a personal SMS text or two to your spouse and children! 

I am humbled and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the 140 year history and evolution of telecommunications.   Every day we get to help companies scale and grow their businesses through solutions we create for them around their unique needs and leverage an immense telecommunications infrastructure in doing so.

As I write this post I am watching a Connecticut public hearing online via streaming video regarding the raised bill 331 regarding high speed internet which started at 11am this morning and as of 3:45pm has no end in sight…

As the debate and discussion continues,  it serves as a clear present day example of the fact that our entire telecommunication systems have become the central nervous system of all commerce.

So as you raise a glass with me to thank Alexander Graham Bell tonight I ask you to think and share with me what you think telecommunications will look and feel like 140 years from now?  Will we even need devices to communicate with each other?  What do you think?

 

Assess Your Situation

Topics: business continuity, business VoIP, hosted voip cost, telecommunications services, bandwidth, new technology

What Does A Hosted Phone System Cost?

Posted on Fri, Mar 6, 2015

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One of the first questions we are asked by decision makers is: How much should a hosted phone system cost?

This is a difficult question to answer and we will try our best to explain some general guidelines.  Technology is in a state of constant change, making it very easy to get left in the dust of today’s business environment.  Hosted technologies, “cloud” based services, are the new standard for managing technology, phone systems are no exception.  

Let’s Make It Easy:

Phone systems, including Hosted Voice over Internet Protocol, (we’ll call it VoIP), are incredibly complicated and can easily confuse individuals from IT right up through the C-Level.  People are very busy and frankly don’t care to spend time learning the granular details of a phone system. 

The purchase of a phone system is analogous to the purchase of a vehicle.  With so many choices and features the price range can vary drastically.  A basic Ford SUV can start at $22k versus a basic BMW SUV can cost $55k to $100K depending upon the options and capabilities.  Considering the average person will trade-in or sell their car within the a few years of their purchase, why do so many elect to get a variety of options or upgrades?  Most people know from their experience the importance of getting what they want the first time so they have no regrets in the future.  According to the US Census the average American spends 25.5 minutes a day getting to work, that is a 112 hours a year in your car! Which makes them want the vehicle that will provide them with the comfort, reliability, ease of use and quality they require.

Many of these principles apply to the business shopping for a telephone system and service.  The average worker spends 5 hours a month on the telephone.  The average call center worker could spend 5 to 7 times that per month on the phone.  The top two priorities for companies that have customer contact centers?  Improving the customer experience and agent productivity.  Decreasing cost is third on the list.

What is a Hosted Phone system?

Basically all the software and hardware required to make a phone system work is hosted outside of your office, in the service provider’s internet cloud.  This includes the call control, call center application and voicemail system.  Essentially making your hardware needs very minimal, an IP Phone, Internet Router and PoE switch.  Since the service is accessible over the internet you can have phones most anywhere you have internet access.

What to ask yourself:

Many people focus on the initial cost or finding the least cost provider.  Decidedly, nobody should walk into a car dealership asking, “What does a blue one with 4 tires cost?”  Similar to asking, “What does a phone with dial tone cost?”

Decision makers’ answers to the following will begin to clarify a budget for Hosted VoIP:

  • How critical are phones to our business?
  • Will they be available in the event of a natural or other disaster?
  • What does our business need from our phones?
  • How will a hosted phone system improve the business continuity?
  • How many users (multiple locations included) do I have that need a phone?
  • How will softphones help with efficiency and productivity?
  • Will having voicemail come to your email inbox create efficiency?
  • How fast can the system scale up or down to meet the growth needs of the business?
  • How many conference rooms do we have?  Size? Do they need phones?
  • Will video calling play a role now or in the future for the business?
  • What type of functions do these users require? Example: Receptionist requires more features than a conference room phone.
  • How many people will be/are on the phone at the same time?
  • What is my call volume and how much is inbound vs. outbound calling?
  • Will there be a need for call center and reporting of agent productivity?
  • Is international calling business critical?
  • What is my current internet connectivity/bandwidth?
  • What is the age of my current network gear? Can it be reused?

Perhaps you are wondering about the questions regarding individual people.  Hosted VoIP is very different from a conventional phone system in that it doesn’t use any phone lines.  The phone calls are transformed into data and run over your business’ local area network (LAN) and internet connection.  Phone calls are the same as uploading and downloading information from the internet, but the phone data gets secure immediate priority.  This is to ensure perfect clarity and call continuity.  Lastly, answering the bandwidth question is critical.  If bandwidth is insufficient with web browsing it results in slow speeds, if it’s insufficient with Hosted VoIP, it can result in dropped calls.  By answering these questions without becoming a phone system aficionado, we can laser in on a budgeting strategy.

Your users and how they differ:

Each individual in an organization has a unique task to complete while their phone license types can be simply categorized.  Those with the highest usage and feature requirements cost the most, example being a Call Center Supervisor or Call Center Agent and the road warrior or the general office personnel.  Then, as functionality requirements lessen the software licensing prices moves down a sliding scale.  A lower functioning user on the opposing end of the spectrum could be a “Break Room” user.  This would cost much less as it’s essentially a phone with nothing but dial tone.

Brass Tacks:

Users: The licensing on the user types does vary quite dramatically from a high end call center user around $150/mo./user all the way down to $15/mo./user

Phones: Also known as “end-points”, vary just as much as user types.  From colored video touch screen desk phones, to no screen at all, and conference room phones that vary to cover different sized spaces.  The desktop phones we offer range from $150 to $625 with video capabilities and conference phones cover a gap between $500 and $1800.

Hardware: These are the techno-goodies that protect your security, translate what you’re saying, into data, send it over the internet, and deliver it safe and sound at the intended destination.  The typical solutions include an internet router that connects to the internet service and handles the security and quality of service at the location.  The other component is the local area network switch which connects the phone and computers in your office.  These switches include the ability to provide power to the phones and are referred to as “power over Ethernet” or PoE switches.  The overall cost of hardware is determined by the number of users on the phone and data system.  This cost can be expected from $75-$500 per individual.

Internet Connection: Back to the question concerning bandwidth and what is currently in place.  Existing phone lines go away as the voice is turned into data traffic and now travels over the internet.  We recommend Fiber Optic internet to all of our hosted clients along with a less expensive backup service to ensure a reliable and survivable service.  Internet prices are the most variable of all things here and are determined by a mix of users, business requirements, availability, carrier, and geographic location.  However, the majority of our clients have 2, sometimes 3 circuits ranging from $295/mo.-$3000/mo.

Making it Work:

When buying, receiving, and implementing a new product or service there are always different schools of thought that define the process.  The three we most commonly run into are as follows:

Fearless D.I.Y.: These are the individuals who feel they’ve gathered the facts about VoIP and can simply implement the system themselves.  They are also most commonly the “commodity shopper” looking for a best price as they feel their knowledge and time are better used than investing in a third party resource.  In this scenario, we provide the hardware, configure the software, and drop ship to a location where the individual who has taken the reins will perform their own installation, training, maintenance and management. 

The Middle Man: The middle man has some knowledge of VoIP but understands the benefit of a third party resource.  They know enough to understand what the system is capable of and their knowledge limitations.  Here, we provide the planning, hardware, installation and training in this environment to help the customer ensure maximum efficiency from their employees and investment.  The customer would manage their internet and connectivity.

Turn Key: This is the decision maker who wants the most reliable best fit solution; we excel in delivering to this profile.  From the beginning, we are involved in architecting a solution to meet the clients’ current needs and future goals.  We are considered a team member in this environment and build long-term personal business relationships.  Aside from everything already described, this approach also includes current bill auditing, technology reviews, providing internet connectivity, and a management plan of action to ensure a reliable and survivable network.  

Assess Your Situation

Topics: what is VoIP?, business continuity, business VoIP, call center, hosted voip cost, Hosted Phone System Cost

Always Be Connected: The ABCs Of Business Continuity With Hosted VoIP

Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2013

The ABCs Of Business Continuity With Hosted VoIPIf the turbulence of our global weather patterns -- including, but certainly not limited to, Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy -- have taught us anything, it’s the importance of a business continuity strategy for your company.

What is business continuity? 

Business continuity is the ability of an organization to continue to function before, during and after a disaster. A business continuity plan is a broader approach to disaster recovery, the latter of which narrows the focus on computer systems rather than cumulative, end-to-end business capabilities.

Mother Nature does not think twice about the fiber and copper data lines that run on telephone poles and sustain your company’s communication and productivity. When high winds, nasty storms and even vehicle accidents knock down those lines, your connectivity -- your link to your clients and correspondence amongst your team -- is cut.

With the majority of businesses relying heavily on online presence, just a short time without connectivity jeopardizes thousands of future sales. Power outages slash more than just data communications and productivity levels -- they also slash your company’s reputation and put up a red flag of unreliability to your clients. 

The Proactive Plan 

A business continuity plan provides your business with a plan of action should your company face catastrophic meltdown -- whether from internal instability or external disaster.

1.    Prioritize

The first step in creating a business continuity plan for your company is to prioritize. Which functions should stay up-and-running when disaster strikes? If your answer revolves around your telecommunications services, you’re on the right track. Your telephone and wireless internet connections must be your main priority. 

Keeping the lines of communications open during internal or external catastrophe gives you the opportunity to explain the problems that your business is facing to your clients. If they’re made aware of what’s going on, their trust in you and patience with your situation will be preserved. If clients are kept in the dark, on the other hand, this trust and patience will surely deteriorate.

2.   Choose VoIP 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a data services method that allows both companies and individuals to communicate over the internet. 

When you run your telecommunications network through a business VoIP provider with fiber optics and ethernet services, you ensure that your lines of communication stay open at all times.

A hosted VoIP system enhances the survivability of your telecommunications. While traditional phone systems have one central processing unit, VoIP provides redundancy: alternative routes to your data in the event the main access point fails. This is made possible with cloud storage and automatic failover, or backup, capabilities. 

*SIP Service: When You’re Not Ready For Hosted VoIP*

Even if you choose not to upgrade to hosted VoIP -- in other words, deciding to maintain your own email servers and phone system with non-hosted, premise-based, VoIP -- your lines of communication are still preserved when disaster strikes.

At Universal Connectivity, we offer the option for voice line replacement, known as SIP Trunking services. This involves replacing your existing copper lines -- T1 or PRI circuits -- with ours, which run on the same platform as our hosted phone system. So in the event of catastrophic failure, like a power outage or phone system failure, we convert your lines into hosted phone seats within minutes to get you back up and running as soon as possible.

In addition, the UC system assesses your phone system every six seconds. If it proves to be unreachable, our system automatically re-routes your incoming calls to a number you’ve designated for this purpose. This is an invaluable capability in these days of high hurricanes and low power stability, with telephone companies struggling to fix the copper infrastructure in a timeframe conducive to your business operations.

Companies without solid business continuity plans are out of business within a year after a major disaster -- it’s a scary reality, but it’s the truth. Don’t let disaster strike your business without the proactive stability of a business continuity plan.

Click the button below to learn more about the benefits of linking with UC for your indestructible telecommunications services, crystal clear connectivity and productivity levels that escalate employee morale and ramp up revenue. 

Why Link With UC?

Topics: what is VoIP?, business continuity, business VoIP