Convergence: Choosing Your Specialists

It is fair to say that after this 'word' first came out almost 30 years ago that we seem to be finally there. So, what is the 'word', I hear you ask? Convergence ...

So, what is Convergence? The word derives from the Telecoms and IT worlds colliding and merging (or converging) into one platform and infrastructure, known as Internet Protocol (IP).

IT infrastructure has mainly worked on IP from the early days of networking and it really wasn't until around 2008, that IP was used in Voice telephony, hence 'Voice over IP' or more commonly known as VoIP.

"IT professionals have always steered clear of telephone systems!"

They were the domain of telecoms engineers trained to work on a particular manufacturer's hardware. Names like Avaya, Lucent, Siemens, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung, NEC, Philips and last, but not least, the world's number one, Mitel, all made their name by producing the humble Private Branch Exchange (PBX) and the Private Branch Automatic Exchange (PABX).

You may remember clunky large boxes known as Central Processing Units (CPUs) with 100s of wires going in and coming out to all the handsets on the desk through a separate voice/telephony wiring system known as 1308. The handsets were all powered by the CPU and the PBX was never connected to the networks in most cases as no access was required.

"As time has gone by, functionality has become easier too!"

For example, voicemail can be converted to an email with an audio (WAV) file and you are notified so there is no dial-in required either. This is where the convergence comes in as the CPU was connected to the IT network and email server to perform this function. The term Unified Communications (UC) also emerged in the plethora of new terms and acronyms due to these types of features.

IT Managers and Directors were getting comfortable and also took some extra interest in Telephony when new IP handsets came into the mainstream and could be used on IT networks and the structured cabling systems (Cat5e/Cat6 wiring infrastructure), which was the beginning of centralised office wiring systems first developed in the late 1990s. And boy, was it expensive at the time (I used to place the orders in those days!)

So, here we are in 2022 and more and more of the old generation digital phone systems are being replaced with VoIP and this is where you really need to choose the right specialist for that all-important transition.

Just because the CPU hardware is cloud-based, there are portals to access the programming software and the on-site handsets use IP and DHCP, this does not mean that Telephony is fully understood in terms of how it operates within a business.

Whilst IT equipment is purchased on the specification of hardware, any telephony system needs to be purchased solely based on whether or not the functions can do exactly what the business requires. For example, insurance companies use auto-diallers for automated outbound dialling and the integration with VoIP systems has determined before just choosing a system based on incoming call routing functionality.

"Telephony is still a complex technology!"

Although hardware and connectivity types may have changed, understanding business requirements haven't so getting the right technical person who understands both is a key in choosing the right, modern Telecoms solution.

It may not always be the IT department and you may need to bring in an outsourced specialist like me.

If you feel inspired to find out more then do call me on 07555 807700 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.