This year’s global pandemic has brought about several disruptions in the business world. Besides the emergence of mask-wearing, massive increases in handwashing and sanitization stations and social distancing practices, remote work has become a new reality for many workers. A new survey suggests that at least 16% of employees will remain at-home workers long after COVID-19 recedes. Not surprisingly, this shift has also resulted in a significant uptick in the use of collaboration tools such as Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Teams. For example, the latest research from Statista revealed that the number of daily active users (DAU) of Microsoft Teams worldwide increased from 32 million users in March 2019 to 75 million as of April 30, 2020.
As an IT solution provider, it’s crucial to keep in mind that when your customers’ employees aren’t in the office, they’re still a part of your clients’ organizations. As a trusted advisor, you need to equip your clients’ teams with the tools they need to do their jobs most efficiently. The collaboration tools mentioned earlier are an essential part of the solution. But, if you’re not managing them, securing them, and integrating them with your clients’ other business applications, you’re shortchanging your customers, and you’re leaving money on the table.
Provide a True UCaaS Experience
Instead of leaving remote workers to establish ways to communicate and collaborate on their own, a UCaaS (unified communications as a service) platform can provide them with all the tools they need to do their jobs.
Technology systems integrator Paladin Technologies Inc is an excellent example of a solution provider that’s finding new ways to support its work-from-home customers using Microsoft Teams.
The solution provider is offering direct routing voice services to its Microsoft Teams customers. Paladin’s new Voice in Teams offering is built globally redundant in Microsoft Azure, and powered by Microsoft co-sell ready partner SIPPIO. This voice service offering allows organizations to enable traditional inbound and outbound PSTN voice calling functionality directly within Microsoft Teams quickly, securely, and affordably, including support for conventional PBX-based phone systems.
“One thing that sets our new offering apart is its ease of deployment,” says Eddie Chisholm, Paladin’s senior manager of unified communications. “We’ve launched this solution for some of our clients in less than 10 minutes from start to finish. I think it’s a gamechanger for our clients who want to move away from hardware-defined or hardware-limited calling, especially with the recent increased need for communications flexibility in distributed teams. Workers today need to be able to call anyone, anywhere, anytime, on any device, especially outside their organization, and our new offering enables our clients to do this with incredible ease.”
Paladin’s new end-to-end encrypted solution provides complete carrier, SIP, and SBC services with international calling availability in 78+ countries. It also fully supports toll-free and emergency services backed by an enterprise-level SLA. The service provides an app within Teams for user provisioning, reporting, alerting, analytics, and support. Paladin also offers migration solutions that are flexible based on preferences, including advanced add-ons such as voice recognition and AI-based menu systems.
3 Options for Adding Voice to Microsoft Teams
Paladin’s strategy for adding voice services to Teams, known as cloud-based direct routing, represents one of the three options available to IT solution providers. Microsoft also offers voice a plan to customers called “Microsoft 365 Business Voice.” The calling plan can be added to Office 365 E1, E3, and E5 licenses and prices vary for the phone system and domestic and international calling plans based on users’ licensing. Additionally, users are required to purchase communication credits for their audio conferencing and calling plan minutes, which can be cumbersome to manage. Another potential downside is that only nine countries are supported in the Business Voice international calling plan.
Another option for adding voice services to Microsoft Teams requires users or solution providers to work with companies like NTT, Orange, Tata, or Advante. These companies offer direct routing solutions that are similar to the one described above with one significant caveat — they’re taking Microsoft’s cloud-based solution and running it in their private data centers.
“It’s like buying an airplane and taking off the wings and keeping the wheels down,” says Dawn-Marie Elder, COO of SIPPIO. “The traditional PBX players started entering the world of direct routing earlier this year in the hopes of securing their legacy product footprints and trying to align themselves with the Microsoft Teams opportunity. But, why would you take a product designed entirely for the Azure cloud and push it back to earth? These companies also aren’t offering their customers the reduction in ongoing maintenance, cost, and expense by gluing two solutions together.”
As the business world is trying to figure out the new normal, it’s an excellent time for IT solution providers to think about how to create a more permanent plan to be agile, how to modernize the work experience, and to develop new lines of business. And if integrated voice and collaboration services aren’t on the shortlist currently, they should be.
The migration to cloud-based communication has been ongoing for years, and the benefits of this transition are more prevalent than ever. As more organizations evaluate the potential for long-term, decentralized office policies, the demand for managed UCaaS is only going to surge. Seamless, engaging communication experiences – anywhere – will become the cornerstone of the future of work. Be sure to talk to your customers and prospects about their remote work struggles and needs and be prepared to offer UCaaS solutions that can support their operations today and give them an edge moving forward.