The quest for greater cost efficiency and productivity among businesses of all sizes has led to increasing interest in unified communications. To offload the burden and expense of deploying and supporting these new services, many companies are now willing to outsource these to service providers that offer managed services.
Cisco has one of the broadest array of unified communications solutions on the market, with many options designed to fit various types of customers, including those that wish to use their legacy telephony equipment or to incrementally move toward the latest IP technologies. Additionally, Cisco gives service providers the support necessary to design, deploy, and manage these solutions. Channel programs help service providers connect with Cisco partners to help boost sales penetration and wins. Special leasing programs are also available through Cisco Capital to help qualified service providers entering Greenfield markets reduce their risk as they explore new revenue opportunities.
This solution overview provides a high-level view of the growing market for managed unified communications services, factors driving service adoption by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprise companies, and a look at three primary Cisco® Unified Communications solutions that enable managed services: Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, IP PBX, and unified contact center.
By offering these managed services and other unified communications services, providers will have opportunities to:
• Address new markets where businesses are interested in unified communications but lack the expertise necessary and cannot justify the costs of deploying and supporting these services on their own
• Increase average revenue per user (ARPU) and customer retention by making new services available
• Differentiate managed unified communications service offerings from competitor services
• Reduce costs by using centralized IP resources and modular, multipurpose Cisco products and technologies
Market Drivers and Overview
In recent research, companies say they are drawn to managed and hosted unified communications services for a variety of reasons, including:
• Increased productivity: At a time when employees are asked to do more, with less resources, and end customers expect fast and expert service, customer service has emerged as a major area of competitive differentiation among certain types of companies. Reaching people at any time, anywhere through the phone, email, or the web can accelerate sales, business decisions, and other metrics that measure a company's productivity.
• Cost savings and operational efficiency: Lower telephony costs and simplified voice and messaging services contribute to a lower total cost of ownership of network resources and an affordable, predictable cost model with scheduled upgrades and enhancements. IT staff can shift their focus from unified communications services to core business-related functions, further increasing efficiency.
• Business resilience: By using the service provider's network, if any office becomes inaccessible or portions of the network go down, redundant data centers with customer data and configurations allow businesses utilizing managed services to continue operations, either from remote locations or through mobile devices.
According to a July 2007 Forrester Research study in North America and Europe, 80 percent of SMBs surveyed said they would be using VoIP via site-to-site WAN links by 2010 and 70 percent of enterprises said they would do so by 2013. And 75 percent of SMBs said they expected to deploy or migrate to an IP PBX by 2010 while 60 percent of enterprise businesses said they expected to do so by 2013.
A global 2008 study by Ovum found that among SMBs with 1000 employees or fewer, managed IP PBX services are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39 percent between 2006-2012. Hosted IP PBX solutions will experience a 36 percent CAGR during the same period. Enterprises are expected to turn to managed and hosted solutions in even greater numbers, with managed IP PBX services experiencing a 48 percent CAGR and hosted IP PBX growing at a 49 percent CAGR during those six years.
These findings clearly show that businesses of all sizes worldwide are interested in and planning to utilize unified communications. In many parts of the world, unified communications are already being implemented. However, in many cases unified communications services are being deployed without service providers handling issues such as interoperability and scalability. The burden of providing these support services is left to customer IT departments or non-IT personnel in SMBs.
With years of experience and proven products and technologies that enable data, voice, and video internetworking and convergence, Cisco has pioneered unified communications and created solutions and programs to help our service provider customers deploy and market them as lucrative managed services. These managed services include critical support features and can scale to accommodate changing requirements and future solutions.
Unlike standalone solutions and point products, Cisco Unified Communications solutions for managed and hosted services integrate voice, video, mobility, and data, adding structure and intelligence to nearly every aspect of business communications. Integrated applications include:
• Highly secure IP communications
• Unified messaging
• Video and rich-media conferencing
• Virtual contact centers that integrate databases and workflow applications with advanced contact center capabilities
Three Unified Communications service solutions from Cisco are among the most popular global offerings among businesses today: managed SIP trunking, managed IP PBX, and hosted unified contact center. They can also offer a strong foundation upon which customers may add additional managed services.
Managed SIP Trunking
Managed service providers can use their converged IP next-generation networks (IP NGNs) to provide converged IP access links to businesses that want the efficiencies of a converged IP communications solution for data and voice services extending beyond the LAN to the WAN and as a possible migration strategy from TDM-based PSTN voice solutions. The managed SIP trunking service provides a high-quality, affordable, dependable connection for converged data and voice services. The service minimizes the installation and configuration times when migrating from older TDM-based PSTN connections and makes possible a converged voice and data connection as a foundation for advanced business services across all business locations.
Traditional TDM-based PSTN access connections isolate voice from data and require both network and premises TDM equipment with complicated and time-consuming installation and configuration processes. Hybrid IP and TDM PBXs are inefficient and voice quality can be compromised when voice is converged from TDM to IP and back.
SIP is a peer-to-peer signaling protocol developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that integrates with the IP infrastructure to provide rich communications for a variety of media and device types. SIP can be used to set up individual voice or conference calls, collaboration and chat sessions, videoconferences, or instant messaging sessions between any number of SIP-enabled endpoints (including IP phones, PCs, laptops, PDAs, and cell phones).
The managed SIP trunking service enabled by Cisco is designed to be easier to install, configure, and maintain by the service provider than any other solution. In addition to the efficiencies resulting from less TDM hardware and complexity and the productivity gains from converged services and advanced IP communications applications, the Cisco solution for managed SIP trunking service accelerates installation and configuration times with streamlined and optimized installation and configuration tools.
As shown in Figure 1, the Cisco solution for managed SIP trunking services encompasses a variety of customer deployment options and products for different business sizes, including Cisco Unified Border Elements, Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, and Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for smaller deployments.
Figure 1. Managed SIP Trunking
By offering the managed SIP trunking service, service providers may see new revenue from offering services from an effective entry point into the VAR-managed IP communications market. Both the service provider and customer can benefit from the efficiencies of less TDM hardware to install, configure, and support and reduced customer installation and configuration times.
The managed SIP trunking service provides these benefits for service providers, VAR partners, and end customers:
For service providers:
• Adds a new revenue generating offering to service portfolios
• Opens a new business opportunity for service providers to work with VARs to sell the service to SMB or vertical market customers
• Simplifies trunking administration with a unified protocol (SIP)
• Makes advanced IP applications such as network call recording and presence services possible
• Makes possible high margins for installs with reduced configuration time
• Enables finders fees for new customers for service provider and monthly commission
• Does not interfere with VAR providing LAN services
For end customers:
• Enables the option for businesses that have IP PBXs to combine voice and data services on a SIP-based trunk instead of using PRI or other kinds of TDM links
• Lets customers of all sizes take advantage of advanced SIP-enabled applications
Managed IP PBX
The managed enterprise IP PBX solution from Cisco is based on the Cisco Unified Communications Manager, an IP PBX that can either be hosted and managed at the service provider data center or located on the customer premises and either managed by a VAR or by the customer while the service provider is responsible for the IP network connection (as shown in Figure 2).
While Cisco Unified Communications Manager is sized for enterprise customers, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express is specifically designed for SMBs.
By converging voice and data applications into a unified communications experience, this solution enables organizations to operate more productively and to differentiate themselves from competitors. The core services available with the managed IP PBX solution include local and long-distance calling; standard business calling features such as hold, call forward, and do not disturb; and voicemail. Advanced network routing features can also be added, such as abbreviated dialing between office locations, enhanced calling features using softphones, and value-add applications like unified messaging. With the introduction of PC-based softphone clients and integrated mobility, a service provider can extend business communications services beyond the boundaries of the office and desktop workspaces.
Key service features also include:
• Centralized network management
• On- and off-net voice transport
• Private dial plans per customer
• Site-to-site voice
• Cisco Unified Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST) backup for the branch office if the WAN is unavailable
• Additional service bundling opportunities
• IP VPN data connectivity
• Desktop support and management
• Unified Communications service extensions (such as IP conferencing and XML applications)
Hosted Contact Center
With hosted contact center services, when customers call in, they are instantly matched with the most appropriate contact center agent who has access to pertinent customer information. According to AMR Research, companies using virtual contact centers increase productivity by 15 percent and save an estimated one million dollars per 100 call center agents. In addition, annual agent turnover decreases, falling from 60 percent to only 5 percent.
By offering hosted contact center services, service providers may see new, high-margin revenue stream. Cisco Unified Contact Center Hosted solution allows service providers to host the contact center infrastructure and software - which can then be shared by multiple business customers - in a central office or data center. The hosted contact center solution features flexible deployment models, including support for subscribing business customers with IP infrastructures, TDM infrastructures, or a combination of the two.
The hosted contact center solution from Cisco also includes a suite of integrated services that can be introduced all at once or incrementally, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Different Services Available with a Managed and Hosted Cisco Unified Contact Center
• Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal (CVP) is a platform for voice and video self-service, allowing organizations to provide intelligent, personalized self-service over the phone and giving customers the tools to efficiently retrieve the information they need from the contact center
• Multi-tenant routing allows one or more Cisco Unified Communications Manager clusters to act as the platform for a large number of customers. Each customer has a unique dial plan, set of phone numbers, voicemail, and other resources. The managed service provider operates one call control network for all customers, enjoying significant economies of scale that can lead to lower capital and operational expenses and competitive prices to customers.
• Virtual call center routes inbound calls to contact center agents independent of their location, a service especially appealing to businesses with branch offices or home agents.
• Network routing with computer telephony integration enables companies to more effectively utilize their corporate resources by taking advantage of information collected from the Internet, carrier networks, automatic call distributors (ACDs), interactive voice response (IVR) systems, web servers, email servers, databases, and other applications.
• Network Interactive Voice Response (IVR) functionality is located in the network to provide information to callers or to collect information from callers before they speak with a live agent.
• Intelligent call routing allows calls to be routed between contact centers based on call context information (such as the number dialed and the caller ID), agent availability, and customer information from databases.
Managed services built on Cisco Unified Communications products and technologies accelerate time-to-market and revenue for service providers and support the full breadth of customer segments with diverse integrated service bundles. No other company offers the depth of features and applications available with Cisco Unified Communications solutions. Additionally, Cisco products accommodate multiple deployment options, such as partnering with VARs and system integrators, to reach customers more efficiently and effectively.
Beyond the solutions we offer, Cisco supports service provider customers through the entire lifecycle of a new service rollout with a go-to-market strategy encompassing three components:
• Envision: Content is available from Cisco to help service providers envision solution opportunities with their customers, including collateral, service creation playbooks, advisory services, case studies, and market intelligence.
• Build: The second step in a managed services engagement requires the design, planning, development, and testing of solutions. Cisco offers a set of solution toolkits to provide both an overview and an in-depth understanding of unified communications solutions.
• Market and sell: The final step in a managed services engagement involves the launch, marketing, and sales of solutions. The Cisco Powered Program, channel programs, commercial programs, and financing programs all help our managed services customers with these processes.
For More Information
For more information on Cisco managed services, contact your Cisco representative or visit:
Managed Unified Communications Services from Cisco