TABLE OF CONTENTS
Proposal ………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
Milestone 1 ……………………………………………………………………………….. 4
Benefits of VOIP for Businesses ………………………………………………………… 5
Milestone 2 ………………………………………………………………………………. 9
Milestone 3 ………………………………………………………………………………. 11
Increasing fuel prices are putting an added pressure on business to keep their cost affordable to their employees. Fuel prices and other economic conditions are, day by day, increasing the cost of doing business and making businesses less competitive in international markets. That’s why businesses, now more than ever before, need to focus their attention on bringing their cost of doing business down, simply by making the business processes more efficient using the latest technology. Telecommunication costs are one of the major cost businesses incur in their day to day operations, representing a considerable amount in business expenditure.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) refers to the technologies, methodologies, communication protocols and transmission techniques which are involved to deliver multi-media and voice communications session over IP (Internet Protocol) networks, such as Internet. Businesses are increasingly using VoIP as an alternate to traditional phones/mobiles to bring their telecommunication cost down, as well as increase the collaboration among employees, which eventually translate to improved productivity. Organizational structures have gone through an evolution in the last two decades which has shifted their focus from centralization to decentralization. Most of the organizations have decentralized the power by using teams to increase the cooperation and liaison among employees so that they can collaborate with each other and unify their efforts towards personal, as well as organizational goals. Communication is the most important factor in getting the employees or team members to collaborate effectively. The biggest advantage VoIP offers in this regard is that it can be used anywhere and anytime, which is allowing flexibility to employees in performing their jobs effectively and efficiently. This flexibility which employees are enjoying through VoIP is translating into improved productivity and reduced cost for the organizations throughout the world (Liu, 2000).
The economist group hired the service of Nortel to develop a full-scale converged voice-data network infrastructure. The Economist is one of the major publishers of a weekly newspaper that’s why the company needs the system that can accommodate their business model, which relies heavily on its ability to share and access timely, accurate information from remote locations. The core technology for the new VoIP system of The Economist was provided by Nortal. Nortel’s state-of-the-art WLAN access points and Ethernet routing switches support seamless wireless connectivity for data and voice. Network’s reliability and security is ensured by WLAN security switches. The highly mobile workforce of The Economist heavily relies on the remote access features of VoIP and gets their needs easily accommodated by using Nortel Softphones and the unified messaging features. In a nutshell, The Economist has reduced its total cost of ownership due to converged network and simplified maintenance (Thomsen & Jani, 2000)
Manager through VoIP can receive important calls on the laptop, on their mobiles (using VoIP software like Skype) on the road, and receive an urgent voice mail in the box. This is offering managers a great flexibility in performing their jobs. They can collaborate with other employees in their organization instantly upon hatching a great idea or giving them instructions about their work without even stepping out of their beds. This is also possible in using mobile phone services but VoIP is not just limited to voice, it’s a multi-media thing which means managers can do video conferencing with the people sitting in other countries without even incurring an expense of going there actually (Mehta & Udani, 2001).
Your phone calls travel over internet using (VoIP service like Skype) just like your emails which dramatically decrease the telecommunication cost of a business while increase the productivity. VoIP also offers some other benefits in the form of useful capabilities and features which traditional phone technology cannot offer. Some business users are of the opinion that VoIP still need to do more in order to replace the traditional telephony. In their opinion, voice quality is sub-standard and need to be improved, technology is somehow now user-friendly that’s why difficult to implement, besides some other disadvantages like the interruption of phone service if electricity goes out.
It is true, however, that the benefits of VoIP for the businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, far outweigh its potential drawbacks.
Benefits of VoIP for Businesses
The core advantages business can have by using Voice over IP for their communication needs are increased productivity and decreased cost, a win-win situation for a business. This claim has its basis in the capability of VoIP which has converged data and voice into a single unified network. VoIP not only offers voice services, but offers multimedia services (particularly data) on the same network. Which means employees can have an easier access to information, more advanced functionality and greater flexibility. The infrastructure of VoIP is cheaper and easier to maintain unlike other data network which are highly cost to maintain and operate (Schwarz, 2004).
VoIP offers more agility than traditional telephony, specially wired phone circuitry. This efficiency is only offered by VoIP which eventually results in significant and meaningful productivity gains for the employees in the following ways.
Employees with the help of using VoIP services can take their office with them at home or anywhere they go and can access the system using internet connection. This anywhere, anytime access is very crucial for a mobile workforce as it can accommodate employees who are in transit, stationed abroad or telecommuting while sitting at their homes. Using VoIP, employees can check their email and voice mail, place calls and access project data.
One of the best advantages of using VoIP is its capability to integrate with other communication devices or technology, such as email software like outlook or Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM). Empirical studies have shown that Integration of CRM with VoIP has resulted in increased productivity in sales and support functions. For instance, CRM integration will result in automatic retrieval of customer data on an upcoming call – thus provides them with all the necessary information which can help the sales people target a pitch or track customer’s order history by bringing all the relevant information and history of the customer at the fingertips of sales and support representative. VoIP can also be used to develop unified messaging system which delivers the voicemail directly in user’s email inbox. For instance:
Business VoIP–especially hosted service–scales immediately to a business’ needs. Without any reliance on specialized IT support, employees can make the necessary changes in the system by themselves. Employees can do it by either making changes directly in an internet dashboard or by placing a call to a hosted service provider. Employees by using online interface can set their preferences in call-routing, add new functionality or even install new phones. Desktop phones can be rearranged by simply unplugging them and moving them to another outlet. Which means there is no need of time consuming PBX re-wiring or circuit switching. This functionality results in the efficiency of customer and eliminates the need to host a specialized IT department consist of specialist who take care of all these apparently technical functions.
Many advanced function which are not available on PBX systems and considered luxury come standard with VoIP. These features includes but not limited to electronic messaging, advanced call forwarding, three-way conferencing, custom auto-attendant, advanced call distribution, skill based call routing and video conferencing.
3) Lower Total Cost of Ownership
According to the estimates by US telecommunication industry, businesses can reduce their telecommunication cost up to 50% if they switch to VoIP. Some of the factors which contribute in cost reduction are as follows.
4) Lower startup costs
VoIP system does not require the heavy initial investment in other expensive telecommunication equipment like PBX. Hosted service providers offer the businesses the lowest possible cost of entry. Vendors like Speakeasy and Packet8 offer monthly subscriptions which are designed for growing and small businesses.
5) Lower maintenance costs
The maintenance costs can be dramatically reduced by a streamlined communications infrastructure. Businesses not only can benefit with the consolidation of communications into a single network, but they will incur significantly less cost by maintaining a cheaper and more flexible data network than phone lines and circuitry. Hosted service providers offer their services to take care of the VoIP hardware off-premises, and overall system offers a user-friendly web interfaces which can be maintained quite cheaply and easily.
6) Lower monthly phone bills
In VoIP, calls do not travel over the PSTN, rather over the broadband connection which eliminates the difference between the cost of long-distance and short distance calls. BluTrack Inc. reduced 77% of its cost on its monthly telecom bills when company switch to VoIP by using the services of Vocalcity (Hong, 2000).
VoIP is certainly the future of communication, especially business communication. Given the advantages it offers to the business. Businesses are not only reducing their costs, but also increasing their productivity and giving peace of mind to their employees by allowing them more flexibility in performing their jobs. The technology is used to augment business solutions in various ways.
Call Center and Voice Over IP (VOIP)
A call centre is a place where people and employees pick calls. This a simplistic form of the explanation but Pankaj (2005) enhances the description by stating that while a call centre is like any other office environment the primary job of people or staff operating in a call centre is to pick and make calls. From the explanation we can deduce that the call centre is a heavy user of the telephone. (Connell, 2006) Urges that a call centre is an ICT-based business to serve customers and supply services to them in an electronic media. In a call centre the main resource is a phone. Many services before was just offered at the Headquarters today these services are being taken outside the company to other companies (Connell, 2006).
In the industry the term contact centre is being used to indicate that web/email and other modes of communication is being used to offer services to customers (Connell, 2006). She continues to state that as long as the ICT requirements are met a call centre can be said to be set up. A call centre “is a hub of information collection and exchange” (Pankaj, 2005).
Call centre Services
The services offered by a call centre are of two types handling incoming calls and outgoing calls. For incoming call centers handle customer orders, customer care services, and other related services while in outgoing calls they are used for managing advertisements, selling of goods and services, reservation, political poling, customer satisfaction surveys etc (Pankaj, 2005). These services are offered via an ICT infrastructure.
The role of ICT in a Call Centre
A call centre’s first and most important tool is a computer terminal. The computer is used mostly to access customer information or product information. In the fields of medicine to computers are used to services the doctor with drug and other patient information. Some, or in the case today, call centers accept emails from customers and therefore making the computer the tool of contact. The internet is another ICT service that a call centre needs. Most of the communication in the call centre will be done via the internet.
Cost reduction by use of VoIP
Today there are many call centers that are web-based. Many sales agents will send web pages to customers to assist in placing an order and processing payments. Voice over IP has lower cost than conventional voice applications (Swale).
Elimination of Banking Halls
Companies operating banking halls to attend to their clients are eliminating them by introducing call centers using VoIP. Mainly these are routine items that can be resolved by instruction. Many companies reduce the cost of having a customer centre where they attend to clients directly. Many of these problems that arise can be resolved online and therefore do not need the customer to appear in a banking hall. This is a major cost cutting measure introduced by using call centers and VoIP.
Minimizing Travelling Cost
Sales agents reduce the time they use on the road and the cost associated with it by using call centers. The call centers become an area where the agents make pitches and also by extension respond to clients needs. Sale of intangible items does not need on to be on site with the client. Clients can get the services provided in real time without moving from where they are.
Multinationals do not need to spend millions in sending executive trainers abroad to train their staff. They only need a good internet connection and a call centre to conduct the training. Travelling and training being one of the leading costs in the services sector implementation of VoIP and use of call centres for this purpose can help improve profitability of an organization.
Customers using products can be trained to use the services from a call centre by VoIP. This usually eliminates the need for physical facilities and cost of housing a class in one point. The increase in webinars as caused this need. The capabilities of VoIP are on the increase and the multiple location training can be done by one tutor. This has an effect of reducing the number of hours a tutor uses on the road from one site to the next. Call centers in most economies are becoming an important tool of trade since full implementation will assist the client to cut down the cost associated to the business. Training is of particular importance.
Apart from adopting and implementing VOIP in businesses, most businesses in the current world find it easier to communicate with a wider target audience using smart phones, laptops, PDAs and tablet computers. Most of these being portable, employees in businesses can always stay connected while ensuring that there is continued and cheaper communication. Some of the frequently used applications in theses devices are GPS locators, productivity analysis and report writing. Both small and big businesses are able to acquire and use these types of technology because of its affordability, brands, prices and models (Aspect Software 2009).
Conclusions and Overall Recommendations
VOIP has emerged to be a more cost effective alternative to traditional phones and other fuel devices. It has come to offer considerable opportunities towards saving on costs while ensuring resource sharing and distribution. Application of technology and telecommunication in businesses has continued to evolve from fuel used devices, traditional phones/mobiles voice to the present multimodal (Aspect Software 2009). Thus it is no longer just going to be on how to preserve the revenues and costs but the lifetime of businesses in their operations and customer retention. Businesses that focus on implementing different kinds of telecommunication technologies will be able to manage costs and profits better. The inevitability and adoption of VOIP and mobile devices become pretty important in business succession. Operators in VOIP should treat voices as a platform that provides various functionalities, features, affordability along side empowering streams of revenue in businesses.
Properly designed VOIP and other mobile device technologies in the business environment will not just create an impact on network costs but also on diminishing traditional revenues. As discussed in the three milestones, adoption of VOIP will ensure heavy use of voice and data while yielding high margins and staying longer with the network service providers. There is a need to analyze and plan various communication technologies beyond traditional voice services.
High Level Implementation Plan
Completion into setting of up of a network plan is only half-way towards ensuring value addition for sellers and system integrations. In order for network migration to be more effective and successful, it must be based on long-term while remaining cost effective on its entire lifecycle. Migrating from the traditional telephone to VOIP should take considerable planning and implementation, which involves five key stages. This will ensure that companies and businesses are able to realize benefits as soon as implementation is completed.
- Completion of network assessment
Before moving, time and budget should be allocated. Vendor incorporation and infrastructure understanding will save on costs. Assessment is done by simulating the load in relation to maximum SIP call numbers on network together with delays. This is essential due to VOIP requirement of voice and data packets for network transfer and bandwidth completion. Besides, assessment should evaluate quality concerning service, (QoS) for voice packet precedence over data packets. All these assessments are corrective measures to the network before implementation.
- Provide agents with the right phones
This stage involves selection of types of phones to use security and conversation transmission over IP. Soft phones use software in Personal Computers (PC) to make calls. Such computers must have speakers/headphones for information transmission and hearing. Unlike the software in PC, hard phones use software and hardware to handle VOIP calls through plugging into Ethernet ports found on routers.
- Implement proper security measures
Proper security measures require an appropriate authentication, encryption and security. In addition to encrypted audio channels, controlling signals through the media will enable that all contact centers are identified.
- Prepare for redundancy to prevent data connection failure
Upon deployment of any network, it is also essential during planning time to put into consideration any failures. Point-to-point connectivity in two parties during data connectivity is a key point of failures. Such failures require movement of connectivity office to a different location or server. Which should be kept running for a shorter period of time. They should adopt multiple carriers, spare (N+) redundancy towards important components. Alongside this, backup network has to be employed incase of power failures for data network viability.
- Connect to the IP network: then get started
Deployment of VoIP may require implementation of IP private Branch exchange (PBX). This ensures that companies move peacefully to IP immediately or gradually. Also, a company may select an already established IP PBX or one that is an open source. An open source IP PBX is software that can easily be downloaded by businesses through a code. With more cost saving and rich features, it is more viable for organizations as contact centers in handling various customer interactions.
It is more imperative that the future towards convergence seem to beckon on consumers, businesses, and technology. Reduced expenses for telecommunication, streamlining of all resource managers in businesses, efficient adoption and implementation of cheap and easily available bandwidths and final development of a high-valued voice and data applications are all essential in the current business world.
Aspect Software, (2009). Five Steps to Successfully Implementing VoIP in Your Contact Center (and Everything Else You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask). Retrieved on 14 June 2012, from http://aspect.com/whitepapers/Aspect_VoIPDeploymentStepsStrategy_WP.pdf
Connell, J. (2006). Developments in the Call Centre Industry: Anaysis, Changes and Challenges. Taylro and Francis.
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Mehta, P. & Udani, S. (2001). “Voice over IP. IEEE Potentials. Vol. 20 Issue: 4.
Pankaj, S. (2005). Call Centre. New Delhi: Kul Bhushan Nangia – APH Publishing Corporation.
Schwarz, B. (2004). “Asterisk open-source PBX system”. Linux Journal.
Swale, R. (Ed.). Voice Over Ip: Systems and Solutions.
Thomsen, G. & Jani, Y. (2000). “Internet telephony: going like crazy”. IEEE Spectrum. Vol. 37 Issue: 5