Microsoft Teams is a fixture today in peoples’ working lives. Enabling 145 million people to communicate and collaborate daily, Teams highlights how Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) are now at the forefront of organisations’ communications requirements.
Moreover, Teams has stepped up a true alternative to traditional telephone applications during the pandemic.
One example of this is direct routing. Direct routing connects Teams to an organisation’s traditional phone network (PSTN). This enables them to make, receive and transfer calls to and from Teams like a traditional PBX system, but without the need of having a hosted telephone application or on-premise PBX.
One of the biggest benefits of this is that it’s more cost effective than options like Microsoft’s Calling Plans, and other solutions on the market. Plus, with Microsoft Calling Plans there’s no dedicated point of contact for users, and with limited support to port numbers this process can become complicated and time consuming for IT teams.
Perhaps most importantly in the current business landscape, direct routing enables home, flexible and remote working, with reliable SIP connectivity, resilience and availability.
Responding to Changes in How We Work
“The way people communicate has changed,” says Paul Taylor, sales & marketing director at Voiceflex. “We use Microsoft Teams internally, but we don’t make any telephone calls anymore. Everybody you call, you call on Teams.”
However, Taylor says not all SIP service providers are the same; the SIP platforms, features, network topology and commercials will differ.
He maintains that Voiceflex’s provision of direct routing with Teams is a more cost-effective alternative to traditional price models for supplying telephone lines. Many organisations don’t need the number of lines they are currently paying for, given the huge rise in use of Teams as a primary communication method, he says.
Taylor also says there is a difference in how Voiceflex commercially maps its product offerings.
“At Voiceflex we’re very successful at what we do with SIP, but our commercial offering is slightly different to everybody else in the market,” says Taylor. “Some new providers say they have an SBC (session border controller) to provide Microsoft Teams, but they haven’t got the experience and we’ve gained over the last 15 years on how to provide telephony applications to users.
“Voiceflex provides a number of commercial options to best meet the needs of the customer. It’s our ability to provide additional applications, like call recording, time of day changes as well as forking if people don’t want to use Teams as their main telephony application – they have that option to do both. This is especially relevant with hybrid working becoming the norm”
Additionally, he says every Microsoft user needs a specific telephone number, which Voiceflex provides free of charge, while some rivals charge for those telephone numbers to be set up.
As the past 18 months have demonstrated, the move to platforms like Microsoft Teams as a preferred way to communicate and collaborate within organisations is on the rise. At the same time, PSTN and ISDN services will be turned off in 2025, requiring organisations to move to a SIP trunk-based telephone application or a hosted telephone application.
It is a good opportunity for those organisations, says Taylor, to bring all their internal and external communications together in one place, to enable the future of hybrid working.