Nothing makes CFOs cringe more than risking a six-figure investment in technology with an unknown shelf life. Your business needs that call center or data network or ecommerce application just to keep up with the competition, but you don’t know when the next big leap in technology is coming that will make your software/hardware acquisition outdated or obsolete. And in a world where more and more systems are integrating third-party application software with their hardware (think salesforce.com CRM integration with your phone system), you’re dealing with yet another layer of complexity. Then there’s the constantly shifting BYOD phenomenon. Is your architecture flexible enough to accommodate the growing number of video, IM, and collaboration applications on your employees’ smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices?
One approach to mitigating technology risk is to simply shift it to the provider. Many businesses are choosing to forgo the investment in hardware, software and support infrastructure and, instead, outsource it to companies that specialize in providing a cloud-based infrastructure. Our firm manages that transition for many of our telecommunications clients, who shed most of their IT capital costs and instead expense their phone costs, per employee, on a monthly basis.
We also employ a variation on this model in those instances where the customer already has a significant investment in phones and software licenses. Our AltiGen Private Cloud offering allows them to keep the phones and licenses, but outsource the service for a monthly fee. With this approach, features are custom-configured to the customer’s needs, always upgraded to the latest software and system uptime is guaranteed through service level agreements. All this, and they never have to buy another phone server or network circuit.
For a variety of reasons, many businesses simply do not want to outsource a business-critical component of their IT infrastructure, and choose to go with a premise-based architecture. In some cases they, too, can mitigate the risk of that choice through creative leases. Our firm’s financing partner, TAMCO Financial, offers a unique program called ShoreTel FlexGuard for our ShoreTel customers. FlexGuard is designed to qualify for “off balance sheet” accounting treatment. If structured properly, FlexGuard can be considered an operating expense and the monthly payment can be treated as such. ShoreTel is so confident that their technology will always meet your business needs that FlexGuard includes a replacement guarantee. If another manufacturer develops a product that is larger than your ShoreTel system or delivers new feature/functionality and your current ShoreTel solution can no longer meet your needs, you can install a new system at any time without financial penalty and with no hidden costs. The ShoreTel Guarantee ensures that your current agreement will be forgiven and a new contract issued for the new solution.
These are just some of the ways we can help our customers hedge technology risk. How do you address it? Give us a call to discuss ways we can help your business.
Rick Morrison is an Owner and Managing Partner for CTI, based in Dallas, Texas.