08.02.16

Cloud phone systems in the public sector

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James Passingham, chief technical officer at Foehn, explains why the communications company has produced a Buyer’s Guide to Cloud Phone Systems for the Public Sector.

The rise of cloud phone systems

As cloud adoption continues to grow in the public sector, more and more government bodies and local authorities are choosing a cloud phone system as a modern alternative or to replace a traditional one. There are several reasons for this trend, including significant financial savings associated with the cloud as well as clear productivity and operational benefits. ICT now represents a sizeable proportion of public sector budgets, which is why making the most of technology has become extremely important, telephony included.

However, the telephony market is awash with jargon as well as good degree of highly confusing messages, which is why Foehn has produced a free Buyer's Guide for anyone in the public sector considering a cloud phone system or looking to procure one.

As communications technology evolves and ageing systems come to the end of their natural life, what we’ve found is that public sector organisations are at different stages with their telephony, some rigidly holding on to what they have and some a long way advanced with their thinking and approach.

Typical scenarios include:

  • Organisations already using hosted telephony
  • Organisations with an onsite telephone system and a reliance on external maintenance partners
  • Organisations looking at maintaining the status quo or upgrading, but at a significantly lower cost in terms of the set-up and maintenance

Changing mindsets

The adoption and take-up of Open Source solutions and modern cloud-based IP (Internet Protocol) communications is as much about mindsets as it is the technical and financial aspects of a solution.

Some organisations are reluctant to change, especially if the phone system they have in situ still has some life breathing through it. Others have come to recognise the financial, technical and operational benefits of progressing to a modern IP system. Where mindsets do need to change they will be assisted in part by successful implementations that demonstrate clear benefits, including cost savings, greater efficiencies and new ways of working.

Boston Borough Council is one such example where a small pilot project alerted the management team to a range of efficiency savings and other operational benefits, including flexible staff working, improved call centre measurement and performance and also a robust and resilient disaster recovery plan. In the process the Council was also able to save over 40% of its telecoms costs compared to its previous telephony set-up.

The Buyer’s Guide

The primary aim of the Public Sector Buyer’s Guide to Cloud Phone Systems is to provide information, guidance and useful tips to consider when making the decision to move to cloud telephony. It sets out how a modernised communications infrastructure can significantly reduce overall telephony running costs with the right system in place.

In our experience the public sector is quite different from the private sector in that it faces unique challenges that need to be considered when moving to cloud telephony. As well as setting out the clear benefits of having a cloud phone system, the Guide illustrates exactly how local authorities can save money and improve efficiencies. The case of Boston Borough Council is illustrated, detailing over a five year period how it is making cost savings of over 40%.

The Guide also discusses the advantages of Open Source in telephony as an alternative to proprietary systems.

Open Source

Since the publication of the UK government’s digital strategy paper in April 2013, adoption of Open Source in the public sector has rocketed and for several very good reasons. Historically government bodies and local authorities have faced issues with the proprietary approach such as vendor lock in, high costs, unreasonable delays and abandoned projects.

Open Source technologies are applicable to most industry sectors and the telephony sector has become a major user of Open Source to deliver projects that help to overcome these issues. The Buyers Guide outlines the type of Open Source telephony platforms and technologies available, such as Asterisk, as well as the type of Open Source skills needed for telephone system implementations.

The Open Source approach has become attractive to the public sector because collaboration will drive greater efficiencies across the central and local government, especially as there are many common and shared goals between public sector bodies, such as improving public services and driving greater efficiencies.

Download the Public Sector Buyers Guide to Cloud Phone Systems here.

About Foehn

Foehn is a leading communication systems integrator, delivering IP telephony and contact centre solutions to the private and public sectors. We are an innovative, flexible and attentive SME and what also makes us different is that we are passionate about Open Source technology. It enables us to provide innovative solutions that are more feature rich, easily integrated and cheaper than the proprietary platforms from legacy multi-national vendors.

Foehn is proud to be a member of the Government's G-Cloud and Digital Marketplace framework, as well as being selected as provider of IP telephony services on the government's new Network Services framework. Foehn can transform IP telephony for public sector organisations, improve efficiencies and reduce fixed telephony costs by as much as 40%.

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