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Skype for Business & Office 365 Cloud PBX: A Voice and Phone Selection Guide

Polycom VVX 610 Touch Screen

Microsoft Skype for Business offers many organisations large and small with a simplified way to communicate and collaborate across their organisation. With new cloud services, available with Office 365, the cost savings is even more compelling, especially for small and medium sized business.

Many large enterprises are also replacing both their traditional and IP based PBXs with Skype for Business, with an eye on a future move to the cloud, as the list of cloud PBX features grows. Organisations are recognising that the most substantial savings come from eliminating expensive external conferencing services, for example, replacing their expensive per minute usage charged audio conferencing service can provide up to a 95% saving –  simple online calculators estimate the cost per year for WebEx at a 5,000-employee company could easily be over £2,000,000 per year. A 95% saving would see a reduction of around £1,900,000 – a huge cost saving in real figures, and that’s before the softer cost benefits of improved productivity, simplified operations and if moving to the cloud, the reduction in maintaining and upgrading on-premise equipment amongst more. 

Further savings can be achieved with office space reduction by introducing teleworking and reduced travel by enabling video collaboration. And while there are many financial reasons for moving to new services powered by Skype for Business, the way we work and how the modern workplace is evolving is also driving major changes across the business world.

The World of Unified Communications

We now live in a world of Unified Communications (UC). Employees are using multiple devices to communicate, and although a stand-alone phone is still very much needed, employees have a much wider range of options for communicating with customers, clients and colleagues.

IM/chat, video calls, phone calls, PC clients, mobile devices (BYOD) – the list goes on.  Unlike the PBX, where communications usually start with dialing a number from a telephone dialpad, real-time communications now often starts with an instant message (IM) – in fact, the last 2 years has seen Instant Messaging be the fastest growing communicate tool in the corporate world, with the likes of Slack, HipChat and Skype. But when you want to talk, you need to be able to place your call from a device that delivers the best audio experience. At the desktop, your phone. In the conference room or huddle room, a high-end conference phone or a professional video solution. For video calls from the desktop a PC with a webcam often lacks the high quality audio options required for professional communications. No matter how employees choose to connect across an organisation, user adoption is much more simple when there is a common user interface and seamless integration across business applications, email, phones and UC clients.

For Microsoft Skype for Business and Office 365, Polycom is now the leading choice for voice and audio solutions, which have been purposefully built to blend seamlessly with the Skype for Business experience.

Polycom Office 365 Integration Header

So Why Polycom for S4B/O365 Audio?

For almost 15 years, Polycom and Microsoft have worked in partnership to combine their collaborative solutions, ensuring proper integration and interoperability between these two leading platforms. In the past 3 years, we’ve seen a even richer relationship develop that demonstrates an ever strengthening bond between Microsoft’s Skype for Business/Office 365 strategy, and Polycom’s leadership in high-end audio and voice solutions.

Here are just a few examples of why we believe Polycom to be the audio solutions of choice for our customers utilising Skype for Business or Office 365. 

 

Use case Solution
Moving from PBX to UC with Microsoft Polycom + Microsoft together deliver ROI as high as 98% as organisations transition to UC (See Forrester Study)
Low cost USB/Bluetooth Speakerphone for working at home, office or shared office The Polycom VoxBox combines Polycoms HD Voice with USB connectivity & Bluetooth wireless pairing and can be combined with your Microsoft Desktop Client or MSR system for exceptional USB audio. 
Conference room phones for Microsoft The Polycom Trio Series – “Always On” conference phone that is qualified by Microsoft, directly integrates, & uses a Skype Interface
Advanced Features to enhance productivity Boss/Admin feature on VVX phones for admin assistants to screen a managers calls – Read “Polycom & Microsoft are changing the way we make phone calls
Touch Screen User Experience Colour touch screen phones & group conferencing solutions with a Skype User Interface – Read the 2016 S4B interface announcement here >> 
Superior quality audio with HD Voice Polycom HD Voice combining industry leading full duplex, echo cancellation and noise reduction
Innovations such as Acoustic Fence and NoiseBlock Polycom’s audio leadership is based upon strong research & development in audio innovations – Acoustic Fence actively listens and removes disruptive noise from the surroundings – (Wainhouse Research – Evaluation of Polycom’s Noise Reduction Features)
Unique professional Video & Voice Collaboration Technology for Meeting Rooms Native Microsoft integration with meeting room solutions such as the Group Series, Polycom CX Series and MSR (Microsoft Room) specifically designed for Skype for Business/Office 365. Plus EagleEye & audio solutions to enable efficient conferencing with Microsoft Surface Hub. 

 

Choosing the Right Desktop Phones

In 2011, Polycom released their range of VVX Business Media Phones, which have now become some of the most popular VoIP phones on the market today. Qualified under the Microsoft 3rd party interoperability programme, the VVX Phones have seen 7 major software releases with many Skype for Business features added over time, including:

  • Exchange Calendar Integration
  • Bluetooth Headset support
  • Boss/Admin
  • BToE (Better Together Over Ethernet – tight integration between the VVX phones and the S4B client, for example enabling the VVX phone to be used for audio input when in a Skype for Business desktop client call on a PC)
  • Voice and Video Mail
  • Skype presence and contact cards
  • Integrated call logging
  • Skype for Business touch screen interface on the VVX 500 and VVX 600 series devices.  

Polycom VVX Comparison Chart

Note: Those looking to integrate the VVX Phones with their Skype for Business environment will need to ensure that the correct VVX devices are chosen both in terms of the particular model (above), and also the specific Skype for Business edition, to ensure the features and ports required are available and supported.  Talk to our Polycom accredited team to find out more and to discuss your desktop phone requirements. 

 

Expanding Polycom Audio and Microsoft into the Meeting Room

Microsoft Skype for Business in the meeting room requires professional audio solutions to enable it to work efficiently. Whether you are implementing audio only devices, want to bring Skype video into the meeting room, or are implementing Polycom Trio 8800 with Skype for Business User InterfaceSurface Hub devices for training and collaboration, the correct Polycom devices need to be selected so that everyone can be picked up wherever they are located, and heard clearly and efficiently. 

The Polycom RealPresence Trio, selling over 65,000 units last year, is the popular replacement for the iconic “3 pronged” SoundStation seen in boardrooms around the world. As Polycom’s newest smart hub for group collaboration, it shares many of the same features found on the Polycom VVX series, and more, including:

  • Exchange Calendar integration – when you book your room, the RealPresence Trio is also invited to your Skype for business meeting
  • Meeting reminder from Exchange on the touch screen display in the room – and simply touch the reminder to connect
  • Microphone radius of 6m
  • Wireless pairing for your portable devices (BYOD)
  • Legendary Polycom sound innovations
  • Skype for Business User Interface 

Alongside the RealPresence Trio for Audio, the Polycom RealPresence Group Series can natively integrate with Microsoft Solutions, giving you access to not just the Polycom audio innovations but also best-in-class video collaboration in your meeting space too. We look at the specifics of Video Collaboration and Microsoft integration in many blogs across the website – take a look at our blog for more!

Why the RealPresence Group Series and not just the Surface Hub? Find out at our IGNITE Polycom and Microsoft Integration Day on the 8th March 2018 – find out about the event here. 

For more information on selecting audio or video devices for your Skype for Business Environment, or to visit the Polycom Experience Centre to see all of the Microsoft Voice solutions in action and to discuss your requirements, get in touch with our Polycom team today.

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