Why does telecoms scalability matter?
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”
Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote could easily have a third addition; change.
The rate of change has only accelerated since Franklin penned this famous quote, and nowhere is it more pronounced than in the world of IT and technology. No business operates in a vacuum; there will always be external pressures. Nobody can afford not to respond to change; from market conditions, technology or business practises.
At the heart of every business is communications, be it voice, data or combination of both. Telecoms plays a vital role in all aspects of business life. Ensuring that your business telecoms system can adapt and scale is clearly essential to business prosperity.
What is scalability?
Telecoms scalability means two things:
- The ability for a system to function when its size or volume is changed in order to meet a user need. Typically this means rescaling to a larger size or capacity.
- The ability to not only function well in the rescaled situation but to take full advantage of it; for example an IP system being able to take full advantage of increased bandwidth performance by seamlessly handling as many calls the increased bandwidth can enable.
Put simply, scalability in a telecoms context is the ability for a solution to function well during times of change. Highly scalable systems take this a step further; they’re able to not only adapt efficiently but they actually take advantage of change.
Traditional phone systems lack the ability to scale effectively
Traditional phone systems struggle to scale because they simply weren’t designed with flexibility in mind. Any business operating a traditional phone system can be at a disadvantage, especially if a key competitor is better able to respond quickly to change.
A modern business demands a telecoms solution that is scalable. This means employing a solution that is flexible and agile enough to quickly and efficiently respond to changing needs.
How scalable is your phone system?
Most businesses have cycles of peaks and troughs, with dramatic changes in activity levels. These peaks and troughs are mostly predicated (such as seasonal fluctuations) but can sometimes happen at moment’s notice (such as a demand increase due to market conditions or events).
These business cycles can have a massive impact on the volume of calls in and out of a business, and/or the number of employees working remotely. Your telecoms solution must be able to cope under these changes. Ask yourself:
- Can I quickly increase or decrease the line capacity to deal with call volume fluctuations?
- How simple and efficient is it for me to manage changes?
SIP for scalability
SIP is a direct replacement for ISDN; the technology that many traditional phone systems rely upon. SIP offers greater flexibility and scalability than ISDN, and it is also proven to reduce costs.
Put simply, SIP is more scalable as long as capacity at the bearer is available; bandwidth on a business grade connection can be quickly increased to allow for more IP channels. This is much quicker than having new ISDN lines installed to handle call capacity increases.
Overcoming the barriers to change
There can still be barriers to achieving the scalability goal, even if your business recognises the critical nature of a scalable telecoms solution.
Any large operational change within a business can sometimes feel daunting, especially when it deals with a critical function such as communications. It is very easy for many in a business to adopt the attitude of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But this attitude can mean that a business’ full potential is not realised simply due to a reluctance to embrace change and explore new ways for working.
The most agile and effective organisations foster a culture that embraces change.Embracing change means analysing existing markets and business process’, then adapting where necessary. Is there room for improvement? Can these improvements be made using existing resources or should alternatives be considered?
If your existing phone system cannot provide the scalable flexibility you need to respond to change, then there is a strong business case to consider a new solution that can.
Tight budgets can seem like a good reason to avoid implementing change. The question the business needs to ask is “can we afford not to invest in a new solution?”. Put another way “what additional business outcomes (revenue, increase customer service etc.) can be generated and/or capitalised on because of investing in a new solution?”
In many cases moving from traditional ISDN technology to IP (in the form of SIP, Hosted or UC) can actually lower your costs. According to network level research, SIP trunking could save up to 50% on rentals and 30% on the cost of calls. SIP telephony sidesteps the PSTN and leverages a WAN for local calls, making these calls less expensive.
Further cost savings can be made with features that would normally command a charge with traditional telephony. Features such as such as call forwarding and site-to-site calls are free using IP technology. Depending on the profile of your calls, some businesses could find this equates to a considerable saving.
Once an IP solution is in place, scalability is simple to achieve. Extra lines needed in a hurry? Instead of having to wait weeks or even months for new ISDN lines to be installed, additional IP call capacity can be near instantaneously deployed.
Other cost benefits can be found when a branch or office is moved to a new location and you need to retain your existing numbers, even though the geographical location is different. This isn’t a problem with IP.
Technology should support the business, facilitating the achievement of goals. Unfortunately, far too-many businesses are using outdated technology. This isn’t correctly supporting the business and limits the business goals that can be met.
In a digital age of increased flexibility in the workplace and fast-changing markets, demands for mobile working, multi-site and multi-border organisations are at an all time high. A scalable telecom solution is needed to meet new challenges and opportunities as they happen.
Successful business change must be supported by management. A change in telecoms solution will impact all stakeholders within the business. By getting a management team on-board and turning them into advocates for any change, implementation and adoption becomes a much smoother process.
Time is one of the IT manager’s ultimate challenges. Implementing change can take time, but this is time well spent. Research, learning, testing, trailing and proof-of-concepts are an essential part of any new system. Time invested at the beginning of the process, will be rewarded with results at the conclusion of the process.
If change is a simple fact of life (along with death and taxes!) and telecoms are critical to a business then scalability matters.
Change can be easy to delay; there are always 101 reasons for holding back. These include things such as cost, disruption, internal opposition, “it ain’t broke” and lack of time. However, a lack of urgency could mean that your business is outflanked by a more agile competitor, who is better able to react to challenges and take advantage of opportunities.
Putting off change today could cost your business tomorrow.
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