Telephony is no longer just an infrastructure conversation. Vendor consolidation and increased emphasis on software-based collaboration is transforming the way in which business consume telephony. Features on the whole have remained static throughout the last few years; however, the delivery mechanisms are changing.

Making a decision about how to consume telephony is a critical one. The variety of options that now exist for migrating from traditional telephony are endless; IP telephony, onsite hardware, cloud based services and SIP to name a few. With that in mind I have pulled together some top tips on how to evaluate your telephony supplier:

  1.  Do they understand your business?

Traditional telephony providers, unified communications vendors and IP telephony suppliers are usually pretty poor at talking about anything but their technology. Attend any telephony event and you’ll see this. Vendor pitching hardware, Telcos pitching protocols and aggregators talking about how they make all of this stuff work. But, they miss some fundamental questions – what is your business trying to achieve and how can you enable your users.

  1.  Are they in line with the changing landscape?

While telephony remains a mission critical service, unified communications represents an opportunity for efficient and effective user to user collaboration. With the need for increased integration between applications and business processes, your voice provider must now aim to enable a range of real-time and non-real-time, fixed and mobile, business communications functions.

  1.  Do they have strength and vision?

As telephony and communications are critical, the overall strength of your telephony provision is essential. This is not only reflected in their revenue and profitability, but their emphasis and commitment to further developing their telephony and unified communications objectives.

  1.  Can they describe a communications roadmap specific to your business? 

You need to ensure that your telephony supplier should provide you with a clear understanding of how they intend to take you on the journey to next generation telephony. Ask how and when they will migrate you from legacy telephony right through to unified communications.

  1.  Can they demonstrate cost savings?

The majority of the organisations I speak to are overpaying for telephony. There are key areas in which cost savings can make a difference. Call costs are the obvious, but in many case hardware is a cost burden. Your telephony partner should be able to help you understand and demonstrate were cost savings can be made today and in the future in line with their strategic roadmap.

Businesses looking to deploy IP telephony should carefully assess the individual strengths and challenges associated with potential vendors and solutions. Be sceptical about hardware based solutions, while the major telephony and UC vendor all offer a comprehensive set of core features, their approaches to software, services, and collaboration tools can be lacking.