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managing converged communications

Consultant's Corner

Some Quick Hit Thoughts on Hosted VoIP PABX Solutions

Moving the PABX to the cloud is building momentum in the global lodging market.

The low up front capital requirements are attractive to owners and total cost of ownership has come down to an extent that all of the major brands are taking a look at the various options. One of the core challenges in evaluating providers is the issue of quality. The quality differentials between hosted VoIP PABX solutions are sometimes significant(!)

Here are a few hints to help determine the good from the merely cheap.

• The conversation should start with a 99.99% up time guarantee along with meaningful SLA’s.

All the Solution Providers going to try to wow you with their own particular cloud reliability narratives and there’s no way for the average hotel manager to know whose solution is most clever. Tough performance SLA’s put the pressure on the provider instead of the customer….as it should be.

• 911 Access and guest safety issues are a primary consideration. If they make it past the 99.99% up time guarantee, make sure that even when the network is down, callers can get to the local 911 operator and that the hotel operators know about it….real time.

• Quality Matters…….a managed, quality of service (QOS) network router is central to a quality hosted PABX solution. You’re converging your voice and data and it’s important that voice traffic takes a priority over data (911 calls for instance). If the solution provider doesn’t put an emphasis on QOS…red flag.

• A Little redundancy, please….. The elephant in the room when it comes to hosted PABX is the question “what happens if the network goes down”? The answer is that you can’t make or receive phone calls so each solution provider has an approach to address this dreaded circumstance. The one closest to “a seamless transition to an alternative network" wins this question.

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Turn loose Your Skeptic!

We all like sales meetings and results presentations that go according to plan and where no serious, unexpected challenges arise. Consultants frequently return from such presentations to report the meeting as a complete success as evidenced by the fact that no serious objections or barriers were raised that would prevent the client from moving forward with the project.

Clients too appreciate these meetings, as the lack of unexpected challenges generally correlates to the avoidance of embarrassment in front of intra-company peers from whom, if not sponsorship, then at least positive acquiescence is sought.

Afterwards the client will report back to the consultant that they thought the meeting went well and that they would be further discussing the go forward plan shortly.

The problem is that more often than not these meetings don’t go anywhere.

These ”aren’t we all getting along well” meetings lack the fire that build a meaningful consensus and inspires aggressive decision-making.

What the meeting needs is a skeptic on the client’s end that early in the meeting says:

“just so you’re aware,

I don’t believe your projections

or your results

and I can’t imagine that we would sponsor a program like this”.

Now we’ve got a meeting!

What the client’s team wants to know is why they should believe that the projected benefits or results are truly representative of what’s going to happen moving forward. The key word in the previous sentence is “believe” and there are few power point presentations strong enough to inspire belief. Belief is inspired by clear ideas, facts and methodologies that can withstand an aggressive and thoughtful challenge.

So that unsmiling, dour skeptic in the corner is the best friend that both the consultant and the client have in the room.


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