Yesterday I wrote about gauging system resources in order to determine whether or not to buy new workstations, laptops, and servers. Today, let’s take a look at bundling voice and data service.
Bundling voice and data services together is becoming a popular way for all businesses to save on telecom expenses. According to Forrester Research’s Ellen Daly, “Managed telecom services – no surprise – are driven by expected cost savings.” In a survey released in July, 2008, Forrester found that ninety-four percent of the SMBs surveyed said that expected cost savings are important in their decision to use managed telecom services, while sixty-two percent considered it to be very important. Very important reasons for choosing managed services include simplifying operational management (51%) and the need for better quality and reliability than could be achieved in-house (46%). Managed services are more than just network connectivity and include remote storage and backup solutions, unified communications, Web conferencing, and collaboration tools.
With regard to bundling telecom services such as voice and data, Daly says that “bundles are popular”. Eighty-one percent of SMBs purchase such telecom services bundles as local and long distance voice (17%); local and long-distance voice and broadband Internet access (38%); and local and long-distance voice, broadband Internet access, and wireless voice (26%). And here’s the kicker – one-quarter of SMBs do not understand how to purchase bundles. If bundling is right for your business, then you may be able to gain a competitive advantage.
Qwest Communications of Denver, CO (www.qwest.com) offers a number of bundled voice and data communications services for SMBs. These are primarily offered as Qwest OneFlex, a managed voice over IP (VoIP), local and long distance calling plan, data network, and unified communications service. Different bundles are available depending on a business’s needs; for example, Qwest OneFlex Smart Connect combines local, long distance, and Internet services (including a T-1 local loop, router/firewall, and telephone handsets). This means that you don’t have to invest in your own phone system and network perimeter hardware (which depending on the size of your organization might cost between $10,000 and $30,000), or support it, and get a full featured system that includes Microsoft Outlook integration, hunt groups, find me/follow me service, and a web-based voice mail that can be accessed from anywhere. “Customers see the value in enhancing their real-time communications with advanced VoIP technologies that make them more competitive, increase efficiency, reduce costs and save time,” said Eric Bozich, a vice president at Qwest.
Come back tomorrow to read about when it is a good idea to try these strategies.