A look at the issues facing companies as they upgrade telephone systems

Small and midsized businesses face several key challenges brought about by an increasingly mobile workforce.

“Many are finding that their traditional phone services aren’t reliable or flexible enough to meet changing patterns of work and customer needs,” says Kevin Conmy, regional vice president at Comcast Business.

“As a result, many are seeking alternatives to PBX telephone systems that have become obsolete, expensive and labor-intensive to manage.”

According to recent UBM Tech research, more than 59 percent of small and midsized companies would consider a hosted or virtual alternative to traditional PBX or Key systems. Respondents to the survey perceived that cloud-based systems would address many of the primary motivations for considering the replacement of their current telephone systems.

Yet challenges in implementation are among the remaining barriers to wider adoption of this alternative to the traditional approach.

Smart Business spoke with Conmy about these challenges, as well as the benefits of a cloud-based telephone system.

What are businesses looking for in a communications system?

Organizations are increasingly seeking flexible communications that support in-office as well as remote employees (and those who move among multiple locations). Employees at organizations of all sizes have become increasingly dependent on communications systems to keep pace with the new mobile work style.

The most successful companies will be those that leverage technology to empower their employees, removing obstacles to their success, and engage this new workforce in ways that will drive the business. New communications and collaboration tools are needed to effectively tie together and promote teamwork among dispersed workers.

Many companies, but particularly small and midsized businesses, are finding that their traditional phone systems aren’t reliable or flexible enough to meet these changing patterns of work and customer needs. As a result, many are seeking alternatives to PBX telephone systems that have become obsolete, expensive, and labor intensive to manage.

Recent UBM Tech research, based on a survey of 228 IT directors, networking decision makers, and other senior management executives involved in purchasing telephone systems and unified communications services at small and midsized companies, revealed that a significant 59 percent of companies surveyed would consider a hosted or virtual alternative to traditional PBX or key systems.

Why are some companies resistant to making a change?

Companies that are considering the replacement of their current telephone systems are driven to do so by the age or obsolescence of their equipment, the costs associated with managing and maintaining that equipment and the need for modern communications features.

The research found, however, that many companies are reluctant to invest in a communications system with associated high maintenance costs and steep learning curves.

Respondents who are considering replacing their current telephone systems say they are challenged to select a new IP-based PBX that will not become obsolete and unreliable in a few years.

After all, the rapid changes of the last five years quickly rendered their traditional PBX systems unable to support the anytime, anywhere communications necessary to support an increasingly mobile workforce.

What is the benefit of a cloud-based managed phone service?

Cloud-based managed phone services provide a virtual PBX that offers features that are easy and intuitive to use and that help companies run a faster, more efficient business. Because everything is managed in the cloud, there is no need to make the major capital and hardware management investment that typically comes with traditional PBX phone systems.

In addition to making it possible to minimize capital expenditures on expensive hardware, cloud-based phone services remove the need to hire staff to monitor the system. There’s also no need to keep purchasing the latest technology, since the constant evolution of hardware is maintained in the cloud.

What barriers still need to be overcome?

According to UBM Tech research, some respondents are not convinced about the real cost savings associated with cloud-based communications. They are also leery of requirements that their organizations retain direct control over voice and unified communications and have concerns about security, privacy and regulatory compliance.

In order to drive adoption beyond the first wave of early adopters, these concerns must be addressed and a financial model must be created to demonstrate the savings in total cost of ownership over a five- to 10-year period.

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Comcast Business.