With new roles and ways of working, the future of unified communications (UC) offers even greater possibilities to modernise your communications network. In this blog, Jason Wynn, Principal Technology Strategist and Microsoft MVP, explains just how you can reap this opportunity with Microsoft Teams Phone.
Tomorrow’s UC is not a like-for-like with today’s. Modernising your communications means thinking about new roles and ways of working. With all this comes the opportunity to truly transform UC for your users.
Since the integrated services digital network (ISDN) was introduced, a lot has changed in how we provide communications. It is no longer just about telephony, but also how we converse holistically.
Take Microsoft Teams, for example, which allows us to make and receive calls across devices. People now want a single pane of technology where they can collaborate and reduce the overall impact on their staff and training requirements. Teams is the perfect solution to all of this.
With the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and ISDN switch-off scheduled for 2025 and the cease of sale from 2023, now is the time to start planning what your telephony solution will be going forward. What do you need now – and what may you need in the future?
What to consider before you start digital transformation of your unified communications solutions
To start your UC transformation to a modern SIP-based voice over IP (VoIP) solution, you need to begin with your functionality and plan backwards from there. What I mean by this is that it’s essential to consider what systems you currently have and use, and then think about how to scale them through tech.
Your organisation might have a number of different requirements for your communications solutions, from dashboard displays to manage your call centre, to compliance recording.
With Microsoft Teams, you can elevate what you currently get from your supplier or telephony solution to a new level. And when you combine the capabilities of Teams with the likes of the business management tools in Dynamics 365 – which is now made even simpler thanks to the announcement of Microsoft’s new Digital Contact Centre Platform – you have a whole world of new possibilities compared to your existing technology.
With the Microsoft Digital Contact Centre Platform, contact centres are equipped with modern digital tools to engage customers across voice, video, and other digital engagement channels – powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Power Platform and Nuance.
The 80:20 rule to making the move to a modern VoIP telephony solution
Thinking about your functionality, you may be able to handle 80% of your organisation’s requirements using Teams Phone alone. But if you want to scale past those capabilities, you will have to start looking into third-party tools. At Content+Cloud we call this the 80:20 rule.
When you’re moving from a legacy system to a new VoIP system, you need something that matches your legacy requirements and offers modern UC. In addition, you need a wider ecosystem that can build beyond that. This scalability is important to consider because it’s difficult to envisage how your organisation’s requirements will expand in the future.
Finding the right solution among the vast possibilities of Microsoft Teams Phone
There’s more to your voice transformation than taking the analogue and switching it to the digital world – but equally, it can be hard to identify and select the right toolset for your needs.
With all that’s available to you with Teams Phone, it’s important to understand your requirements to get the most out of everything that’s on offer. Understanding how your organisation works will make your voice transformation work best for you. In particular, you should consider how to industrialise your workflows to be the most efficient they can be for everyone using the platform.
There are echoes here of digital transformation at the beginning of the pandemic, when so many organisations adopted new digital processes. Once these processes were adopted, they became part of a digital transformation encompassing the organisation’s requirements, mapping out business processes and building them out bit by bit.
You can apply this same thinking to voice transformation. Once you know what you need, there’s a whole world of opportunities you can dig into. You can go beyond by deploying a third-party solution for your contact centre that sits separate from your technology stack.
At Content+Cloud, our approach is to help you can get the best features for your specific needs while introducing you to the whole world of technology that you can build on.
How can we help with your Microsoft Teams Phone transformation
One of the first factors to consider when thinking about your voice transformation is time. There’s a finite period to bring everything from your incumbent solution onto a SIP-related endpoint before the switch-off in 2025.
Our first step at Content+Cloud is about exploring lifecycle management considerations so we can understand how we can move your organisation to a modern telephony solution. Then we define the physical requirements around how your organisation works. Particularly for enterprise customers, it takes some effort to understand what system they’re moving from and how. We have to envision the whole process – from discovery to educating your people.
Another consideration is how we can scale your organisation to the correct telephony solution, such as Anywhere365 or using Microsoft Teams natively. It’s a big piece of work to remove those old telephony systems and move them into the new world.
We want to get your organisation to a state of successful adoption and understanding. To balance all of your organisation’s requirements, we follow standard adoption procedures. This usually begins with creating a persona for each user role.
There might be overlap between particular roles that have the same functional requirements – like telephone systems – so in addition to how they work, we look at how they access these technologies.
A good example is workers on the go: a mobile phone may seem like the most appropriate device for them, but when they’re based at a specific physical workstation, a decked handset might be more applicable. All of this goes to creating a persona of how the user will work with their technology.
One thing we’ve always been great at doing at Content+Cloud is combining this persona with user research and the story of the user. A persona is not just about what device you send to somebody – it’s about what it takes for them to be successful. Do they have everything they need for that? Is there anything they find challenging that could be improved?
We look at the mix of technologies they could use in the new world to be able to achieve these things, whether that’s a contact centre solution or tools that provide visibility that allows managers to provide training and guidance.
What’s most important when implementing a unified communication strategy?
We know that the ISDN switch-off is going to have a big impact, so to make things easy for you, here are our top three tips:
- Engage early and quickly with an experienced partner that can help you build your system out – it’s a long and laborious process that you shouldn’t have to be forced to take on yourself.
- Understand where the limitations are and what’s possible out of those limitations – this is the 80:20 rule.
- Get support in understanding both the technical equipment and business strategy – at Content+Cloud, we’ll not only help your real-time communications to flow, but also figure out how this serves your business-related processes.
To get the most out of your transformation to unified communications, speak to us at Content+Cloud. With a complete understanding of your organisation’s processes, we can work together to build a Teams Phone solution that will give you all the benefits of a modern, digital communications network.