In the past, telecommunications technology was something understood, managed and acquired by the IT manager alone. Office based hardware, specialist voice networks and complex maintenance meant management and control were lodged firmly in the IT department.
The advent of cloud-based communications has changed all that. Simple, lower-cost communications bristling with features and simple integrations has resonated with tech-savvy business managers across the organisation, not just IT. Furthermore, the widespread acceptance of “bring your own device” and the influence of a millennial culture have fuelled a personal interest in the technology amongst company staff.
The result is a desire for hands-on access to features and analytics that impact productivity and provide the agility that is so important to surviving in today’s competitive market environment. There is a confidence amongst non-IT employees to take control, driven by a desire to work better.
Managers in sales, marketing, customer support, admin and even members of the board each stand to gain from direct access and control of phone system features. In consequence, cloud phone developers are under pressure to design systems that offer the simplicity of management, configuration and data analysis that allows business managers to use the powerful phone features.
This demand for control was witnessed in the research supporting the development of our new cloud phone system, Voxivo. By listening to our client base, taking feedback from beta trials and including a distillation of our 17 years’ experience, we created a clear picture of the needs, skills and working practices associated with users and managers of business communications today. The response came back loud and clear – managers from different departments, in addition to IT, gain benefit from the utilisation and direct control of phone system functions.
Armed with this, we developed Voxivo with the specific mission of bringing simplicity and control of cloud phone capabilities to the business managers who need them. By associating management roles with their respective feature sets, we were able to pinpoint “control hotspots”. The majority of these highlighted where the IT manager was dominant in maintaining control of the system. Interestingly, others pointed to customer support, sales teams and even board members, indicating a desire from these managers to control key features. Further specific features were the focus of admin teams and marketing staff.
Control of features involving voicemail management, call forwarding or hot-desking was in demand control across several management roles. Not surprisingly, customer support and sales managers shared a strong requirement for control of hunt groups, call queuing and team-based call management, all having an impact on customer experience. Equally, the IT manager showed a stronger requirement for those features that save cost (call analytics), maintain security (fraud control) or simply demand a higher level of technical competence (DDI provisioning). On other occasions, managers from both IT and the business demonstrated interest in sharing certain controls (call recording, dial plan creator).
So, is this all a threat to the IT manager’s role? How is the IT manager reacting to others appearing on the IT patch?
Our experience is that the over-worked, under resourced IT manager is only too pleased to unload certain phone management tasks to colleagues in other departments. The time and cost saved in IT workload is significant. Also, by retaining control of admin rights to system access, the IT manager has the peace of mind that security and regulatory compliance regulations will not be infringed.
Of course, there’s also the important network and infrastructure controls underpinning the quality of calls and delivery of services by the system. At Foehn, we offer quality-managed network connectivity as part of our system package but with other vendors this is left to the IT manager.
Is this move to self-service management of the business phone system just a passing phase or does it represent a more significant shift in business practice and management mentality? Our experience confirms, without doubt, that business managers will expect greater control over their communications in the future. The evidence can be seen in management roles that are becoming more specific, with titles like “database manager” and “customer experience director”. As a consequence of this trend, “business communications” is appearing more frequently in job specifications and Key Performance Indicators and phone system control is all the more important.
Devolved control is here to stay but there are two critical factors that system vendors must address to make it happen. Intuitive design and simplicity of operation are paramount in the development of the phone management system. It is not enough to just enable business users, they must have a desire or even an enthusiasm to use a system that is enjoyable to use.
If you’d like to see an example of how beautiful design can be applied in this way, take a look at our Voxivo Cloud Phone System here. Check out the drag-and-drop dial plan creator as a typical example of how the complex can be made simple.
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