Moving with the times: The evolution of business communications
I’ve worked in communications for some time now, and been with IComm for more than 14 years. It’s been really interesting to watch the journey of business communications across the course of this time, particularly in recent years when technology has advanced so fast.
Old ways of working
When I first started at IComm, business communications were pretty simple compared to today. People had the choice between email, handset phone, and of course the office dinosaur, the fax machine. At the time, IComm specialised in selling and rolling out PABX handsets, with around four in total to choose from.
I work on the sales side of things, and from that perspective it was a pretty standardised process. There weren’t big differences between the available handsets, so it all came down to cost - what the client wanted to spend. The management decision and infrastructure needed to put phones in was a lot simpler, making the sales and set-up turn around very fast.
Because there were only a small number of handsets available, the available brands and technology were mostly known to people, and often they came to us for a straight-forward upgrade of their existing handsets. There was very limited flexibility to tailor communications during this time, as the only real add on for a desk phone was to add a plug-in headset.
New ways of working
Traditional business communications was then blown out of the water by the entry of unified communications. IComm began to also sell and install unified communications solutions, including Microsoft’s Lync, which became Skype for Business and is now evolving into Microsoft Teams.
While it’s not the right fit for all of our clients, a number of them have now been moved from PABX communications to unified communications. This has allowed IComm to work with our clients much more flexibly, to assess their unique needs and how they want to work, and, integrate a unified communications platform and complementary devices to suit this.
Unified communications has opened up so many more options for business communications for these clients, including allowing them to become fully mobile workplaces that can support modern ways of working. This includes offering employees a range of ways to work including remote working, working from any device, working in the field and more varied meeting spaces. Unified communications also offers many more ways of communicating and collaborating including the usual email and voice calls, but also IM, video calls, video meetings, document sharing during calls and meetings, and presence so that people can see availability of colleagues.
I find that sales of unified communications solutions are more challenging, but also much more rewarding. The sales cycle is a lot longer, because we need to engage not only the IT department, but also other areas of the business that will play an integral role in the successful rollout of the unified communications solution such as the CEO, HR and the contact centre. A lot of work also needs to be done initially to ensure we are in a position to correctly quote and then deploy the unified communications solution; this involves assessing the client’s server, internet quality and other aspects.
End of an era
With the rise of unified communications, which now dominates business communications, comes the end of life support for many of the traditional PABX handset phones IComm previously specialised in. Over the years this has included the Ericsson, Aastra, and Mitel BusinessPhone.
End of life has been talked about for a number of years now by the handset provider and we have regularly communicated with our clients about this, but this year marks the actual end of life, with no further maintenance support being offered going forward. This also marks the end of an era for IComm who started out with Ericsson.
In our ongoing work with our clients ahead of end of life, we have ensured they have had plenty of time to find a new solution, and have helped to transition a number of clients across to unified communications.
I look forward to working with clients on their unified communications journey, and seeing what evolutions next make their mark on the industry.
This post is 1 of 2 in a series about the "End of an Era" with IComm and our PABX history. Stay tuned for post 2, authored by Pete Broderson (Brody), publishing next week!