From The Expert Feature Article
October 10, 2016

Schools and Municipalities Cut Costs During Budget Woes by Switching to UC

Budgeting issues, outdated systems, natural disasters—all are challenges that school systems and municipalities around the country face. Connecticut is no different. The recent budget crisis has left local schools and cities around the state without the needed funding to invest in new technologies, rendering them vulnerable to common emergency situations and adding costs.

And though natural disasters aren’t new, the east coast has been slammed with devastating storms in recent years. This activity has brought to light for Connecticut municipalities that their old models of communication are making them susceptible to full communications blackouts, isolating smaller institutions especially. Many public school systems, for instance, don’t have the needed staff to maintain outdated systems or support the number of devices a modern education system requires.

Seeing first hand that older legacy systems were no longer practical to support, Connecticut decision makers soon realized that upgrades would be necessary. These circumstances present managed services providers (MSPs) with an opportunity to provide needed support.

Digital Back Office, a Connecticut-based MSP and leader in cloud services, offered a two-step solution to local municipalities and public schools:

  • Deliver a private dedicated network
  • Provide a VoIP solution that is 100 percent cloud-based

For school systems looking to transition from legacy systems, these are two critical things to keep in mind.

A Reliable, Secure Connection

In order to provide the cloud-based VoIP solution, schools and municipalities needed a reliable and secure connection to support modern phone systems. Today, most schools are connected to a network. However, modern technologies are increasingly requiring higher connection speeds, something not all schools have access to. The State Educational Technology Directors Association recommends one gigabyte per 1000 users, but 21 million students don’t have access to networks that reach the minimum 100kbps per student goal.

MSPs have an opportunity to bridge this connectivity gap for the education system by working with them to expand access to high-speed fiber networks. This moves beyond providing the basic connection, as providers can look to reduce overhead costs and in turn make transitioning to VoIP a reality.

Providing the Right Solution

With legacy phone systems no longer practical to support, finding a solution that offers a smooth and cost-effective transition is critical. VoIP solutions are not all created equally, so schools and providers must consider their needs and look for a user-centric solution. After expanding access to the Connecticut Education Network’s fiber network, Digital Back Office partnered with Broadview Networks, a 100 percent cloud-based communications provider, to deliver the right solution at an affordable cost to schools and to help build out the dedicated circuits needed for VoIP, reducing overhead costs for end-users. When looking for a provider and solution, school leaders should consider the long term and seek partners that offer an intuitive solution that includes ongoing maintenance and upgrades, adding value to the investment.

Having a reliable connection and the right solution delivers key benefits and increases ROI. Using a unique, 100 percent-in-the-cloud solution offers end-users universal accessibility and increases productivity, which also alleviates pressures on understaffed IT departments who previously spent much of their time and effort managing legacy systems.

Additionally, here are two more reasons why adopting VoIP that is 100 percent cloud based positively impacts the education system from the bottom up:

1. Access to Basic Business Features

In addition to both direct and long term reductions in cost, the best cloud system places the control in the user’s hands, so the ideal solution is one that’s easy to use for non-IT customers, such as teachers. These solutions give teachers the ability to control their personal settings, making real-time changes from anywhere using a single, secure online portal that is a part of the provided solution. With cloud-based systems, users get direct and intuitive controls over the features and services that increase their own productivity. Everything is simple and instantaneous, and doesn’t require IT support—something critical to consider in choosing the right solution.

2. Disaster Avoidance and Emergency Situation Management

Schools are able to take advantage and route calls to other locations or cell phones in the event of a crisis, keeping communication open and helping avoid major disasters and manage school emergency situations. Cloud solutions give schools and its users control over when, where and how notifications in its emergency protocols are disseminated. A 100 percent cloud-based solution provides more security by encrypting calls and storing nothing on site to be stolen or hacked, and eliminates costly downtime and risks of on-site failures.

Technology changes rapidly, and schools around the nation have struggled to keep up, due mainly to budget concerns and a lack of resources. MSPs have an opportunity to provide much needed services to schools battling budget constraints and outdated communications systems. Investing in a cloud-based communication system can cut overhead costs, streamline communication and keep schools running during emergencies.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi