While many businesses still put land-line phone systems to work, as well as desktop phone systems, many other businesses are looking into voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to help save money and, in some cases, bring in new features that were previously unavailable. But for MTC Australia, a not-for-profit firm that offers employment and training services, the move to VoIP is taking place, and it's part of a larger move to get, as its chief information officer Branko Ceran describes, out of “the dark ages.”
Ceran notes that the company's plan to move into VoIP is part of a larger move that's designed to drop the company's IT costs, a “cloud-first strategy” that will help give MTC Australia access to more capability at lower prices. Back in September 2013, Ceran started up an implementation of Lync VoIP, along with Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based productivity software. Part of said implementation involved having the office staff unplug desktop phones and bring said phones to a meeting, where the staff was shown how to use Lync and was in turn issued headsets to help get the ball rolling. Some desktop phones were kept, mainly for meeting rooms, while the staff itself was shown how to put iPhone and Android devices to work in accessing Lync.
As for why the switches were staged in the first place, Ceran noted several critical points. High on the list was a reduction in overall technology costs, but beyond that was a desire to take better advantage of mobility, as well as to bring in a new set of collaboration tools that would actually be put to work. Indeed, reports suggest that the company is already regularly using SharePoint and Lync to serve as collaboration tools without needing to move to different locations, and desktop sharing tools are also on hand to help show others how to use different functions in an unfamiliar system. Ceran further notes a 20 percent improvement in collaboration, as noted via a staff survey. Moreover, application delivery is up 300 percent, and bandwidth upgrade costs dropped fully two-thirds. But this isn't all; MTC Australia is also working to phase out the desktop computer, instead going to a notebook / tablet only program in which the desktop PC is scuttled instead of refreshed when it comes time to do so normally. Under Ceran's plan, eventually, the 500 employees of MTC Australia will eventually be using only tablets or notebooks to carry out a day's operations.
Cost savings, increased mobility, collaboration capabilities...these are all great reasons to look more to the cloud when it comes to doing business. More portable devices certainly help here, and indeed, many are looking more toward the portables than the standard desktop when it comes to getting a workday accomplished. There's a lot to be said for making a move to more cloud-based systems, even though the cautious out there will keep a local presence on hand for redundancy's sake as well as offline working when a connection goes down.
Putting all one's eggs in one basket has never really been a smart plan, so extra backup on hand likely won't prove a bad idea. But there's certainly room and reason for making a move to the cloud for many common functions, and MTC Australia's success thus far should serve as all the proof anyone needs. Indeed, Ceran himself underscored the idea, suggesting that other CIOs considering a move to the cloud should “stop analyzing and just do it.”