Peter Kugler talks about the future of Microsoft Teams in office telephony. What immediate changes are emerging in terms of current contact center trends? And where is the journey heading?
What role will Teams play in office telephony in the coming years?
What has been conjured up for several decades is about to arrive: Traditional telecommunications solutions will give way to a fully digitized environment. The paradigm shift is comparable to photography, which has now been left almost exclusively to smartphones. In many countries, this has already happened; in the DACH region, it took a little longer. However, Microsoft has now set everything in motion to implement the digitization of the telephony and data worlds in Western Europe as well.
What measures has Microsoft taken here in recent years?
The focus on data centers close to customers grants the public sector and other institutions access to the cloud, where Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 are hosted. Concerns about data ending up in the U.S., for example, are eliminated. What was previously the biggest disadvantage has become the biggest strength: Customers no longer need to worry about data security, availability, backups and GDPR, but simply cede this responsibility.
If the GDPR is not complied with, the contractual partner Microsoft has to answer for it. And all that at subscription costs. Since the maintenance of hardware landscapes is also eliminated, the changeover quickly pays for itself. Microsoft is currently building up an advantage that will be hard for competitors to catch up on.
What do you have to bear in mind when you switch to Teams? What does the changeover look like in practice?
On the one hand, Teams is familiar to most Windows users, and the training effort is close to zero. Activate the license, plug in the headset – and in addition to the chat channel, you can also use telephony in the Teams app.
However, things look different on the admin side: Behind the simple user interface is an extremely complex system with many options. Telephony in Teams also presents companies with a serious new challenge: if you want to use service units, call flows, queues, IVRs, etc., i.e. map the entire office telephony in Teams in a meaningful way, previous system administrators and even Teams experts lack detailed knowledge. The know-how that Voice over IP experts have acquired over the past decades must now be further applied. Accordingly, the majority of our VoIP team has already completed advanced training courses for teams. They support our customers with combined knowledge to derive the greatest added value from the transformation.
What is the added value of handling office telephony via Teams?
We have accompanied our customers and partners over the last decades, when the decision was still made: Analog or digital? We also developed CTI solutions that enable hybrid operation. And now, finally, this circle is closed – also in the public sector: The latest advantages of digitalization can be fully exploited, while at the same time all existing systems are seamlessly integrated.
Let’s assume that Teams telephony is sufficient for 97% of all employees. Then, of course, they will use Teams from now on. However, the other 3% cannot do without a professional TC environment with contact center functions. The task here is therefore to harmonize the systems. Through interfaces to CRM systems, by reconciling availability statuses and merging data for reporting, to name just a few examples.
So the greatest advantage of the Teams setup is its interaction with other solutions?
There is no way around it. The challenges of the service and contact center world are becoming more and more complex. Also the number of requests is rising, as are expectations. To rely exclusively on a reduced solution here is the wrong direction. The interfaces of teams and the integration with other systems must be implemented sensibly in order to map processes as efficiently as possible.
This is exactly what we have specialized in over the last 20 years, during which we have enabled many customers to operate between the worlds. Now this balancing act scores with its greatest benefit: Every single user uses the most useful functions in the most cost-efficient and secure model.
What do I have to give up if I don’t use Teams?
The main argument in favor of Teams is the convenience of getting started with systems that are already known and established. However, this convenience can of course also be achieved within your own telephony infrastructure. This can be modernized with the appropriate software, as we do with the link|that CUBE and our softphone. In this way, we give on premise solutions a boost that allows them to be connected to modern systems. AI features such as keyword spotting and sentiment analysis will then also be possible.
A wide range of models is now also available in terms of data security and costs. Whether and when a customer moves completely to the cloud must be weighed up individually. Our portfolio aims to make working in existing systems, but also the switch or complete new entry as smooth as possible.