Webinar - Is It Time to Upgrade Your Phone System? - 2011-02-03


Uploaded by TechSoupVideo on 24.10.2011

Transcript:
Welcome to TechSoup Talks. Today's webinar, Is It Time to Upgrade Your Phone System?
My name is Kami Griffiths, and I am happy to have Matt Bauer here presenting from
BetterWorld Telecom. And we would like to thank ReadyTalk for donating the use of their service.
Here at TechSoup we are working towards a time when every nonprofit and social benefit
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Without any further ado I would like to introduce Matt Bauer.
Matt if you wouldn't mind taking a second to tell us a little bit about yourself.
Matt: Okay, thanks Kami. Thanks everyone for being on the call, on the webinar.
And I am president and cofounder of BetterWorld Telecom. And I have been in the telecom industry
for almost 25 years now, through the ups and downs over that time. And so we as a team at
BetterWorld have similar backgrounds, and hope to bring some of our expertise into this webinar
and also are available ongoing as well for questions or help that we can provide.
Kami: Great, thank you Matt. I also want to recognize a few people on the back end here
helping to answer questions. We have Becky Wiegand, Barb Shaughnessy from TechSoup.
We also have Salem Kimball from BetterWorld who will be answering questions.
So again, at any time if you have a question or comment, submit those via the chat.
We'll have someone answer them immediately, or we will hold them for Q&A at the very end.
Here's a run through of our agenda. For the next 55 min. we will be quickly talking about
the history of telecom. Then we will be talking about the lay of the land and terminology
to get used to these acronyms, why organizations choose to change or not to change.
We have a couple of case studies that Matt has worked with, so we will be talking about
different organizations and what solutions they've chosen. And then talking about
the environmental benefits of changing your phone system, and talking about evaluating
and total cost of ownership. And that last part, hopefully 13 min. or more for Q&A,
and then some more resources a long list of resources that you can follow-up
and learn more.We have a quick poll to find out where you are at.
So please take a minute to read this and submit your answer.
What best describes your current phone system? Do you have a traditional or older technology?
Are you transitioning into something new or have piecemeal? Are you enterprise digital system
which TechSoup just changed over to, other, or you don't know? So please —
I'll just skip to results. I havn't closed the poll yet, so please submit. Don't be shy,
we don't know what you're going to say. If you don't know, it's okay.
Okay, I'm going to close the poll. There you go.So most everyone looks like they've
got older technology, the traditional phone system, a little bit of other options as well.
So it's nice to know who we have in the audience. So Matt, let's get started.
Can you give us a quick history of telecom?
Matt: Sure Kami, what we are trying to do here is instead of just jumping into where things are,
we felt it would be good to sort of look at where things came from and take the opportunity to
throw a few tidbits out there that most folks don't know. The phone and Internet system is
now pervasive, especially with the advent of cellular. And how did the whole thing come about,
helps us to understand what options are available and why the transition is occurring
to newer technologies. So I won't spend a lot of time on this but sort of a few tidbits that tell us
when we look at phone systems from service, I'm sort of going to use those interchangeably
here throughout the webinar. And we are kind of talking about those because they are
intrinsically connected. So starting with sort of the basics of the history, telecom is one of the oldest
industries in the modern age at least as far as dating back to the 1850s and 60s when we
started with the telegraph, and then started shifting into telephony in the 60s, 70s, and 80s
from the 1800s. And in fact, the ITU, which is the International Telecom Union, is one of the oldest
if not the oldest branch of, sort of the start of the UN way back when. And so it's been evolved.
First, it's sort of a monopoly type of business. Most countries it was government controlled.
Here we had a private company, but in cooperation with the government in sort of
a monopoly hold. And what that did was created a lot of reliability in the network
and a lot of predictability, but it also stifled innovation and things that come about through
competition and other introduction of new technology. So in 1984 when AT&T moved from
the old Bell sign that you see there to the new logo, a lot of things happened fairly quickly.
There was a lot of confusion. There were a lot of players all of a sudden. People didn't really know
how to do what they needed to do. They were just learning the kind of rules of the road.
So it was moving from this sort of controlled environment to a much more open environment
where the Internet and cellular telephone, mobile telephony were introduced into the market.
So with that the devices around the edge were able to become a whole myriad of options,
whereas as we started shifting more towards the Internet and Internet telephony to more open
architecture based on packets as opposed to circuits which are basically think about it the old
technology is one phone line for every conversation that's going on in the country.
So the important thing here is to realize that the evolution of the technologies
has happened very quickly since the mid 80s. And so now we are at sort of a tipping point
where technologies are really starting to mature, and the opportunities for organizations
are much more free and open. And yeah, Kami, back to you.
Kami: Excellent, thank you. Well, what I wanted to let folks know is in the reminder message
that I sent out this morning included a link to a [indistinct] report. It's like less than 2 minutes
long. I'm sending a link out to everybody right now. I don't want you to watch it right now,
but if you haven't yet watched it, it is certainly worth the 1 minute and 31 seconds.
It just quickly talks about the mergers, the breaking apart and the re-merger again of AT&T.
It's kind of funny. So with that I want to talk about some of the lay of the telecom landscape
and the terminology used.
Matt: So in setting up the discussion, just to make sure we are all on the same page,
and I am assuming we have people with different levels of understanding in terms of
both hardware and services that are out there looking back towards traditional telephony
and out towards newer options that are out there in the market. So I will just try to level set,
and put things in buckets here, get some definitions and industry terms out,
and kind of the role they play. So we'll take a second, kind of step back here,
get on the same page, and then examine the lay of the land. So there are really three
what I'll call buckets of service, where the equipment that is necessary to make
all this work fall into. The first is access, simply put. This is how you connect to the network.
This is how an organization connects to the network. In the old days and still as we have seen
in the poll, a lot of folks still use what I will term, we'll term circuit switch technology.
It might be converted at the core on the network's into VoiP or what have you, but at the and it is still
probably 20, 30 year old technology, probably even more in terms of the features, functionality,
how it works. And that is not a good or bad thing. It's just a fact. And then you have VoiP
that's put out as a term. People confuse it as a service. It's an option.
It's all these different things. Well, these two, circuit switched and voice,
those go over those options that you see above. So lower end speeds that don't have as much
quality of service or quality of control, like DSL, cable, they might have higher speeds but
they are configured differently. And then you have a little bit higher end services,T1s, ethernet
over copper. So these are options to connect your organization in the location
to the main network and then below.Then you have the controller which basically
is the brain of the system. And that is handling the calls. So in a traditional way,
you typically organizations have what is called a private branch exchange or PBX that sits
on their premise that handles the call. It distributes it to a desk. It distributes
it to a location. It also handles voice mail and other features and things like that.
Typically in most organizations these are older devices that are kind of cycling out.
You might have bought a new one. Any new one will probably be digital or Internet ready.
But the newer services that are being offered, that's taken out of the organization
and it's hosted much like you would access salesforce.com instead of installing
Siebel for your salesforce automation and so on. On your own computers you access
salesforce.com in the cloud. So a virtual or hosted PBX is a cloud based system
so you don't have to have that device inside your four own walls. And then at the bottom
you see all the services that this brings you, and you can access through these mechanisms,
so services everybody knows, local long distance, 800 and unified communications,
voice, fax, and e-mail. That said as sort of a foundational element, as we did in the poll
most organizations fall into these 3 groups, one of the 3. So as most of you noted,
still in more of probably a traditional mode with what we call traditional or POTS, plain old
telephone service, very fancy acronym there. That's an industry term. More circuit switched,
the likelihood is that you have a PBX on-site with phones connected to it. And the pros of that,
it's survival. It works. It's like a refrigerator. You plug it in and it works. The cons are it's inflexible.
It typically has hidden costs. You have to make changes, moves, adds, deletes.
It's not very feature rich typically in a lot of the new ways of work that are out there.
So then in transition we have newer technologies coming on board. You might have a traditional
phone system mixed with some instance Skype and/or Google Voice or other types of tools
like that. And then — so the pros of that is introducing new features
and typically its cost effective. But it's hard to control the quality of that,
hard to manage is a con. And there is some confusion, what do I used to call for this, that,
and the other thing. And then the move to an enterprise digital system which I'm just calling it
that. It could be business grade telecom. But enterprise means you have got a solution
in place that really takes care of the whole organization and its needs.
And the pros on this are really you are taking advantage of all the features, productivity.
The management of the system is much easier. There is a transition cost to that,
time or physical costs. Quality of the service typically with newer systems,
they tend to need a little bit more set up upfront to make sure that they have the appropriate
band width or the appropriate set up in place, because you are really kind of crossing the IT
and traditional telephony boundaries. So those are some ideas and concerns there.
So when evaluating this it's important to look at the operating sort of line item,
which is you have a cost for communications that you have in your income statement
or in your books, but you are looking at all other costs to the organization that could be impacted
by these types of services. And the types of feature benefits that you get as you move from
1 to 2 to 3 are taking advantage of unified communications. Now you have multiple devices,
and fax, and voice mail, and e-mail. You can start integrating those, basically changing how the
organization works which is a real interesting opportunity. Disaster recovery,
there is tons of snow coming down all across the country. Well if you have the right
systems in place, and the right voice services and equipment, then people can work
more easily remotely when they can't get in the office, or when they have an illness etc.
So the productivity and flexibility goes up. You have an opportunity to really design the system
around how you want to work and not have to conform to what's out there in place already.
Kami: Well, let's talk about what the reasons are for organizations to change.
Why are they changing? And then why are some people not changing their phone systems?
Matt: Okay. Well, it is as I noted, there was some comfort with AT&T being the only provider
and I don't know how many people on this call can actually remember that.
I still remember it fairly well. And when competition occurred and everything
started changing, now where you have literally this myriad of options, there is a difficulty
in being aware of all those options and being intimidated by that. Who do you call?
Who do you go to to consider changing and why, and exploring that? Like say, the other reaction is,
if it ain't broke don't fix it, which really goes to, does it work? Yeah, it works. Is it really working
for the organization? Is it really incurring other kinds of cost, or opportunity costs that it's
not helping to take advantage of? And then contracts typically on equipment,
or on the service that sort of pins the organizations in to not changing.
And so those are what we see when we are out working with organizations all over the country
on many, many nonprofits on this. So we sort of see those as the top options on this.
Then there is also everybody's really busy these days. Everybody's asked to do more with less.
So there is a perception of it's going to take a lot of time and effort, and there could be problems,
so I will do it next year, I'll do it next year and put it off, and put it off. Whereas I think many times
those types of dynamics can be mitigated.And as far as things that are happening that
cause change and why organizations want to or will make changes, definitely we are seeing
a lot of old or obsolete equipment that's starting to cycle out that maybe it is not supported anymore
by its manufacturer. So if you have a PBX in the phone closet, or if you have old phone systems,
or if you have whatever it may be, routers, every office is different so I'm hesitating to sort of paint
one picture. But all of that equipment, especially the PBX equipment, the brains of the
phone system inside the organization, the phones themselves are cycling out. The stuff was built to
last and did a very simple and good job of what it was doing and lasted a long time,
but it is starting to see the tidal wave of that equipment cycling out and not being
supported any more. A lot of times manufacturers just say we're not going to support it anymore.
So organizations make a move.And then when they are physically moving
that is a great time to change because everything is in upheaval. And let's consider putting new
systems into place, putting in new equipment, putting in new services that are going to help the
organization move ahead and make it more flexible. A lot of organizations we talk to
are looking for and hear about and see these enhanced features that are available that I am
talking about through unified communications, so they will want to change their equipment,
services to start taking advantage of that. And work is starting to shift. There is some policy
changes that are happening. Work is starting to become the definition of everybody driving to
4 walls and sitting in an office all day. There is a lot more mobility. There are a lot more
devices out there, and sort of keeping control of all that. And then also something like
the federal tele-work legislation which was just passed which is going to impact the government
directly or indirectly impacts a huge amount of the economy, 30% to 40% potentially.
So now with the Government saying alright, now we are putting in policies to create more flexible
work and create more flexible work environments, that is going to have a big swing,
a big shift in how people working especially in places like Washington DC where there are
large concentrations of workers. So these are all kind of bundled together to make an interesting
moment in time for looking at communications for the organization.
Kami: Now can you give us some examples of organizations that you have worked with
and the solutions you guys came up with?
Matt: Sure. I've picked out four here. And I will try to keep them as susinct as possible,
but they're really great stories and examples of the different uses of shifting or utilizing
what we'll call different, newer technologies. When I say newer, it's not like this stuff came out
this year, but it's in the last 10, 15 years a real shift has been occurring towards different
types of methods of communicating and starting to integrate all the devices. So the first one was a
project that we really loved and that is around the Oregon 211 info. Most states have a
211 info and they handle community questions, nonemergency questions around health care
and other issues people are having. And in Oregon when the H1N1 scare was coming about
in late 2009 they decided to handle it through a hot line for the whole state, and 211
would do that. So we came in, we only had a few weeks of time and said, well, we can't backload
a bunch of equipment in here, and set it all up and pay for all that. They had a limited budget.
And they already had a call center. So we said hey, let's clip on a virtual call center which means
we put in Polycom phones that are voice over Internet phones that connect to the cloud.
So again, remember and think back to my salesforce example. So all the call handling,
call switching, they don't have to put any other fancy equipment on-site. And they staffed up
20 people and handled 40,000 phone calls in about 3 months on H1N1 and related to that.
So we were able to set it up quickly and also it had a shelf life of about 6 or 7 months,
so we needed to bring it down at the end too. So it was easy, but things about it it was easy
to manage. They literally had to change things every day, how calls came in, the call tree,
all this stuff. And all they had on site were their computers and the phones. Everything else was
managed via the web. So they were one of only two, 211s to get this up and running in time for
that fall season which was really tough. Greenpeace everybody knows Greenpeace.
And we have probably about 25 Greenpeace locations in the US. A couple of them are larger,
and then most of them are fairly small operations. So they have a real varied need.
So in the larger places, larger locations, they have more equipment, premise based
type solutions. As we go back to the PB Xthey have one in each of their main locations
and they are able to take advantage of the efficiencies of that because they have a lot of
people in those two. But then all their field offices, and smaller offices with 20 or less people,
they just installed the hosted solution and phones, and they are able to manage it much easier,
and then connect those into their main locations too. So they have a varied need based
on each location so they are able to kind of look at that and say, how can we make this.
We have some older technology, let's get more use out of that before we switch out
at our main location. And then how do we equip the field offices easily and simply as possible
without having to have a lot of resources to maintain that. And going to a virtual PBX solution
with a Polycomp phone, they were able to do that with a DSL line in most locations.
So that was simple. And then they would have one entity to call, so that has worked out real well
for then in having the mix of solutions.One of our favorite projects,
whoever worked on the Obama Biden campaign called us about a month before the election
a few years ago and said hey, we've got all traditional telephony set up in our 7 battleground
states and we are not going to be able to handle the call volume. And we only have a month.
We can't ramp up, to drop ship all this equipment, and increase our call capacity
and install these lines, so what can you do for us? It started with one state,
and then it ended up being all 7 of the battleground states. So we just set up a
virtual PBX in the cloud which has a lot more capacity, able to handle a lot more calls.
And then we would sort of buffer their infrastructure where they had just
plain old telephone service, regular phone lines, regular phones, and maybe a PBX or something
at the location, but clearly nothing that could handle dynamic calling from voters,
and from volunteers. So we were able to set that up and route those calls down to those locations
when they were free and ready and able to handle the calls. So in about 2 to 3 weeks —
and my colleague J.P. is on the phone listening to the webinar here — he worked day and night
as did most of our team to get this all set up so that in time for election day there were no
reports of dropped calls. So it really tested this technology to the max to say
how quickly can we set it up and what can it do. And then something a little bit more down
close to home, my last example is the Hub here in South of Market or Hub SoMa.
Some of you might might be familiar with the Hubs. They are co-working very dynamic work
spaces where literally hundreds of people come through this space every day. And it has sort of a
shared or co-working area that at any given moment could have 80 to 100 people sitting
at desks. And then you have offices around the edge. You have conference rooms.
Then you have the kiosks where people can go make private phone calls and have
conference calls. So we looked at that and we said, well gee, if you do it the old way
we have to set up a bunch of equipment on site and you will be limited in your ability to change
it and do different things. So we set up literally one fairly large access pipe which I mentioned
earlier, one of the options ethernet over copper, and then we drive all their voice and data.
So everybody in there is using a lot of web and a lot of phone service, but we are able to do that
all over one Internet pipe that comes in, and handle all the different needs of the people.
So you have people on conference calls. You have offices that have their own iteration
of a call tree where you call in and say, hello, this is ABC org. Can I help you? So we are able
to set up individual organizations, have a pool for the masses I guess. And then the hubs
themselves, they have their own ability to answer the phones. So this is the kind of dynamic
and flexibility that you can get out of a service like this. And that is all one iteration of a virtual PBX
that we set up for them, and over a concentrated set up of equipment and pipes where you literally
just have Polycom phones again, and a router, switches, and so on at the customer prem.
So these four, they are just four snapshots in time really, but they really show that the integrating,
utilizing these newer technologies which are based on packet switching and not circuit
switching. You don't need a — you know packets can be sent over a distributed environment,
and that is voiceover Internet protocol which is really the underlying transmission methodology.
And it frees you up to do all these different things at the customer or end user site.
So I think that's really all I have on that Kami.
Kami: Sure. So there was one question and I know we can address it a little bit later when we
talk about specifically the BetterWorld donation through TechSoup, but if you wouldn't
mind spending a minute talking about smaller orgs that have less than 10 people.
I noticed a lot of these are larger office spaces, but is there a group that you are working with that
is on the smaller end that you could share with us?
Matt: Absolutely. And in retrospect I probably should of painted one in here that is a smaller
10, 20 person, because we have a lot of those that we work with. And that is where the typical
organization actually falls when you look at the numbers of them out there. I think that even for
the smaller organization, that has that number of people down to even 5 people, we have
customers with one and we have customers with 5000 employees who can all take advantage
of a technology like this. So smaller organizations typically don't have technical resources on hand.
Somebody does it as a part-time job because they know more than everybody else does,
or the office manager and what have you. So when you have a traditional system it can be
problematic and potentially time consuming to manage that. And with a smaller organization
going to an integrated system like I was just mentioning with the hub, but on a smaller basis
so you can have 8 to 10 people on one system that's managed via the web.
You have a consolidated infrastructure and you have really one entity to call and help support
you in setting that up. And then those people can be free to work in the office, at home,
on the road, because that system then can connect to them. So people calling in
can get to anybody anywhere if you wish as an organization. So it gives that 10 person
organization the feature set of of $100,000 PB Xthat a Fortune 500 company would buy to handle
their corporate headquarters. Well, all of those features, all of that functionality is baked into
the virtual PBX solution. So the advantages to a small organization are huge.
Kami: Great, thank you for that. So let's talk about if we decide to make a change,
how do we assess and evaluate our needs?
Matt: Okay. I'll sort of frontend that with 3 main categories that we see as sort of benefits;
productivity, cost, and then looking at the environment as well, because that is part of what
we are talking about here. And then we will kind of summarize it at outlining a little bit of a process.
So there are soft costs to an organization. There are hard costs. There's the bill you pay to your
hardware vendor or to your service provider each month, and that is the easy sort of there is
that line item. But then there are a lot of other benefits that you can measure that
include productivity. And that is one we have seen where we put your phone system
and your phone service to work for the organization, and look at it creatively that it really
can enhance productivity like unified communications where even simple things like
getting your voice mail and your e-mail, getting faxes sent, created to a PDF and then
emailed to you, features like "find me, follow me." Wherever I am in the country, whether I am
on the cellphone or in my home office, or in the office, one of our offices around the country,
the caller, whoever is calling in can get to me and I can accept that call or not. Online change
management which is a real huge difference from the newer systems versus the
traditional technology where you log in to the Internet. You don't need a degree from
MIT to manage this thing. It's meant to — and all the systems have this in common from a
unified communications or virtual PBX type standpoint, that online change management is
really simple, changing individual features, changing how you're call tree works,
changing how routing of calls, setting up different call tree options and items. All that becomes
pretty simple and easy, to your recording in your call tree. Enabling remote work,
that's definitely a change on the horizon I'll talk a little bit more about. And putting the phone system
and services to work for you there. And integrating all these devices so
typical personnel and cellphone has their office phone. They might have a home office too.
They have other devices that are connecting. And you can really put an umbrella overall of those
and say well, I'm only going to have one voicemail box now, and I can get those voicemails e-mailed
to me. So I don't even need to go in and check my voicemail anymore. I just load it up on
my computer and listen to it. Cost-benefit, upfront a cloud based system usually and
most often requires quite a bit less on-site equipment purchase. So that upfront purchase
cost is significantly lower. With a more productive workforce in a unified system you get lower
operational costs. And what price do you put on when the office can't come to work because of
weather, or illness related work impacts and so on? That is another mitigation that you get if you
have a system that can enable more remote work. Change management,
and then down stream looking at the whole organization's operational and capital costs
can really increase the value of the system.From the environmental standpoint, and I am not
here to advertise to everybody go home and start working at home, or telecommuting is everything.
But the one main environmental benefit that we can get from having systems that work for
our organizations as opposed to just whatever happens to be in the phone closet,
is around commuting, air travel, building space and so on. And this is a huge opportunity
that's worth highlighting. And when you see the numbers, when we look at each of our
organizations and say hey, what if even a percentage of our time we weren't coming
into the offices much or what have you, and we had a phone system and a phone service
that really supported that? Here are the numbers that happen. And this takes it across the
whole country so it's very macro. But we've done analysis on each individual organization,
and when you reduce these things that are here on the slide; oil, cars off the road,
health care costs, productivity, and so on. So this is just half the people who can,
working away from the office half the time not driving around and all that. We have this
huge impact on the economy. So that's an environmental benefit to sort of hang onto
and look at your organization and how you can contribute to that. Because work is slowly
but surely starting to take a turn toward that way.The other great opportunity is phone equipment
recycling. And we have resources for that. So as you do cycle into new technology,
what to do with those devices and where to go, and we have that in our resources.
So then pulling it all together, really assessing and evaluating change, and we thought a lot about
this presentation and how I've explained to people what to do out there. And I think that
part of the problem is — and I was reflecting with my team earlier about this — is that it's not like
there's a source where you can go and pull a book off the shelf and say, here is what you do.
Here's a number to call. How do you assess? How do you evaluate? So it's still more of an art
form than a science in terms of, I am at point A and I want to move to point B.
What is the right technology? Who do I trust? Who do I go to? What kind of devices do I get?
What kind of service do I get to back that up? And one great thing from this in case I forget to
say it is, TechSoup has done an amazing job of pulling together a lot of information on this.
And I don't know of another sort of independent source that I've seen or my team has seen that
pulls that together as well. There's a lot of resources again that we will highlight at the end
that help with this. But the first thing to do is look at the organization. Instead of looking at the
phone system or the equipment or the services as a starting point, look at the organization.
Step back and breathe and say how are we working? How is work done? How many locations
do we have? How many people? Do we want to work the way we are? Over time is that going to
change? Are we growing? Are we shrinking? What's going on? And kind of look out over
that time horizon, and then make decisions after that is in the context or its in the context of
that picture, because then you can evaluate what you have. So inventory, evaluate what's there,
physically what is there, and then what are the communications needs and requirements
based on number 1. So number 1 drives the output of number 2. Then you look at the
total cost. What are the costs of ownership over a period of years? Buying a lot of equipment,
buying a lot of infrastructure, I have to manage that. We have to manage moves, adds, changes,
deletes. If you have all that equipment on your site, or if you have the brain of the system on site,
well then you have to have sombody to maintain that when you have changes.
So moving to a newer or cloud base technology you offload some of that responsibility.
Again, this is not a good or bad thing it's just different styles. But moving into the cloud
creates a more flexible mobile type of work environment and opens that up at a price point
that is less than if you had to, a lot less than if you had to go out and buy the equipment
or the brains to install on your own premise. And frankly, if you are a 10,000 person organization,
and I'm assuming that's not who I'm speaking to here, the dynamics are different and you do have
to sort of look at things differently. But for most organizations 10, 20, 30, 50, 80% of the
organizations in the US are under 100 people. Well, if we look at that and say, alright,
what direction do I go? Do I go towards free open not having to bear down on my location?
I think that is definitely from where we stand the wave of the future and something that
we support helping people to think through that.So we end with the million dollar question,
how can your communication system help to lower your overall operational costs,
help the environment, improve productivity, and employee satisfaction? So I think we can
really put everything to work and sum it up in this one statement. And if the choice is being made,
help is on those fronts. Then it is probably the right choice.
So I'll hand it back to you Kami, I think we're going to take some Q&A here.
Kami: Excellent. Well thank you for that. I think you have great information,
and it's leaving people with lots of questions. So why don't we get started grouping a few together.
One question that several people had, has to deal with what if the Internet goes down? If all of this
communication is happening via the Internet and we don't have access to the Internet, what then?
Matt: Well that's a great question. And one of the first that's asked by a lot of the folks
that we engage with. And the great thing about the cloud based systems, when your Internet goes
down salesforce doesn't. Again, I'll kind of go back to the salesforce, because I think most
people kind of understand that and that's an example. When you are using a service
on the web that's web based whether it is an application, Gmail, if your Internet circuit goes
down Gmail doesn't go down. So you are able to access it via another computer, or on your
iPhone, or on a phone, or on your Blackberry. You are able to get to it that way. So the same thing
with this, it actually is if your circuit goes down to your location, the phone is still ringing.
The phone is still answering hello, welcome to Nature Conservancy. How can I help you?
Press 1, press 2, press 3. All that is happening. And then if the phones aren't ringing through
because your location, you then spread that out and most or all of our customers,
what they will do is then have the phones can ring to their cellphones or to other phones
in other locations. So whether it is in a disaster mode, or the circuit just goes down for a period of
time, you kind of do the end around, and it can go to other devices. And it spreads the opportunity
for people to get a hold of you. In worse case they leave a voice mail and it comes to you,
and you are able to return that call. So same thing if you have a premise based solution and a PBX
goes down, or you are having difficulty with your lines. The problem with that is that you are
centering all the pressure on the location itself. So the onus is on the people who are in that
location to make sure that is functioning and functioning well. Whereas the cloud based
system is serving tens of thousands of employees and people around the country.
There a lot more people making sure that is working and it is an redundant hardened facilities,
not in a cabinet in the back of the office.
Kami: So another question somewhat similar, but it's talking about the infrastructure
within your office to facilitate having a virtual PBX or in some way having your phone system
be in the cloud. So first, what kind of infrastructure needs to be at your location,
and then what kind of Internet connection do you need to have in order to make this possible?
Matt: Okay. The first question typically is you need a wired infrastructure. Voice doesn't —
in the office environment, it doesn't travel over wi-fi very well. It's a little too problematic
and interferences is an issue. So depending on the size of the organization, if its a small,
small organization, 5 people, 6, 7 people, you can may be do it over 1 common wired infrastructure.
But we recommend the ideal solution is to have a wired infrastructure for the voice,
and 1 for the data and then going out through an Internet connection that is appropriate for the
number of people and the dynamic of the organization. So if you have 10 people
and you don't do a lot of stuff on the web, just typical e-mail, web surfing and so on,
a T1 is probably more than enough, or even for 15 people. But if it is a web development
organization like Ground Wire in Seattle, they are going to have huge needs in the work
they are doing for the nonprofits, so they are going to need probably multiple T1's,
probably one for data, one for voice. So it varies by those different factors. But typically you need
sort of a minimum of some sort of wired infrastructure in the office which is not —
which is very typical these days. Most offices have those installed. Then you need a router,
and depending on how many people, potentially a switch and then phones. And the piece that is
missing that is not there anymore is the brain, the PBX or the computer that handles all the calls
on site. That has been removed and put up into a hardened data facility.
Kami: Another question that is slightly related has to do with the quality. Phillip wants to
move to VoiP, but colleagues are worried about the previous experiences of dropped calls
and echoes. Can you tell us more about the quality control?
Matt: Well, if a certain process is followed in implementing this, then an enterprise grade
solution is put in place which means it has a company behind it that has quality of service,
and commitments, and guarantees, and also you have enough bandwidth and that the
infrastructure on site has been set up correctly. And that all sounds like a lot more than what it is,
but you just have to have the right equipment, the right bandwidth, and the right provider behind it.
And the quality starts to get up there to the plain old telephone service which is five 9s,
what they call 99.999% reliability. Well, we are not going to argue that Voip based systems or IP
based systems have that level of reliability. That means it basically never goes down unless
somebody physically cuts the wire. It's lower than that, but we have customers that have
implemented these types of solutions and once it is set up properly, they've had very,
very close to POTS experience in the quality. So if you are using Google Voice or Skype,
or a service that doesn't have the quality of service behind it, and it's not integrated
into sort of an enterprise solution, then making that one step up to a virtual PBX
that has quality of service behind it, and while there is cost associated with it, it does free the
organization up in many other ways. So quality, and I think there are quality issues from the past.
Every year that goes by this gets better. Providers themselves just as a side note,
every call that is made now gets converted into voice over IP by the carriers,
by the major providers, AT&T, Verizon, Quest, Global Crossing, XO. These are the companies
that run the networks that all of our calls, and a lot of the data that we are talking and
producing right now on this call rides over. And as soon as it gets out of your neighborhood,
as soon as that packet, that call gets out of your neighborhood it is converted into voice over IP
and delivered to the far end that way from a voice standpoint. So most of the network transmission
is done that way. Why? Because it is more efficient and less costly for them.
The last component of this is the edges, because a lot of people on the edges are still using
traditional systems. What we've seen is the trade-off in a slightly less than five 9s
type environment, it's worth it because one dropped call a month versus all the flexibility
and features you get, kind of comparing that to cellphones. Would you give up your cellphone
because it drops a call once in a while? Well cellphones are much less reliable than this,
but there are trade-offs down the road.
Kami: So one question back when we were talking about what your office needs and you
were talking about T1. Cheryl's question is, isn't that expensive? How about cable, Will that work?
Matt: That was one of the options that I listed, was DSL, cable, T1, and there are other access
options. T1s are more expensive, but they are very reliable and might not say they have the
same bandwidth as cable or DSL. DSL is an amazing invention. It actually rides over
the traditional telephony network and allowed a lot of people to get online and expand Internet
and broadband very quickly across the country. In the world there are now 500 million subscribers
to broadband in the world which is astounding in the short amount of time that the Internet
and broadband has been out there. But a T1 might be a few hundred dollars more, but the
quality and the throughput you can get through it, sometimes are worth the extra amount.
Kami: I'm going to interrupt real quick, only because we've got 2 more questions I would like
to have answered. And I would like to let folks know about some potential ways to save money
on their telecom costs depending on the state that you live in. I know that California
has something called a California tele-connect fund all part of — we get taxed here in California
on our phone bills and that money gets put toward getting discounts to nonprofits,
schools and libraries. So I'll be sending out a link to that to everyone from California who
registered, and other information that I can find related to getting discounts.
So the two things I would like you to cover in the next 3 min. have to do with the general costs,
what type of costs are we looking at for these kinds of systems, and then what equipment
is available. One specific question had to do with having cordless phones.
What are the options for equipment? So cost and equipment.
Matt: Actually I was reading one in the chat for the first part of your question.
There was a really good question that came up. The first wireless options and
then the costs related to which part?
Kami: Someone had a question about what are the costs of getting into a cloud system,
and then another question related to equipment, so could they get like a cordless phone
or what kind of equipment is available?
Matt: Cost wise it is usually a bundled type service where you get local long distance,
all your calling except for international. And all the features and functionality are included.
So we'll talk about our donation program with TechSoup, and that is $31.95 per seat
or per person. You get all your voice mail, all your features and functionality through that.
So it's typically in that range of price. Then if you need a connection to the offices as well,
like we were talking about DSL, cable, T1 and higher, those costs are we'll just say $100
up to $300 or $400 per connection, somewhere in that range.
Kami: And that is per month?
Matt: That is per month, yes. And then for wireless options and so on,
there are some wireless IP phones and they do work well. You can also get a wireless headset
which is probably an easier cheaper way to do that. Just do a USB. In some respects
you can use your computer. You can use the phone, and connect all these devices,
and that's the great thing. But with the phones you can use wireless headsets
or USB headsets to take calls wirelessly, or Bluetooth.
Kami: Okay, so I want to if we have time we can answer another question,
but I want to make sure we have time to talk about all these resources that you are providing.
So if you could tell us about or go through some of these resources.
Matt: And just quickly, you can go on the web and find all this stuff very easily,
but I brought some compelling items here just to think about. Thinking about how to put
phone systems and phone service to work for the organization, what are some of the trends.
So the Cisco and Citrix which are also partners of TechSoup put out some great reports
and data around kind of the nature of work, and how are things shifting, the cost benefits.
Work Shifting Benefits is a great report. So those are interesting to consider in the context
of the changing nature of work. Idealware did a great report that's on the TechSoup,
in the TechSoup system that sort of steps you through a lot of the things I was talking about
in my slides, on how to make decisions around phone systems and service.
And then the general telecom and information industry, one of the hottest books out right now
is called The Master Switch which really touches on all information industries and provides a great
historical perspective and the Internet, where it is right now where it's going,
and why things like net neutrality are important. Some other additional resources on recycling
are here, recycling of phones, tele-greening. Again, back to this, how do you put your
phone systems to work for the organization to lower the environmental footprint,
lower the cost structure. Here are some links to those items. And this will all be up on the site.
And then I alluded to our donation program that we have with TechSoup where you can get the
one nice price I mentioned $31.95 a month for the voice service. And the phone is a Cisco phone
that is donated to the organization, so it really lowers the cost of making the switch.
And we have had a great response from the TechSoup community on this.
Kami: I was going to talk to this next slide. There is another donation program called GIPS,
Global IP Solutions. This is the VoiP handset, so the actual hardware that connects to your
computer that can then allow you to talk. So it is unlimited request, but we do have limited
quantities. And it connects directly to your computer, allows you to talk via Skype,
and other voice over IP. And it is available to 501(c)(3)'s and public libraries only
in the US. And there are no budget restrictions. So if you are familiar with TechSoup and our
donation program, not all organizations are eligible for all of our donations.
So that is something to keep in mind when placing your request. So we have
a couple minutes left. If there's anything else that you wanted to add or expand on.
Matt: I saw from Jeff a question that came about that I think is really important around the
access options, cable, DSL, T1, etc. And cable, the stated speeds on the service,
cable a lot of times you will see 10 mbps, 20 mbps, and I think that is partially accurate.
They don't guarantee that, so you can have some pretty significant fluctuations.
Whereas T1 is a committed speed. Again it is more kind of like I alluded to the refrigerator
model. It's more of a — you get that. It's high quality. It's clean, capacity. It's a real work horse.
Cable, DSL can max up to these higher speeds and usually do that performance.
We deploy a lot of those around the country, so it's not a better or worse thing. It's that
you don't get that rate that is stated does not have a service level agreement attached to it
that says it is always going to be 10 mbps, 20 mbps. So that is why they are able to offer that at
a lower price, part of the reason. It's just not the same sort of infrastructure.
It's a great option especially for smaller organizations on a budget. It works in many
cases, but it can be problematic from time to time. That's been our experience.
Kami: Great, thank you Matt. Sorry to those of you whose questions didn't get answered.
You can post those to our community forums and I believe Matt would —
would you be able to answer some of those questions on the community forum?
Matt: Absolutely. Please bring your questions and we definitely offer to help anybody that was on
this call or webinar think through this and at least give our opinions on what
you could do to help change what you've got, and no strings attached.
Kami: And I will include Matt's contact information in the follow-up e-mail.
Here is a listing of 2 upcoming webinars we have, Designing and Delivering Technology Workshops
is next Wednesday, and then the following week is Registering Your Organization.
So if you have not registered with TechSoup this is a good webinar to get you started.
Would like to thank ReadyTalk. This webinar is made possible by ReadyTalk
which has donated the use of their system to help TechSoup expand awareness of technology
throughout the nonprofit sector. ReadyTalk helps nonprofits and libraries in the US and Canada
reach geographically dispersed areas, and increase collaboration through their audio
conferencing and web conferencing services. So thanks again everyone for attending,
happy to have you here. And watch for a message from me this afternoon.
Please take a minute to fill out our postevent survey. And thanks to Matt for such a
great presentation, and for folks helping out on the back end with the chat.
Have a great day everyone. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.
Matt: Bye.