The latest BT Being in Business Survey identifies IT as critical to supporting customer relationships and delivering business success - but what do you need consider when upgrading your network and communication systems?
According to the latest BT's Being in Business Survey, the majority of businesses plan to make changes to their organisation this year to boost performance. For 90 per cent of those surveyed, customer care and relationships are identified as the key drivers, whilst 85 per cent see IT and communications as crucial to delivering business success.
However, any business contemplating a network or communication upgrade will discover a lot has changed since their last IT refresh. So what do businesses need to consider?
Upgrading your network
When thinking about your network infrastructure, it's vital to consider reliability, performance and management.
What's the impact to your business if your network goes down? If it's significant, you need to think about your network availability and resilience. Bear in mind that 99.5% availability is equivalent to 43 hours downtime per annum; 99.999% is equivalent to just 5.25 minutes.
The first step is to decide on a site-by-site basis what availability you need and what your business demands. If you need resilience, you'll need to look at the scope and scale of the appropriate option. And check what your supplier offers in terms of repair times and service level agreements, network management and core network redundancy.
Your business is likely to suffer if your real-time apps aren't real-time, you've virtualised your servers and you start getting time-outs or you simply cannot access your network.
It's essential to scope out your network requirements according to your business needs. You can reduce costs and improve performance by choosing a service that prioritises business critical applications over email and web-browsing. Further points to check with your supplier include their policies on implementing new technologies, performance guarantees, caveats and exclusions.
With multi-sited networks, problems with connections will affect productivity and business continuity. Being able to monitor and manage your network efficiently is crucial.
There are a range of network management options available, from DIY, through light touch to more sophisticated options - your supplier should work with you to find the most suitable solution for your business.
Upgrading your communication systems
According to the survey, improved customer care was one of the key drivers behind businesses looking to upgrade their communication systems. The latest systems can deliver this in a number of ways.
Being able to respond quickly and effectively to calls is paramount to creating a greater customer experience. If you're looking to improve call handling, functions to discuss with your supplier include intelligent call-routing, call recording and communications intelligence reports, which give you valuable insights into how calls are handled. The latest communication systems also allow you to make or receive calls (while out and about or working from home) as if you were in the office.
Modern systems are much more reliable than their heritage counterparts, meaning you can save money and hassle on maintenance by performing simple adds, moves and changes yourself. And when faults do occur you have a trusted maintenance provider with the highest service care level response and fix rates.
Upgrading your communication system can also help your business improve productivity by integrating mobiles and landlines onto a single unified platform. Other features that help boost productivity include a single company phone directory, and instant messaging and presence technology that enables you to see instantly who's available.
Finally, with an eye to the future, bear in mind that the latest systems are easy to adapt and are designed to grow with your business and respond to changes in the marketplace.