IP Telephony and UC:
Unified Communications: Going Beyond Business Phone Systems
A Better Way To Communicate
In 1996, ShoreTel's founder declared: "There's got to be a better way." After years of leading teams at high tech companies, he was confounded by the inefficiency of his office phone system and the complexity of replacing it with a new system. He saw how IP networking could replace traditional TDM voice switching and applied his deep understanding of distributed computing to a new vision: a streamlined alternative to the bloated, complex, resource-heavy IP business phone systems being marketed by legacy PBX and digital networking companies.
The result? A fundamentally different and brilliantly simple approach to system architecture that is resource friendly, scales easily and distributes call control across an array of solid-state phone appliances.
Popular with companies that value solid phone system performance and substantial bottom-line benefits, ShoreTel has grown into the world's leading provider of Brilliantly Simple IP communications solutions.
Since that original innovation nearly 20 years ago, ShoreTel has once again re-invented a better way to communicate and collaborate in business with ShoreTel Connect -- our common platform based on a single software code. Now one platform and user interface delivers business communications from the cloud, onsite or a hybrid combination. Now, whether you prefer to subscribe to a managed cloud service, invest in an onsite system, or deploy a combination of the two, there is a single UC solution that delivers the same outstanding features and user experience to the entire team.
Pioneering The Unified Communications Experience
Going beyond traditional PBX features like dial tone, extension dialing, directories, and call transfer, ShoreTel took advantage of the power of Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) to create a richer, more intuitive communications experience for customers. Using open architecture and APIs, ShoreTel became a leader in "UC" (unified communications) by integrating our IP PBX with popular applications like Microsoft Outlook to create desktop call control, quick dialing, visual voicemail, automatic conference scheduling, and phone meeting invitation wizards.
UC now means that ShoreTel customers can communicate how they want, when they want, and from wherever they are, simply and easily. The new ShoreTel Connect client is an intuitive communication and collaboration tool with a consistent user experice, which manages real-time communications on a computer or mobile phone, moving seamlessly between voice, video, and IM as needed.
Making UC Even Easier In The Cloud
ShoreTel continues to innovate. We work hard to design, integrate, and test our unified communications solutions, so that our customers don't have to and our products “just work.”
In 2012 we saw the direction the industry was going and what the needs of our customers would be. We were the first to recognize the need for one company to deliver hardware and software products for on-premises deployment as well as managed services in the cloud with ShoreTel Connect CLOUD. Now, every company from 5-5000 employees can deploy ShoreTel Connect, a premiere unified communications solution as a service for their employees, even companies with few technical resources, thanks to our state of the art data center and managed services.
No Better Value Than Unified Communications
If you're considering a new communications solution for your business, you'll want to put ShoreTel on your short list. No other UC vendor has our depth of history, experience, and success—our customer satisfaction has been the highest in the industry for years, and our total cost of ownership has been the lowest. "There's got to be a better way" than your current phone system—and it's ShoreTel.
Why is ShoreTel Unique?
See What We Mean By Brilliantly Simple
ShoreTel is a leading provider of cloud, onsite, and hybrid business telephony and unified communications (UC) solutions. Our award-winning, brilliantly simple communications solutions for small and mid-market companies consistently outperform the competition in customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, value, and lowest total cost of ownership. Our innovative business phones, application integration, collaboration tools, mobility, and contact center applications are highly reliable and empower organizations and employees to access information faster, collaborate more easily, and connect from any place, at any time, and on any device.
We believe your communications platform is the most critical application for your organization. We believe technology should enhance communications, making them transparent and natural.
Freedom of Choice
With our new single platform, ShoreTel Connect, you can select to deploy our award-winning IP phone system onsite, in the cloud managed in our state of the art data center, or a hybrid combination of both. Either way, ShoreTel’s solutions are designed to scale, grow, and evolve as needed. Buy or subscribe to the business communication solutions you need today, with no risk to your original investment should your needs change tomorrow.
ShoreTel End-to-end Integration
ShoreTel is the only "all-in-one" premium communications provider who delivers and integrates ShoreTel phones, the ShoreTel-owned network operations center, the ShoreTel Connect software and applications, and a world-class customer service center. And when your ShoreTel solution is integrated with your business critical applications, processes, and workflows (like ERP and CRM) you have faster access to corporate data, greater business insight and can fully leverage your investment.
Don't just take our word for it. Independent experts consistently give us high marks for our customer satisfaction, loyalty, and value; for the lowest TCO; and for our channel partner programs. We are proud that our solutions and world-class customer service consistently receive industry awards and accolades for performance and innovation.
No matter what you choose, simplicity is part of our DNA. Our customers tell us every day that ShoreTel solutions "just work" and that our solutions are often up and running in less than half a day. Since founding the company in 1996, our guiding principle has been to take the complexity out of communications, and make your phone something you will swear by (not at). ShoreTel Connect has a new collaboration user interface that works the same whatever type of softphone, computer or tablet you have and whether you are connecting with other employees or with your partners and customers outside the company. Designed to be intuitive users can easily escalate a conversation from IM to a call to an online meeting to a web desktop share with video.
Moving the Business Forward
ShoreTel Connect removes the barriers and complexity common with other providers' myriad platforms for cloud and premises solutions -- whether you are seeking to replace an old phone system, add new office sites or branches, upgrade to unified communications, or modernize your contact center. With fewer resources tied up in deploying troubleshooting, managing, and training around a phone system, your teams are freed to work on the real task at hand, moving the business forward.
ShoreTel’s modular architecture and N+1 redundancy gives your business the flexibility to deploy an IP telephony system in whatever configuration you desire. That means that your business can still operate normally, even if part of your network experiences an outage. That kind of security gives companies peace of mind.
ShoreTel was the first to see how IP networking could replace traditional TDM voice switching applying distributed computing as an alternative to complex, resource-heavy IP business phone systems. Recently, ShoreTel redefined business communications again with an innovative new platform called ShoreTel Connect. ShoreTel Connect is one platform built on a single software code base that allows companies the greatest flexibility in how they elect to design and deploy their business communications. Easily upgradeable and able to scale as your business grows, it can be deployed as an onsite system, in the cloud, or a hybrid combination of both. This gives organizations the upmost flexibility to find the communication solutions that meets their exact needs.
A Solution That Benefits Your Bottom Line
How you communicate matters to your business’ top and bottom lines. With ShoreTel solutions, your business has:
- Ramping speed, agility and performance
- Competitive advantage
- Flexibility, efficiency and productivity
- The ability to customize CAPEX/OPEX investments for your business
- Diverse ways to utilize the cloud
- Scalability and consistency across countries, offices
- Multimodal and natural communications
- Flexible solutions that meet the needs of multi-generational employees
- Intuitive, seamless communications across any device, from anywhere
- The ability to grow systems incrementally using what you have today
- Greater business intelligence for a more competitive edge
- Integration with the business applications, processes and workflows you use today
A Breakthrough In Business Communications
ShoreTel is proud to introduce ShoreTel Connect, a remarkable innovation in IP telephony and unified communications. The first of its kind, ShoreTel Connect is a platform built on a single software code base that means you can design your communications system any way you choose: as a managed service from the cloud, as a hardware system you manage yourself, or as a hybrid deployment where some locations and applications are managed in the cloud and others are managed onsite. You choose.
This flexibility means that you can also choose how you want to expense your communications system – as a monthly subscription operating cost where ShoreTel manages everything for you, or as a licensed product capital expense that you control and amortize over time. Because it is based on a single code base, adds, changes, and updates are simple and include complete parity of features across both types of deployment.
You decide when, if, and how to migrate to the cloud. And, whatever you decide today is completely adjustable to what you may need tomorrow. The investments you’ve made are protected.
And here’s the kicker. While ShoreTel Connect is certainly a huge advance for IT, it also provides a simple, natural way for employees, partners, and customers to engage and communicate, whether they are remote or in the office. ShoreTel Connect saves time, and takes the frustration out of engaging so people can focus on getting their work done and their ideas heard. And when integrated into other business applications, ShoreTel Connect makes it easier to share insights, be more productive and grow the business.
ShoreTel Connect provides an intuitive new collaboration experience that:
- Allows you to communicate according to your individual preferences
- Makes enterprise communications as easy to use as your personal ones
- Escalates your conversations from an IM, to a call, to an online meeting, to a web desktop share with or without video – with the single click of a button
- Enables you to collaborate as easily with groups outside your company as those inside
- Eliminates the need for plug-ins, complicated set-ups, and multiple application windows and passwords before you can get your work done
Cloud or Onsite?
Cloud Or Premises
In general, there are a few key questions to consider:
- The size and location of your IT staff and resources
- Your company's need to scale
- Where you want to put applications
- How you want to manage expenses – by subscription or by license
- How your employees can best work with each other and with partners and customers
- If you have any compliance or regulatory stipulations your company or industry must adhere to
Below are 8 questions that will help you decide the right path to take – to the cloud or onsite. If you find your answers are a little of both, then a hybrid solution may be the answer. Perhaps support some of your locations or serve some of your applications from the cloud and some from your onsite systems at headquarters. Whatever the way, ShoreTel Connect delivers you the utmost flexibility in how you elect to position your business as well as your people for success.
Choose the path that's right for you
Below are eight questions that will help you decide the right path to take - to the cloud or onsite, or some combination of each.
1. Do you focus on year 1 costs or a long-term TCO?
- Year 1 costs are lower with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)
- Save money on hardware investment
- Prefer annual subscription model
- 3+ year TCO typically favors on-premises
- Prefer perpetual license model
- Consulting costs similar with both Cloud and Onsite
2. What is the state of your IT resources?
- Fewer requirements for IT resources to implement
- Data and application moved offsite
- System administration needs are reduced
- Upgrades managed by ShoreTel
- Your IT team has more control
- Data and applications are local
- Systems administratered locally
- Upgrades are do-it-yourself
3. How complex are your phone system integrations?
- Limited in number
- Well defined and understood
- Typically static and one-way
- Many integrations to other applications
- Evolving and highly complex
- Typically dynamic and bi-directional
4. Does your organization have experience with Cloud?
- Other Cloud application(s) in place
- Cloud model is understood and accepted
- Executive support for UCaaS
- Limited Cloud application(s) in place
- CRM and ERP applications have been deployed on-site
- Cloud applications seen as a risk
5. How has your business managed application upgrades?
- Upgrades have been difficult
- Poorly defined processes
- Limited resources to manage upgrades
- Good history with upgrades
- Established upgrade process
- The right skills available at the right time
6. Does your business prefer packaged vs. custom solutions?
- Organization is ready to embrace standard applications
- Business prefers off the shelf applications
- Little customization required
- Applications tend to be more customized
- Business processes and solutions are unique
- Have aptitude and resource to sustain custom solution
7. Where do your employees work?
- Multiple locations and remote workers
- Require simple upgrade process
- Requires reliable and secure internet or private cloud connection
- Centralized with fewer locations
- Upgrades more localized
- High quality network and storage infrastructure already in place
8. How does your company manage expenses?
- Operating expense budget preferred
- Smaller financial impact in year 1
- Annual subscription preferred
- Capital expense budget preferred
- Larger financial impact in year 1
- Purchase of perpetual licenses
How Can We Help?
What Are You Trying To Do?
ShoreTel recognizes that no two businesses are exactly alike, and each has specific communication needs. That’s why we’ve created ShoreTel Connect, a highly flexible communication solution designed to fit and adapt to your organization – whether you have a start-up or large enterprise, whether you want to communicate with solutions you manage onsite or with services on a subscription bases managed by you entirely from the cloud – or something in-between.
Below are nine common scenarios you may be facing as you implement or expand your communications systems. For each of them, we’ve provided information that will help guide you in selecting the best approach for your business need.
Moving And Expanding
For growing organizations who want to add offices, support a remote workforce, or scale for seasonal business, having a reliable phone system that is easy to deploy, manage, and use -- whether it is onsite, in the cloud or a combination of both -- is a critical factor in differentiating your business and ensuring its success. ShoreTel provides flexible solutions designed to address the specific needs of companies in transition.
There are multiple ways you can choose to add offices. Depending on the IT resources you have to support new locations, whether you plan to make a capital investment to amortize new equipment over time, or you are looking for a monthly subscription service from the cloud, we have solutions to meet your needs. ShoreTel Connect ONSITE is ShoreTel's award-winning, premises-based Unified Communications solution. ShoreTel Connect CLOUD is our premiere, managed service hosted by our experienced team of cloud experts. ShoreTel Connect HYBRID combines service subscriptions from the cloud with the solid performance and control of an on-premises system deployment.
Remote and Mobile Work
If you have employees who work remotely or are often mobile, you need to ensure they have the same secure and reliable access to company information and systems as their office colleagues. The ShoreTel Connect mobility app enables businesses of all sizes to integrate their employees' favorite smartphones and tablets with the company's existing phone system, business applications, and processes, no matter where they are and with the simple touch of a single "Join" button.
Business needs change. How flexible is your phone system to manage? Our unique distributed architecture, N+1 redundancy, and virtualized services stack are behind ShoreTel's reputation for providing solutions that are easy to deploy and manage. ShoreTel system installations and upgrades take place in hours, not days. ShoreTel Connect Director helps system administrators perform adds, moves, and changes easily. And our softphones and devices are intuitive for your end-users to customize and use, meaning less time is needed for training. Whether you decide to manage the system onsite or let us manage it for you in our hosted cloud, you cut out time, complexity, and cost.
Update And Modernize
Communications usage is changing rapidly as consumer expectations, devices, and applications enter your workforce in the form of new generations of employees. How do you modernize while leveraging existing investments, integrate new solutions, decide when and how to move to the cloud, and future-proof your infrastructure in the face of flat budgets and IT resources? Let ShoreTel help you customize an approach for updating your communications that makes sense for your business and provides you peace of mind for the future.
Communications devices have evolved significantly from the days of TDM-supported business landline telephone systems. Smartphones, softphones, tablets, laptops, docks – even wearables are now endpoints of the modern communications system. Virtualization of unified communications onto network storage and servers means infrastructure is now being used more efficiently and updates can be managed at the speed of business through software upgrades. Hosted cloud environments like ShoreTel Connect CLOUD deliver state of the art service and responsiveness, transparently.
ShoreTel solutions have a reputation for being highly reliable and secure. They "just work" because they are designed, integrated, and tested for reliability before you get them onsite. With ShoreTel Connect ONSITE, our distributed, virtualized architecture and N+1 redundancy means that if ever a failure were to occur somewhere within your communications or network infrastructure, you would experience no disruption of service, no dropped calls. ShoreTel Connect CLOUD guarantees Service Level Agreements and 99.999% availability for 100% ease of mind. We are so proud of our Quality of Service and responsiveness that we post performance metrics for everyone to see on our Trust website.
We believe that any time you eliminate complexity in your communications system, you cut cost. Highly reliable hardware means fewer repairs and down times, which cuts costs. Engineering for better integration cuts costs. Software upgrades cuts costs. Single point of systems management cuts costs. Faster deployments cuts costs. Longer product life cycles cut costs. More intuitive interfaces mean employees need less training, which cuts costs. And we aren't the only ones who think so. Industry analysts consistently rate ShoreTel as lowest in Total Cost of Ownership.
Your communications platform decision is arguably the single most important decision you can make for your company’s top and bottom lines. That’s because it’s much more than the phone system. How you integrate communications with the other business applications and processes you have in your business – from CRM to ERP to Contact Centers to HR – can mean better collaboration and workflows, as well as faster time to information for your employees. It can deliver greater business insights to the company, helping you to differentiate, expand globally, appear bigger than you are against competitors, and foresee changing market opportunities. Of course, it also has impact beyond your own doors making it easier for your customers and your partners to do business with you.
Great Customer Experiences
Your customers are your company's life blood. They expect communications that work reliably and are easy to use. You can build customer loyalty and brand trust by responding quickly to their inquiries and having a record of previous interactions. With ShoreTel's Connect Contact Center solution, organizations can easily connect internal and external customers to the right agent at the right time and track all points of customer contact, automatically. This results in faster resolution times as well as improved customer satisfaction and lowered costs.
Integrating third-party ERP, CRM and HR apps with a VoIP phone system, whether in the cloud or on-premises can greatly empower a company. Your teams and your partners expect a consumer-like experience in which their business applications and processes work the way their personal and social lives do, so they can easily collaborate and be more productive. And, by integrating business communications with key data from Salesforce.com, NetSuite, or BullHorn, organizations can transform their business telephone systems into opportunities that leverage their most valuable assets: people and information.
ShoreTel has developed an ecosystem of more than 80 Innovation Partners who leverage and extend our communications platform with applets, add-on features, and functionality that they develop using our library of open APIs and Software Developer Kits. Our Advanced Applications group has developed custom solutions for customers and our Technology Alliance has partnered with companies such as VMWare to enable virtualization of our UC platform and with HP to ensure tight integration with other network components in the infrastructure.
Personal UC is Now:
The Workplace Is No Longer A Place
The workplace is anywhere workers happen to be, and wherever their ideas may take them. And ShoreTel is at the heart of this new reality. As a world-leading provider of Unified Communications (UC) solutions, we’re pioneering business without boundaries by making communications and collaboration a natural extension of how people think and act. Thanks to ShoreTel Connect, our user-focused technology provides numerous benefits:
- Individuals can focus on relationships, ideas and growth, rather than getting the technology to work
- Integrated access to your business data delivers greater insight rganizations can achieve new levels of customer engagement, efficiency and productivity
- Innovation can now flow far beyond the traditional notions of time and place
Our philosophy and practice of putting people first is reshaping the relationship between workers and their work, and companies with their customers. Resulting in a world where all four generations in the workforce—regardless of their location, communication style, or device — can engage and interact on their terms, on their time.
It's a brilliantly simple idea. We call it Personal UC. And it’s changing everything.