Reasons to move from 3CX (and other IP PBX systems) to Bicom Systems… I did

Note from the editor: We are excited to have our first post from Stephen Corrigan, former Sales Director for 3CX and newest member of the Bicom Systems team. Below he shares his experiences in the industry and what inspired him to leave 3CX and come to Bicom Systems.

3cx
The telecommunications industry has seen some dramatic changes over the decades – from Centrex to digital Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX) – most recently in the early 2000s with the advent of software based IP PBX systems such as Asterisk for Linux and 3CX on Microsoft Windows, providing much needed convergence and integration between the IT and Telecommunications worlds.

But the market has moved on once again, from these earlier, predominantly on premise, systems, which are seeing declining sales, to a subscriber based services model, where multiple communications channels: voice, video, messaging (chat), collaboration, screen sharing, file transfer etc., are delivered over the internet directly to your customer’s employees.

This is a fundamental change, a change that many of the existing incumbent manufacturers just cannot deliver upon.

The Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market is estimated to grow to over $96 billion annually, with the North American subscriber base set to grow dramatically from 11.6 million today to over 27 million subscribers by 2023, that is a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 25-30%.

So, with the changing landscape you are being asked yet again to make decisions and changes to your business, your model, your infrastructure, your services and reevaluate your current technology business partners. Are they delivering for you?

If your technology partners are only providing PBX software, like 3CX and many others, then they are emphatically not and are not producing for you!

In today’s market, you need to offer your existing and new customers not only improved core services, but also the ability to engage with you in the manner that they are now accustomed to and provide more self-service capabilities.

Our relationship with technology has changed. Just look at our own personal lives and see how we interact with technology today. We are all consumers of technology and are willing to pay monthly subscriptions for what we want and desire, whether that be entertainment with Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, or our cell phone contracts so we can keep up with the newest handsets as soon as they are released; we do our shopping 24/7 from the convenience of our home, as we do our banking. We also want control over our subscription based services, adding or changing our subscriptions, engaging with our service providers using an online portal 24/7 – We want that convenience and simplicity.

Businesses are no different. No longer do businesses wish to make a purchasing decision and invest in technology with a minimum of a 5-year lifecycle, being stuck with that decision. Just like us personally, businesses are consumers of technologies, subscribing to the services that their business needs to operate such as Microsoft Office 365, SalesForce.com (and other ERP/CRM systems) and of course Telephony and Unified Communications. And for very good reasons – it’s simple, it fits within their budgetary constraints, there are no equipment costs, no maintenance costs, no system management costs, and no vendor lock-in, just simplicity and convenience.

In today’s changing market it is no longer sufficient to sell and install PBX equipment on the customer premise. Buyers do not want that and they are voting with their wallets. You need to provide businesses more – flexibility, simplicity, and convenience.

In addition to providing core Unified Communications functions, you need to offer your customers methods of engaging with you on the basis that they want. You need to offer them comprehensive online services where they can sign up for your service, creating an online portal from where they can order additional products and services from you, upgrade their existing service plans, view and pay their bills, automate the billing process, automate the credit card or PayPal payment process, customer care functions where your customers can raise and track trouble tickets. In three words – flexibility, simplicity, and convenience.

And finally, delivering the service over the Internet requires some additional skills and technologies, from infrastructure to server and network virtualization so that you can deliver robust, fault tolerant, redundant services 24/7 to your customers with 99.999% uptime.

If your current technology partner cannot provide you these additional functional layers over and above a PBX, it is time to reevaluate.

So what can you do about this today? Well, you have several options open: (1) do nothing, business as usual, (2) invest the necessary cash in building out your own technologies and infrastructure to deliver these services, (3) work with existing service providers as an agent on a commission basis, but that is not very satisfying and does not create value in your business, or (4) do something different – engage with Bicom Systems.

Bicom Systems provides all the necessary pieces for the ITSP jigsaw. With Bicom Systems and our private white label UCaaS platform you can build:

  • YOUR Business by leveraging our infrastructure, investment, technologies people and expertise to tap into the booming UCaaS market.
  • YOUR Brand by marketing and delivering UCaaS services in your own unique brand on a local, regional, national, or even international basis. Creating value in your business.
  • YOUR Way, you set pricing and service plans, you do it all your way, you’re in total control.

3cxOnly by changing can you survive and prosper in this market. Bicom Systems can help you make the change and get you there.

Learn more by visiting www.bicomsystems.com or by contacting me directly at sc@bicomsystems.com.

 

Breaking the Silence on Skyswitch

skyswitchThough we have discussed our competitors a number of times on this blog, it is never something that I like to do. I am a firm believer in “rising above,” especially in a professional setting. But the “marketing” efforts coming out of a company called SkySwitch have pushed even me to the point of breaking my silence.

SkySwitch is again using the search phrase “Bicom Systems” in an attempt drive traffic to their website. (A piece of advice – if your own brand name is not bringing in enough traffic, there are thousands of industry-relevant keywords to focus on before resorting to other companies’ brand names.)

This time they are proclaiming that “it’s time to cheat on Bicom Systems.” At the risk of stooping to their level of using immature, inflammatory language in what should be a professional setting – dare we throw out the phrase “if they will cheat with you, they will cheat on you.” Of course business partnerships are not really like marriages, but trust is an important part of both. Our advice to you: choose a partner that values integrity and trust.

As far as I can tell, SkySwitch is claiming that subscribers of all major communications providers (the document I was given is clearly not specific to Bicom Systems) should switch to them on the basis of nine reasons. I will respond to each of these as concisely as possible and include evidence so you can come to your own conclusions. (Yes, we are confident enough in our own solutions and partners to transparently discuss potential issues.)

1. “You know there are problems before you (SIC) provider does”

Their first claim is that your business may be in trouble and no one will notice. Bicom Systems developed SIP Monitoring and SIP Security modules for this exact purpose. Issues will not only be identified, but even fixed automatically.

2. “No escalation procedure in place”

You can see our escalation procedure here: www.bicomsystems.com/support (I guess SkySwitch didn’t do their research before putting pen to paper.)

We whole-heartedly agree with their claim that “problems happen”. No provider is perfect and bugs will arise with Bicom Systems or SkySwitch or any other provider. However, after 15 years of experience, our team of technical support engineers and telecommunications experts responds to support tickets quickly and efficiently. But don’t take our word for it – check out our customer reviews here: blog.bicomsystems.com/customer-reviews.

Going one step further, SkySwitch claims that your platform is “connected to many carriers and third-party providers.  While most problems within your service provider’s own platform should be easily solved, those that originate outside their platform may require cooperation among a number of companies.” On the contrary, Bicom Systems partners typically do not require other carriers or third-party providers as we have all of the pieces in-house, thus avoiding many compatibility issues in the first place.

3. “Poor Processes = Poor Performance”

“There are reasons to have solid procedures in place when customers report issues or open trouble tickets.” Again, see our support procedures here: www.bicomsystems.com/support

Our support team put together efficient support and escalation procedures years ago. This is not something that occurs naturally in a company, but rather something that needs dedication, organization, and experience to perfect.

4. “Poor SLA Delivery”

We sign an SLA (Service Level Agreement) with all of our partners. You can see it here: www.bicomsystems.com/files/public/corporate/SLA.pdf.

May we also point out that we have more staff in our Support Department than SkySwitch has total staff. Our support team is spread across three continents for maximum reach and availability.

5. “Data Leakage Among Clients”

SkySwitch expresses a concern that data may be leaked between partners in the absence of a true multi-tenant platform. Fortunately for us and our partners, Bicom Systems actually developed one of the first multi-tenant platforms with unlimited extensions and tenants. We guarantee 100% scalability and elasticity to our partners and resellers, so of course we have the same capacity internally by default. Learn about our Multi-Tenant platform here: www.bicomsystems.com/products/multi-tenant-pbx

See our Privacy Policy here: www.bicomsystems.com/legal/policies/privacy_policy

6. “Tax Compliance Failure”

Our partners typically use our in-house billing software and integrate it with the Tax Provider of their choice. Again, we are more than happy to work on an individual basis and develop custom solutions when necessary. Read more in our TELCOware manual.

7. “More Iron to Support Growth”

SkySwitch points out an interesting difference between hosted and cloud solutions. “In a hosted solution, there is often hardware and servers specifically dedicated to servicing a particular client. Servers may need to be added to address the growth of that client or support premium features such as on demand call recording.” Not to worry, Bicom Systems offers true, high-availability cloud solutions that support scalability – both up and down – with just the click of a button. Read our definition of “cloud” here: blog.bicomsystems.com/what-is-cloud-communications

And we’ll add here that we are not limited to the cloud, but also have hosted, premise, and even Key Systems. Growth can happen however is best for your company.

8. “Insisting on Long-Term Contracts”

We offer our hosted and rented solutions with 30-day contracts. It never occurred to us to make them longer – to date no one has stopped paying.

9. “Provider Diversity is Met With Dismay”

On the contrary, many of our customers come to us from legacy situations. We always value the knowledge gained by working with other providers. With partners around the globe, diversity is no stranger to Bicom Systems and we have developed custom solutions to ensure compatibility with third parties many times.

In conclusion, if you are interested in Bicom Systems or already a partner and experiencing any issues or discontentment – just give us a call. To date, we have not lost any of our partners to SkySwitch. We are happy to chat about what’s going on and work together to a solution. It is not unusual for us to develop custom solutions for individual partners to ensure they are getting exactly what they need. Check out some examples here: blog.bicomsystems.com/category/custom-work 

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Can Your Mechanic Do An Oil Change? (Thirdlane Support)

thirdlaneWe have been working with a company that was wavering between PBXware and Thirdlane. They have demos running of each option and are testing all of the features before making a final decision.

When testing inbound faxing (fax-to-email), the company ran into an issue on the Thirdlane demo. They reached out to Thirdlane support – it is worth mentioning here that their support department is just one person – who had no idea that their system even included inbound faxing. So much for troubleshooting the issue.

Fortunately, the testers were savvy enough to resolve the issue themselves, but left with a feeling of wariness about the utility of Thirdlane support.

Our Account Manager on the case made this poignant comparison: “If you bring your car in for an oil change only to find that the mechanic didn’t even know your car had an oil filter, you will be peeling out of there faster than you can say ‘rip-off’.”

In all seriousness, no platform is perfect and you are going to need support well beyond the initial purchase and installation. Don’t settle for anything less than an experienced, knowledgeable, and dependable team of support professionals.

Amazon Connect Review

amazon connect call centerKnowledge is power, especially in the fast-paced world of technology where things are changing so quickly. At Bicom Systems we like to research and even test new products as they come out so that we know what we are up against. One of our developers recently spent some time looking at the Amazon Contact Center solution and wrote a review for all of you:

Amazon Connect: A Review

GUI

The GUI is not anywhere near where it should be. The content is breaking out and overflowing. Components take up too much space that you do not needed. Everything is fixed, you cannot adjust the window size, etc.

Contact Flow

Creating call flow logic is very easy with their graphical interface. You have components in which you add and connect with wires and then make logic. The starting position is the number which callers will dial and then enter into the system. I tried some custom, it was not too complex and it worked. But the question is how it will behave in a more complex situation. There are still some GUI problems. For example, when you move or edit a component, the connection is lost and you have to wire it again. After publishing it will show you errors and where you should fix it.

Prompts and Text-To-Speech

Prompts have the capability to use text-to-speech or recording. Text-to-speech is great for building small prompts, but of course it only works only with English.

Statistics

Amazon went with customizable reports, so it allows you to choose fields from a list and then you can save and run it again. This sound nice, but as I tried making a few reports – BAM – I would run into errors or fields that showed no data. If you want to talk optimization, well we know there is none. Even with little data, it requires a couple of seconds to build every report. And if you add fields, it takes longer and longer. So handling large data may not be possible.

The most annoying thing that I ran into was that when I was expecting certain data, it would not show at all or would show lower values than expected. So data accuracy is a big issue.

Also, unlike in our statistics, you cannot filter by time, for example from 8:00 to 11:00. You cannot break the data down to see all the CDRs an agent had at that time.

So statistics gets a big thumbs down. Though it may have plenty of filters and features, everything comes down to speed and accuracy.

Conclusion

Amazon took the approach of making everything customizable. But even with that in mind, there are too many things missing. First of all, you cannot create any queue strategies. You could create flows, but you cannot achieve automatization. Also, there are many instances of queue configuration on our system which would require big flows or be impossible to make. Statistics covers a lot of fields, but accuracy and speed are big problems here.

They have this simple WRTC softphone that works for simple functions – dial, hangup, transfer – but real call centers agents often need to see with whom they are talking. For now, the agent is put in this “after call work” state for every call, so there are no options like wrap-up time, auto pause, etc.

In conclusion, this software does not yet provide a good solution for large call centers. And even for small call centers, there are lot of bugs and GUI problems that need to solved.

If you would like to learn about our own call center solution, please visit our website.

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Is Avaya the new Nortel?

avayaEveryone is talking about the Avaya Bankruptcy and what it means for the future. No Jitter had a very interesting piece on the bankruptcy that we thought was worth sharing: Avaya Bankruptcy: Good or Bad for Customers?

The author, Phil Edholm, believes that the speed of the bankruptcy process is of great importance. He compares the bankruptcies of Nortel, which was a long and painful process, and that of Aspect, who reached a much quicker conclusion.

Edholm explains that “Chapter 11 is designed to enable continued operations and return to normal business (versus the total liquidation of Chapter 7), creditors have claims to all of a company’s assets and cash. Those claims can prolong the bankruptcy process, and often lead to liquidation, which is what happened in the Nortel case.”

On the other hand, Aspect was able to avoid this by securing the support of creditors and developing a plan before filing.

Reports from Avaya indicate that they do not have a plan and are only beginning the process of negotiations.

With the outlook looking so uncertain, this seems to distract from the essential issue – why did they get into this position in the first place?

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