If the statistics are true, chances are pretty good that your company is either using Office 365 or is considering using Office 365. The first push to Office 365 for most businesses starts with the use of the email service and Outlook, with the desire to move off of old Exchange servers and take advantage of cloud deployment. Another reason to move to the popular Microsoft platform is to update unsupported Office products (Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc.). Also, the benefit of alleviating expensive Microsoft licensing in exchange for predictable monthly costs drives many businesses to the platform. It doesn't take long to realize the immense features that are gained with a move to Office 365, but can it do even more for you? Can an Office 365 phone system truly replace your existing phone system for a complete Unified Communications solution?
Most Office 365 subscription levels for enterprises come with Skype for Business. Skype for Business delivers Instant Messaging, Presence Technology and much more. For businesses with multiple branches or locations (such as credit unions/community banks or real estate offices) the solution can drastically improve communication efficiency and reduce travel expense. Communication between employees speeds up with instant messaging, and web meetings can be put together on the fly to conduct trainings or strategy sessions.
But replacing your phone system?
Company phone systems are not a cheap investment. As aging PBX's need to be replaced, or are requiring significant time and money to maintain, companies are looking to Unified Communications to alleviate expenses and headaches associated with older systems. With a Hosted Skype for Business solution, not only can employees engage in peer-to-peer voice and video calls, but PSTN calling is now a feature that is available through the system. So an Office 365 phone system can replace phones for your intra-company needs as well as calls outside of your business.
But, again, replacing your entire phone system?
Skype for Business on its own is missing features that have been around for many years and companies still require, such as auto attendant, advanced call routing, hunt groups, web chat queuing and more. While some businesses may not feel the pains of giving up these features, or are willing to piece-meal a solution together, the absence of these have halted companies from fully embracing Office 365 for phone system needs. Your ability to use 365 to completely replace your phone system will depend on what level of features you need, as well as partnering with the right vendor to deliver a UC solution that works.