Buying a phone system is a no-brainer. Right?

By Steven R. Bergman

Perhaps.  Buying a telephone system can be a no-brainer if all you really need is a phone system.  And in that case, you certainly don't need a consultant, either, only an honest salesperson. And yes, they do exist.

The reason that buying a phone system is potentially a no-brainer is that, ultimately, any phone system only does three things: it handles incoming, outgoing, and internal calls.  Amost every feature, such as voice mail, call forward, call hold, callback, and so on, only exists because not all calls complete successfully the first time.  I can assert this with confidence as an ex-product manager responsible for creating and specifying telephone systems ranging from 8 to 2,000 lines, and as someone who has personally created more pabx and voice mail features than most people have ever used in their entire lives.

However, after saying all that, almost no company needs just a phone system.  Why?  Because a phone system is basically  a computer, and no one buys a computer just to have a computer.  Instead, people buy computers because of what computers can do for them.

Similarly, although any phone system can satisfy basic communications needs, why stop there? Consider the multiple business functions and operations that are or can be integrated.  Does your sales force have immediate access to inventory and your CRM system no matter where they are?  Is the information they key into their smartphones or laptops in the field immediately available at their desktops and to management as well?  Are incoming calls -- to a call center or a receptionist -- automatically directed to the correct person or resource in the correct department or on the road, speaking the correct language in a seamless, speedy, and efficient manner regardless of the time of day?  Can employees easily communicate with each other within your premises no matter where they are and automatically continue those conversations on cell phones as they leave the office? 

You might not need all of these or many other capabilities, but if you think your company needs nothing special at all, then either there's nothing at all special about your company, or else, most probably, you may need to think about it a little more.

A telecom system is not just a box that connects people. In fact, if it's cloud-based, it's not even a box. What it always is, though, is a platform that allows you to improve productivity, enrich interpersonal communications within your organization and throughout your supply chain, increase effectiveness, quicken response time, reduce costs, lift margins, and bring your organization to the next level — if that's what you want.

Any business that buys a phone system just because it needs a phone system either doesn't have specific strategic objectives, or else it is a company with ambitious plans that simply doesn't recognize an immediate opportunity to begin achieving them.

You can decide which type of company you have or what you want it to become.  You already know what kind Teleconvergence can help to succeed.

From here you may want to read  a thorough explanation of the Teleconvergence Approach to System Selection, perhaps beginning with Selecting a System – and Getting it Backward, or you may want to read our FAQ or visit our home page instead.

As a final thought, here is an excerpt from the series of articles Changing Systems? Relocating?

"As we say repeatedly, but cannot repeat often enough, every vendor, every so-called "strategic partner", has a specific product evolution and migration strategy that is theirs and theirs aloneIt is their solution regardless of anyone else's specific problem. Even if their products are a perfect fit for your needs today, those products will change and become obsolete according to that vendor's needs, not its customers.  And since any product's evolution will inevitably diverge from your company's own evolution, the probability that any vendor's strategic direction and destination wil be the same as yours is exactly zero."