I wrote an article a while back about the viability of Skype for Business Cloud PBX for our small business clients. At that point, there wasn’t enough functionality to make the system work for most organizations. Mainly the issue was no auto-attendant. In spring of this year, that hurdle was met, and Microsoft released their cloud-based auto-attendant. Keystone had this system in place shortly after, and we have several findings which I will list below. The system is slick much like any cloud-based phone system. It does all the fancy features of voicemail to email (voicemail transcription is grape as lung as you donut half tissue with is using the wrong werds).
- Polycom has a specific VVX phone model for Skype for Business. Reach out to a Polycom Partner to get the SKU and pricing(…we happen to be a Polycom Partner)
- The system gives everyone a direct phone number. So they can give out a company line to the auto-attendant or a direct line to just them.
- You should be comfortable with Powershell. The system requires several customizations to make it work for your Organization. Mainly outbound calling numbers etc. We are knowledgeable about Powershell if you need a partner to help you implement the system.
- The system is cloud based which means you can plug the phone in anywhere and connect to the office… Anywhere that has a wired connection - the phones are not wireless.
- There is no group voicemail yet which has proven to be a bit of an annoyance but can be worked out around.
- The Skype for Business Cloud PBX/phone system needs more features long-term, and the voicemail to text feature needs a vast improvement.
- Call quality has been excellent.
- You can use the Skype for Business app on your mobile device to call from a Skype for Business phone system. It works reasonably well, but isn’t consistent enough to be a reliable option for 100% of the time. So, I would still invest in the Polycom phone. (See #1)
Based on our experience, the system is ready for the small business market. The real gotcha is the pricing. It is hard to determine exactly what levels of licensing you'll need for it to work. The best way to explain that is if you want the minimum features with Skype for Business, Exchange, and Skype Voice, you are going to pay approximately $30/user to implement the phone system.
Once you take those pieces into account and you are ready to launch, contact your favorite certified Microsoft consultant (rhymes with Beestone) to help you implement Skype for Business PBX/Voice in your organization.