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Technology Roundup: Voice

Need a new phone system? These resources can help

A phone system is critical to your company’s success. Without it, your business would be, well, out of business. A voice system that is cloud-based or that runs over your existing IP network provides several advantages over a traditional private branch exchange (PBX) system—from improving customer service and increasing employee productivity to saving your company money.

In this last installment of our Technology Roundup series, we provide resources that can help you choose the voice system that best fits your small business.

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How Cisco IT Organizes Its Voice Operations

How many people does it take to manage the service infrastructure supporting over 150,000 hardware phones, 50,000 soft phones, and 10,000 room and desktop video devices. That’s the size of our UC infrastructure at Cisco, and today we manage all our voice, voicemail, and video services with an integrated voice and video Tier 3 operations team of 25 people, and another 5 people supporting contact center applications and services. We do this by continually finding new efficiencies – learning new ways to support existing services so we can spend more time learning how to support the new technologies.

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Don’t Get Caught by These Phone System Pitfalls

Watch out for unexpected costs, tricky contracts, and poor customer service

When you’re purchasing a new phone system, your research shouldn’t stop with your company’s list of must-have features and functionality. Although a VoIP solution has many benefits, whether you choose an on-premise solution that you install on your local network or subscribe to an Internet-based hosted voice service, you should be aware of potential ”gotchas“ that can increase costs and hinder the phone system’s performance. Phone system pitfalls most often involve budget, contract, and customer service issues.

(See this post to learn more about how to find the right phone system for your small business.)

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Simplifying Global Voice Operations

Cisco IT has deployed voice infrastructure around the world in order to handle our 1+ million voice calls per day with high levels of quality and reliability. We used to manage this infrastructure with four separate regional teams: one managing the Western part of North America, another managing Eastern North America and Latin America, the third Europe/Middle East/Africa, and the fourth Asia/Pacific. But we found that this regional organization led to inconsistent operations because the regional teams had different ideas on how things should be done and they applied our corporate standards in different ways.

Our early lack of global consistency led to inefficiency in our support operations.   We would have people from different time zones trying to help troubleshoot problems and be unable to support an unfamiliar configuration.  And this meant that our regional teams had to provide around-the-clock support by themselves – which led to sleepless nights and frayed nerves.
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Hosted vs. Installed VoIP: Which One is Right for You?

Business needs, growth plans, and in-house expertise will influence your decision

Once you’ve made the decision to replace your legacy phone system with a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution, you must decide whether a hosted service or an on-site installation is better for your small business. Both delivery methods have unique pros and cons, and, like most technologies, one type is not inherently better than the other. Some small businesses will prefer the ease and scalability of a hosted VoIP service, while others will opt for the greater control and customization of a premise-based VoIP phone system.

VoIP has become the new standard in voice communications, in part because it offers a richer set of features than analog phone systems. A range of call management, monitoring, reporting, messaging, conferencing, and security features is fairly standard among both hosted and installed solutions. Your choice between delivery methods will be determined by whether you treat your phone system as a capital expenditure (CapEx) or an operating expenditure (OpEx) as well as your company’s plans for growth and available in-house expertise.

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