Verizon Enterprise Solutions (NYSE: VZ) enabled Champion Realty to migrate to IP-based voice with its Virtual Communications Express service, illustrating how the cloud is simplifying voice service installation and management for businesses.
Leveraging BroadSoft's BroadCloud unified communications technology, Verizon provided Champion Realty with a cloud IP PBX and mobile unified communication and collaboration alternative to on-premises telephony systems.
As a result, Champion Realty said it is able to operate more efficiently across its eight branch offices and more than 250 sales associates.
Prior to switching to the Verizon cloud-based solution, Champion Realty had installed a "patchwork" of legacy PBX systems – a number of which are over 10 years old.
Since the legacy PBX systems were located on premises, Champion's IT workforce had to manage and maintain each device at each of their eight locations. As a result, Champion had not only incurred greater costs, but also tied up its small team of IT and administrative staffers.
Eric Sorensen, director of advanced communications for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said in an interview with FierceInstaller that it is seeing more of its medium-sized business customers move away from premises-based to web-based voice services to reduce costs.
"This just made sense to them and they were able to manage calls from one central location and were obviously able to reduce the costs of equipment," Sorensen said. "All offices were able to get the same look, feel and same types of services which are what they were looking for and since they are mobile they could have that number follow them."
Unlike installing a traditional hard-wired PBX system, which requires the installation of new cabling and provisioning of dedicated TDM-based circuits for each location, Verizon's Virtual Communications Express only requires a broadband connection to get access to the cloud-based service. The broadband connection could be provided by Verizon or any service provider of Champion's choice.
This service allowed Champion to rapidly install the new system and manage it centrally via a web-based portal. Verizon's remote implementation support meant Champion could smoothly transition its offices to the service without disruption.
Champion was able to run each voice system simultaneously and make a cut over to the new cloud-based service when they were ready.
"Once we set up a client profile, we're able to create all of their interworking for what they need to operate," Sorensen said. "Whether it's their auto attendants, the way their hunt groups work, and their voice mail, we can establish all the intricacies of what would be in an on-premises device in the cloud prior to porting over their numbers to it."
Sorensen added that since it's an entirely IP-based service, Verizon was able to ensure the new service was working before they shut down the legacy system.
"Since it's IP-based, we were able to replicate their service and make sure everything is working before they do the cutover, and that's what made it more seamless to the end users," Sorensen said. "When you moved from one system to another it was a hard cut where one shuts off and the other one comes up, but you can bring this up in a parallel fashion and validate everything is working before you do the hard cut of the phone lines."
Another factor was reducing costs. According to Verizon, Champion was able to "drastically reduce" capital investment relative to on- premises PBX installations. The service provider gave Champion the option of purchasing pre-configured IP phones, or leasing them to further reduce capital expenditures.
"Enterprises always had special person in the office because you could not have a person at every site and as soon as something happened you'd have to call somebody," Sorensen said. "All that went away because that person can see what's happening in every office at any time day or night."
By adopting the joint Verizon and Broadsoft service, Champion also gains access to a host of cloud-based services including cloud PBX, HD voice, auto attendant, "find me, follow me," soft phone support, mobile integration, visual voicemail, simultaneous ring and One Number calling. Champion can also perform inter-office extension dialing that is optimal for workers seeking to connect and communicate across multiple office sites.
Given the mobile nature of the real estate market, the new service also allows for each of Champion's agents to choose either a desk phone, a mobile app or simply to get an extension that rings the mobile app on their smartphone. Calls made from mobile devices display the agent's office number.
Overall, the transition was free of any major issues apart from having to deal with a faulty broadband connection.
"It went very smooth, but in all the deployments the minor glitch we had was one of their sites had an issue with their internet service," Sorensen said. "We quickly were able to work with their provider and get that up and running and those services came right over."
Sorensen said that Verizon is seeing other customers of similar sizes also embracing similar cloud-based voice services.
"We're seeing more and more of customers adopting this solution," Sorensen said. "It works out well not only for the customer where they manage it all centrally, but also for us because we can help them through their transition and once they're converted it's all in the cloud."
While Verizon's customer win with Champion showed that there's efficiencies with cloud-based voice services, the reality is that it will take a number of years for larger businesses to make this transition to all IP. This is because many have legacy PBX systems that still work so the migration will likely be done in a hybrid manner where they would equip some sites with IP and run the PBX at anchor sites.
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