The COVID-19 imperative
During the lockdown that started last March, use of Microsoft Teams grew by 894% compared to February. Zoom use grew by 677%. Workers have accelerated the take up of video calling, instant messaging, and other UC&C solutions to remain productive and keep in touch with colleagues. Recent months saw a sharp rise in the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls as well as traditional voice calling. Orange Group reported an increase in mobile data traffic across Europe similar to that seen at peak times like Christmas and New Year.
Why was there such a hike in voice calls?
One of the main reasons is that although Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and other UC&C suites are excellent tools for workers to remain productive and in contact with colleagues, they are not initially designed for external use. Many people who have been isolated during lockdown have needed to call customers, partners and suppliers, so employers have sought to give them a way to do so that is not restricted to the office.
In the UK we have had a significant number of customers asking us to connect their Microsoft Teams to their traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTNs), to enable their workers to be as productive from home as from the office, while keeping costs down.
What is Direct Routing?
You may not have heard of Direct Routing before, but if you are a Microsoft Teams user, you are certainly going to in the near future. Direct Routing connects your Microsoft Teams and Office 365 deployments to the PSTN network. It allows your workers to make and receive external calls, from anywhere, on any device running the Teams application: fixed or mobile. Normal IP phone or softphone.
Direct Routing completes your Microsoft Teams users’ experience and gives them access to all the features you would expect from a traditional PBX phone system. It gives you an integrated solution that helps you enhance your remote working proposition and give your employees a home workplace experience more akin to being in the office.
What are the business benefits?
Direct Routing improves your corporate communications. Integrating Direct Routing into your Microsoft Teams set-up makes home workers able to operate much more like they were in the office and turns Teams into a genuine cloud telephone system. By connecting your Teams to the PSTN, it enables your customers, suppliers and partners to all call you directly in Teams from their own landlines or mobiles. Similarly, you can call them on their landlines and mobiles directly from Teams.
Direct routing integrated with Teams also gives you great cost efficiencies. You already pay for your Microsoft Teams, so why would you want to pay for additional outgoing landline and mobile systems, too? Implementing Direct Routing can result in a significant cost saving in outbound voice calls for your organization. Many of my clients save between 25% and 40% of their usage spend when they replace local PSTN connections and calling plans.
There is also the possibility to deploy Direct Routing as a service (DRaaS), which has its own commercial benefits: if the OPEX, pay-per-user-per-month model is more attractive to you, you can go that way, and it also saves you money by removing the CAPEX required to install and maintain an on-premise PBX phone system. Direct routing also offers global coverage that circumvents any additional local costs, and its cloud-based nature even brings a disaster-proof factor.
Who does Direct Routing apply to?
Any business. Any vertical industry, public or private sector. Remote working is now prevalent in pretty much every industry across the world, and by implementing Direct Routing with Microsoft Teams, you can enjoy the freedom to communicate and collaborate as flexibly as possible.
With WFH looking like it is here to stay, companies are going to need to continue equipping their workers with home office capabilities. According to Gartner, 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work as we emerge from COVID-19.
Direct Routing can become a valuable tool in equipping those home offices. Integrating Direct Routing into Microsoft Teams gives you a single, converged platform for voice and collaboration; you can extend your voice platform out across your global wide area network (WAN) or the Internet and have centralized control of it from your Office 365 dashboard or SIP Wizard. And your workers won’t even need costly desk phones on their desks.
If you would like to discuss the issues raised in this blog or for more information on Direct Routing, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Javier holds an MBA at Henley Business School (UK) and has more than 20 years’ experience in Unified Communications. He currently works as Sales Executive at Orange, where he maps the business requirements of the biggest multinationals to a service. An avid reader and former chess player, he enjoys hiking with his family the mountains of Picos de Europa in Spain and long distance running along the Thames River.