IP Telephony – it’s bigger than you think

I’ve posted in this space, quite a bit about the benefits of using “voice over the Internet Protocol” to save money. Vonage and others are pushing this for consumers.
HOWEVER, for businesses the benefits are even more. Businesses can save money just like consumers but the added benefit are the flexibility to move employees, access data (voice mail, email, faxes and more) in one in-box and other features.
Avaya writes that some features it has include VoiceMail Pro 2.1 enables users to send messages to colleagues on other voice mail systems, including other Avaya IP Office systems or Avaya messaging systems. The Remote Upgrade Wizard is part of a trio of new Wizards designed to make IP Office easier to install and manage. For the Avaya IP Office — Small Office Edition, which handles up to 28 users at a location, there is a new Setup Wizard that makes installation and maintenance easier, and a Wizard that enables users to move, add or change extensions without rebooting the system, so changes can be made in real time. Another feature now generally available, the IP Office Conferencing Center, gives customers the ability to book, schedule and confirm conferences by email and post documents and presentations on the web for participants to share.
Some Avaya customer examples are — Heartland Credit Union, a member-owned financial cooperative ranked as one of the U.S.’s top 10 lending institutions to the agricultural sector. A networked messaging feature in the new Avaya software enables the company to respond to customer calls faster and more efficiently by using four-digit dialing to forward voice mail messages among six previously isolated branch offices. Previously messages had to be transcribed if they needed to be shared beyond a local office. Now, voice mail can be forwarded across the network to colleagues at other sites, saving valuable time and helping Heartland respond more promptly to customer requests.
— Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-operative Society (OSG), a U.K. cooperative society owned and controlled by its members who are local customers of the cooperative’s businesses. The Society operates seven lines of business — including a large retail operation, automotive dealerships, childcare facilities, travel agencies, funeral services, property management and Information Services — across five counties. The Society’s communications systems located in seven offices across those five counties (Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and the area around Swindon in Wiltshire) now receive software upgrades remotely, using the pre-packaged Avaya Microsoft(R) Windows-based Installation and Administration Wizard. This reduces the time spent installing an IP Office system and removes configuration errors. The error checking capability can be utilized to review existing configurations that may contain errors and iron out issues, even where the configuration was not created using the Wizard.
— Motorcycle-USA.com, an online retail site for motorcycle enthusiasts. Because the availability of customer service agents to assist buyers directly impacts revenue, interrupting the company’s communication system for moves, additions or changes is simply not an option. Instead, the company’s network administrator makes changes in real time, without rebooting the system and disrupting service, using the Avaya Moves/Adds/Changes Wizard – an easy-to- use, intuitive interface for updating calling paths to employees’ extensions, adding and removing users, updating forms and performing a host of other administrative operations.
— Capco, a leading global provider of integrated consulting, processing services and products to the financial services industry. To ensure it delivers world-class solutions to its customers, Capco relies on fast, efficient communication between its staff, customers and partners. Today, Capco quickly and economically connects its 500 geographically-dispersed employees in Belgium, France, Germany, the UK, India, Singapore, Canada, and the U.S., by holding conference calls over its own private data network, instead of paying for outside conferencing costs. Doing so has helped Capco reduce its conferencing expenses by 90 percent.
“It’s clear that merging data and voice traffic onto a single IP network saves money, but we’ve learned that businesses are considering IP telephony in a more holistic way – as an important tool to improve customer service and solve many business problems,” said Dave Johnson, group vice president, Small and Medium Business Solutions, Avaya. “They recognize that IP telephony sets the stage for advanced communication and collaboration applications, such as instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, application sharing, co- browsing on the Web, presence and mobility. These are all capabilities that can help businesses increase their productivity and maintain their competitive edge and avoid being left behind as communication technology moves forward.”
According to The Yankee Group, more than half of small and medium businesses that plan to upgrade their phone systems plan to consider converged solutions.*