"Voice is King" is one of the first things I was told when I went offshore for the first time in 2004. It’s a strange turn of phrase when you consider it but the connotations are simple. That in the throes of any situation whether it be day to day business or the heat of an emergency situation the best way to communicate is to talk. It may not be the most convenient way (Email or Instant Messaging (IM) is certainly quicker and more convenient when you are very busy) but actually talking to a person is the best way to convey an idea or a situation. And over the last 25 years the way that Voice can be carried via technology has altered dramatically as has the way in which you support that technology.
PUBLIC SWITCHED EXCHANGE (PBX)
20 - 25 years ago the primary telephony platform was the Public Switched Exchange (PBX). These devices were large electrical systems that were built to last. Constructed with large steel frames and requiring an electrical termination/connection for every single physical telephone it was not uncommon that these systems would easily require their own room in the premises of a large global company. There was no link between the computer/data networks so there was automatically a physical and logical separation which would ensure that voice remained active during an outage of the data systems. In addition when these systems were commissioned they were largely supported by engineers with an electrical discipline so the way in which they were operated was much more hands on.
VOICE OVER IP (VOIP)
In 2004 there was a huge shift in the flavour of mass-market voice which you could purchase with the inception of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VOIP took the classic telephone, transformed the device and connected it to the data network. Using the same infrastructure which your desktop/laptop computer would use VOIP was able to provide the same level of service (in some cases more feature rich services) and was infinitely more compact not even requiring its own full computer rack let alone an entire room like the PBXs of old. To some though there was a concern that crossing the paths of voice/data physically and logically represented a loss in availability. This however, is a false economy created by the large/steel PBXs which have dominated big business in the past and with the right design methodology it was more than possible to replicate the same level of availability with VOIP that you could have with a legacy PBX. This change in technology also required a change in the working discipline of the engineers who maintained these devices and Network/Telecoms engineers had to evolve their skillset leaving behind the electrical roots which had dominated this job role.
UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS (UC)
And in the last 5 years there has been another shift in how telephony is delivered with the onset of the Cloud and the Internet of Things. The development of Unified Communications tools such as Skype for Business and Cisco Jabber don’t just provide IM + Presence they can now also provide high quality voice services inside and outside of your organisation. The biggest shift with this technology is the removal of the need (in most instances) for the need for the humble telephone. By moving voice services onto the desktop/laptop there is an opportunity to remove the need for these costly commodity items and retain the same level of quality voice that your business expects. As with the shift to VOIP there is still the incorrect notion that by moving to this new service there is a reduction in service but with the correct application and experience Unified Communication is more than possible of delivering the voice solution your business needs. And again there is a shift in the discipline required to support these services. Server + Infrastructure Engineers who were once only responsible for one area of the businesses services are now accountable to an area that is wholly new to them.
So this poses a serious problem in the industry! The skills "gap" between those legacy telephony systems that were so hands on is more like a skills "gulf" in the face of the age of Cloud technology. How do you get the best service available for your business, the cost savings associated with it and manage the shift to that technology without any impact to the operational integrity of your organisation?
If you're interested in Deploying Unified Communications solutions such as Skype for Business and would like to know more or see any parallels with any of the scenarios above please get in touch with E-WAN Networks here.
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