According to Rob Davies, subject matter expert on unified communications for Ergo, one of the biggest drivers for companies implementing UC is the issue of how best to deal with ageing PBX systems. “What we’re seeing now is that there is a huge telephony estate out there that is often very old Nortel or Mytel PBX equipment. These appliances are approaching the end of their life. They’ve worked brilliantly over the years, but there are no spare parts for them, they can’t be supported and basically they need to be replaced,” he said. “Do you go out and buy a new PBX or do you look at a collaborative UC solution? It’s at this point that normally customers are surprised to find that they already have the licensing in place for Skype for Business through Office 365. They don’t need to do a huge amount to introduce the product.” According to Davies, there’s normally a small top-up fee for the server licences to deploy the server on premise, but if a company is using Office 365 then its normal licensing covers its user base. “When you stand back and look at it, you’ve got a PBX replacement that you’ve 95 per cent paid for already,” he said.
Ergo has worked with Microsoft Lync and later Skype for Business since 2005, with Davies describing the early years as a slow burn. “In the early days, people said they couldn’t see Microsoft entering the telephony market, but now we have very large and very small companies using it and companies in the middle employing it as full telephony replacement,” he said. “We have companies doing this in the food industry, the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries and they’re all taking the product very seriously. The Microsoft stack covers all forms of communication — it’s not just a phone system, it’s a new method of working for your organisation.”
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