How to invest in new office systems
For many companies the economic uncertainty of the past years has delayed their IT buying cycles. Now companies are realising that many of their systems, which were possibly already one or two years old, are now in dire need of updating and replacing. Chad Thompson of AMI-Partners recently referred to this as the "pent-up demand for major infrastructure spending that was put off during the recession".
Whilst the notion of investing in equipment may now be a little easier to swallow, it has never been more important to ensure you are spending wisely. With the new governments and the strong Euro UK small businesses need to be ever vigilant with their limited resources and focus on products designed for their needs that offer exceptional value for money.
Over the last couple of years, Unified Communications and IP Telephony solutions have matured, evolved and become far more intuitive and powerful. Some vendors have even begun to think about how to support your needs as a small business, rather than trying to offer you cut-down, overly bloated systems that would normally be sold to large enterprises.
This guide will help you sift through the various options in the market, to choose one that suits your business today and tomorrow.
Know what you want
Look for solutions that solve your business issues today, and give you a path to support growth in both your business size, and your requirements over the next 12-24 months. Companies offering you features and roadmaps beyond this are selling dreams and ideas; beyond this time the industry and technology will have evolved again. You need something that you can trust will support you now, and evolve to be able to support your business needs of tomorrow.
Start simple but plan for more
Your phone system is most likely to be the first thing that takes the strain as you grow and will often be the first direct contact a customer has with your company.
Look to upgrade this with High Definition, HD Telephony solutions that support multi-site deployments, a variety of IP desk phones and software based 'soft-phones'. Doing this means you have complete flexibility and cost predictability, enabling you to add new users to your system whether they are in the office, working from home or based in another country.
If you are not an IP Telephony expert, these things can be pretty scary and off-putting, so look for something that runs on familiar computing systems, something that doesn't need you to hire a new IT manager.
Don't forget about the future
A few IP Telephony systems now come with options to add Unified Communications capabilities to them at a later time, such as click-to-call, voicemails delivered to the inbox, business grade instant messaging, social network and CRM integration. Look for these specifically because it is much easier to integrate systems designed to be integrated, than to piece together solutions from different vendors.
Designed for your needs
Most small business solutions on the market are really based on cut-down large enterprise solutions. Be careful of these; it is like buying the budget range of an expensive car - all you get is the brand and the running costs, but your in-car-entertainment supports only C-90 cassette tapes, you don't get the Xeon lights or reversing sensors, and apart from the deluxe leather steering wheel, a seat belt is the only safety feature included as standard.
Don't choose to restrict your options
You are probably not planning on integrating and deploying this yourself. You will probably turn to an external IT systems partner to suggest, design and install a solution to address your needs. Bear in mind that if you want independent financial advice you would not normally go to a bank, you would go to an independent financial advisor. Likewise, here you must make sure your supplier can actually suggest the most appropriate solution for you, not the one they have that almost meets your needs. If they only sell solutions from one vendor, you will only get to choose solutions from one vendor. Make sure they can offer you advice on, and solutions from different vendors.
For more information visit www.communigate.com/smb
Post Date: June 16th, 2010