Would you buy your next phone system from Tesco?

I was discussing the changing face of the telecoms industry with a friend and I made a statement to the effect that I could see businesses buying their phone systems from the local supermarket at some point in the near future and he was sceptical. But why not?

Some will remember the days when your modern supermarket like Tesco were simply Greengrocers. This was where you went for your ‘Fruit and Veg’, the shop next door would be your Butcher and the Baker would be just a bit further down the street. As for dairy products, well they got delivered to your front door via a pre Tesla electric cart!

Over the years the humble ‘Fruit and Veg’ shop evolved in to the Supermarket, a place where all and any food stuff could be acquired in one easy convenient centre.

In more recent years the supermarket has evolved even further offering clothing, electronic goods, holidays, insurance, jewellery, music, household white goods, and so on – they have taken ‘addval’ to the extreme and due to the size of their customer base have been able to leverage that to great effect.

Business Telecoms has for a long time been seen as a ‘blackart’, and yes back in the days of wall mounted PBX systems when you needed an electronics degree and a book of short codes to even get them to receive a call, I would agree, leave it to the professional, but as with everything, things are different now.

For starters whatever size of business your telecoms should now be cloud based, it offers the highest degree of flexibility, failover and redundancy. This in itself means you don’t need to install expensive equipment on site, adhere to a maintenance contract or wait on engineers to turn up to fix things or make changes when required. Cloud based systems can be modified in an instant with any ‘adds, moves and changes’ taken care of as you need them.

Have you got a Desk Phone? I bet you have a mobile too? Ask yourself – if you were to make or receive a phone call right now, right this second, which appliance would you prefer to use; your Desk Phone or your Personal Mobile Phone? Be honest. 95% of people actually prefer the freedom and ease of use of the Mobile Phone and if you are reading this away from your desk well there is only one answer.

The mobile phone is becoming the device of choice for many businesses; you only have to look at any new tech start-up to know that it is a sign of the future for all. They utilise flexible shared office space or remote working and there is not a desk phone in sight, and as for ‘Mandy’ on reception her desk phone will simply move to her PC.

Moving your business telecoms to mobile, has huge benefits for the organisation, not just in employees being able to make and receive calls from anywhere, even whilst on the move, but stats show they actually prefer using mobile phones and the prolific growth in ‘Bring your Own Device’ (BYOD) and its success, is further testament to this.

A mobile centric solution is incredibly resilient to change and failure. Unlike in an office desk phone scenario, each mobile phone is an independent connection. If a user breaks his mobile phone, he simply puts the SIM in to another phone. If the office loses electricity, has internet issues or even moves premises, telecoms are unaffected and continue unabated whatever the disaster or situation.

It doesn’t take an accountant to understand the potential cost savings to the organisation. No office based equipment, no additional telephone or internet points and no maintenance, all add up to huge savings, plus if you elect to allow employees to bring their own phones you won’t even have the additional cost of mobile phone and SIM contracts.

These very cost savings are actually at the heart of why neither the traditional PBX Distributor nor the Mobile Operator want you to change.

Phone system suppliers earn huge commissions from selling Fixed PBX solutions and even if they are now offering cloud solutions their main income is derived from the installation and maintenance of desk phones. Conversely, you may be surprised to learn that there are some 14.2 million people in the UK alone with more than one mobile phone, many carrying one for work and one for personal use. The sheer value of supplying 14.2 million additional handsets and SIM contracts is enormous. Neither party want to lose these income streams - who could blame them?

Once you understand the true future of telecoms, a future where the mobile phone is at the centre, you suddenly realise how easy it would actually be for a firm like Tesco to be in a position to offer Business Class telecommunications.

The truth is, it is really simple, and it is no longer a black art. Taking Tesco as an example – they already sell mobile phones, sims and call plans, to add PBX services would be incredibly easy.

We have been selling Phone Systems for some 26 years and configuring a modern PBX is actually really simple. It is so easy that we have already automated a lot of the configuration, in fact our SMB solution is completely self automated, The why?; why you would route to a hunt group instead of a queue, or use an announcement instead of an IVR comes with experience, but the concepts are not difficult to grasp. Billing is the last hurdle, but for someone like Tesco who are already billing for mobile services, it would be a breeze.

The real answer to the question today, lies in the level of trust. Who would you trust with your company telecoms? A few years ago we were asking the same question about our banking – would we move our banking away from one of the ‘High Street Four’. Tesco are now a very successful Bank with millions of customers.

There was a time when we would never have conceived of doing our banking at a greengrocers – how times change.

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