Rotary Dial Phone or Unified Communications?

rotary phone
Ron Lifton

What’s better, built-to-last technologies like a rotary dial phone or Unified Communications? As a No Jitter article pointed out, a quaint 1950s rotary dial phone may have a 40 year or more MTBF (mean time between failures) but you don’t get VoIP, presence, integrated chat, desktop sharing and video conferencing.  Simply put, there is a loss in productivity and competitiveness by not using Unified Communications (UC).

UC services, which can be delivered on premise, through the cloud or both, need to be available and always on to support a business or organization as they engage with customers, prospects, partners, vendors and employees. There is momentum towards hybrid UC with some service components like telephony on premise using a current PBX infrastructure and other components like email and IM/Presence in the cloud. In some cases it is the opposite: UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) delivering voice/video services and email/messaging systems staying within the internal IT environment to meet compliance requirements. Vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, Avaya, Google, IBM, and ShorTel along with service providers like Verizon and AT&T are competing for market share, by delivering a single vendor or single UC ecosystem solution stack.

While IT may run as efficiently as electricity these days, the infrastructure has become far more complex as a result of UC.  Voice, video, and chat are dependent on routers, switches, servers, call control software, cloud resources, LANs and WANs. Enterprises for the most part have adopted SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking and migrating to session border controllers (SBCs), with the benefits of reduced telecom expenses, interoperability, security, and resiliency. UC is becoming more tightly coupled with other IT systems such as email, calendar, authentication and DNS systems over the converged IP network. Zeus Kerravala asked in a TechTarget article, The Rise of UC Applications, what if all of the UC functions could be launched from within the CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) application?  He noted that UC vendors now have a single toolkit for all UC functions and with it a platform for innovation. 


By embracing UC tools, employees within the enterprise can accomplish any task and collaborate with anyone, no matter where they are located. But UC users can experience such things as call failures, no dial-tone, choppy voice, and video freeze. When service degradations happen, depending on the industry, it can cost an organization between $1.1 million and $2.5 million an hour.  In a study done by Network Computing, the Meta Group and Contingency Planning Research, it was determined that telecommunications, manufacturing, energy and retail lead the list of industries with a high rate of revenue loss during IT downtime.

The customer experience is now intertwined with internal IT. According to a HBR article, customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience. Delivering the highest quality customer experience requires a service assurance solution that includes a complete understanding of the UC experience. The best way to do that is through continuous monitoring of traffic-based data and real time analysis of voice and video media performance, call signaling and UC server performance, as well as network and enablers (e.g. DHCP) infrastructure performance.  Enterprises will not only keep customers happy with rapid triage of complex UC problems, but also achieve the desired ROI for UC transformation projects.

While the rotary dial phone was “built to last”, there is no doubt Unified Communications is “cool”, a slang word originally used in the 1950s, and requires exceptional service performance so that enterprises can compete and innovate in today’s Connected World.

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