Can businesses now expect to get all their IT and telecoms services from a single hosting provider? Or is it still better to shop around for the best specialist supplier of all kinds of services?
It used to be the case that IT and telecoms services were always purchased separately from different specialist providers. But need that be the case anymore? The Internet has changed everything and to a great extent levelled the playing field and lowered barriers to entry.
All kinds of IT and comms services are now available through the cloud – from Microsoft Office 365, though to voice-over-IP (VoIP) services that require businesses only to have handsets that are connected to the network at their location.
This means that companies who used to provide IT solutions and services only can now also offer telephony; and communications specialists can also offer IT services. In both cases, they can offer the services without actually having to invest in any new equipment. All they need to do is go through the necessary sales and technical training to ensure that they can talk to customers about the services on offer with some degree of confidence
Best of both
As a result. many companies now act as providers for both IT and hosted VoIP services, so it’s certainly possible to obtain both from a single source or ‘one-stop—shop provider. But is that the best course of action? As with any business decision, it is a matter of assessing your own needs and what kind of service you need in the future.
In simple terms, the smaller you are and the simpler your needs, the more sense it makes to go with a single supplier who can meet all your needs. For smaller businesses, it is easier to have one point of responsibility for all IT and communications services. As long as your needs are simple, this might also be the best option for businesses that are slightly larger, as any competent supplier ought to be able to meet your needs.
However, most organisations that have specialist or complex requirements, or a large number of employees and locations, are still better off looking to find suppliers that are specialists in their respective technology areas.
If, for example, you have multiple offices spread across a region, or right across the UK, then you may need several different telephone numbers that are all linked into a single telephony system that will allow calls and call transfer to take place between these different locations, and additional functionality, such as multi-site conferencing and programmable auto-attendant systems. You may also want to get detailed reports from your hosted voice service.
In such a situation, it would certainly be advisable to seek out a specialist provider who has the knowledge and experience of VoIP for business to fully understand your needs, and to provide an appropriate system.
Equally, if you work operate in a relatively specialist field, such as manufacturing or financial services for example, you may have quite specific requirements that your IT systems must fulfil, with respect to processes, security and data storage. For many businesses, compliance with regulations and the need to ensure data is held safely and even within the UK, are now important considerations. In such cases, you would certainly need to work with an IT specialist in this field.
All of that said, this does not mean that your IT supplier can’t provide hosted voice services; or indeed that your telecoms suppliers can’t offer IT services. But every established company that offers such a combination is going to have come from a legacy in one or the other of these sectors, so they will have a bias in terms of their skills and experience. This is worth careful consideration since, if an area such as telephony is really important to you, it’s important that the supplier does have the appropriate skills to support customers.
Host with the most
The best suppliers of both IT and telecoms services are probably those who have been ‘born in the cloud’ and set up from the outset as hosted providers or managed services providers. These companies will not have any legacy or bias towards either IT or comms, and should also possess the technical nous to set-up, configure and manage all the hosted services you require on the cloud.
They will also be able to scale their operations and costs to suit the needs of businesses of almost any size, and the flexibility to adapt as your needs change.
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer – it really does depend on the needs of your business. But if it’s what suits you best, you certainly don’t need to split the supply of your IT and comms services, you can get them all on one place.