Jola recently took part in a live, streamed hosted telephony debate with two other suppliers.
The debate raised some interesting points.
Companies of all sizes are moving to hosted solutions, as they are more cost-effective. Concerns about reliability of internet connections has largely gone away, due to the availability of fast, reliable circuits such as FTTC and EFM.
If the government gets behind it, 5G could quickly start to take over from direct internet connections like ADSL2+, fibre broadband and Ethernet. 4G is already being used in areas of poor connectivity and there are portals available to monitor usage and reduce bill shock. 5G is a way off, but does present an opportunity for the channel and a threat to fixed-line carriers.
There was some debate around how many current hosted voice suppliers there are in the market, however the point was made that there is a huge choice of suppliers and solutions to choose from. When you compare solutions, there are big differences, even between vendors using the same underlying technology e.g. Broadsoft. Resellers require different levels of support and companies that can infill requirements on demand, such as white label billing, support, installations and portals have an advantage.
The impact of UC
There was some debate around the use and impact of applications such as Skype for Business and WhatsApp. Some hosted phone systems have Skype for Business plug-ins to share functionality between the applications . It was agreed that for collaborative applications like WhatsApp, Slack and Teams there is demand for use internally, but they do not support necessary telephone features, such as auto attendant, call queues and hunt groups. Some suppliers felt that as these applications evolve they may pose a more significant threat to traditional telephony in the future.
How important is CRM Integration?
The panel agreed that if they received requests to integrate phone systems with common CRM systems, it is easily done. Some suppliers have developed their own systems in-house to specifically meet this requirement, others have basic integration as standard and additional integration tools as add-ons. All agreed that they had not seen significant orders for CRM integration.
All agreed that security was important and a given. Some customers accept that hosted solutions will have adequate security, other customers, such as banks, require additional assurances. One supplier suggested that it was difficult to truly protect the voice traffic end-to-end, if at any point traffic travelled over the public internet.
IT companies are trusted suppliers and are recommending phone systems to run over the infrastructure they manage. Telecoms companies are being urged to proactively approach their own customers, so when they are ready to move to a hosted model, they are in prime position to help them.