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Extend the functionality of Microsoft Teams through Direct Routing with Telviva

When the Covid lockdowns hit, organisations were pushed into using whatever video conferencing tools were available in order to enable staff to work remotely. However, as time passed by, they realised that while these tools helped them at that point in time, they lacked some of the crucial functionalities that office workers were looking for.

Enter Microsoft Teams – a unified communications (UC) platform that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and application integration in order to enable real-time collaboration and communication. And, perfect for the majority of organisations that are already entrenched within the Microsoft ecosystem.

However, even here there are limitations – not every engagement needs to be a video call and with just Microsoft Teams, businesses are restricted to this unified communications environment and can’t reach out to the wider world through inbound or outbound voice calling. In addition, not every employee within an organisation might need to have Microsoft Teams – often UC functionality is used by knowledge workers, while transactional workers can make do with a voice extension. 

This is also the case when reaching out to potential customers or clients – you don’t know what technology or platforms they use, and a simple voice call does not require them to have to download any particular app, have specific software installed on their device or even have to worry about data usage.

Need for regular voice calls

To overcome this, organisations can turn to the Microsoft Phone System, which enables them to replace their existing on-premises PBX system with a set of features that are delivered from M365 and is tightly integrated into their cloud experience. Phone System comes included for users with a M365 E5 subscription and carries an extra licensing cost should users be on lower subscription options. Phone System users are allocated phone numbers (DIDs) to enable inbound calls, with caller line identification (CLI) active so that they can know who is calling.

Once that is done, there are two ways in which organisations can get started. One is through using Microsoft Calling plans, while the other is Direct Routing. Calling Plans are straightforward and are exactly what they sound like – users get a certain number of minutes for a fixed fee. They may be simple, but they have their disadvantages: it’s not the best solution for large organisations as it has a limited ability to support more complex requirements, such as multinational offices, contact centres and regulatory compliant call recording, among others. And, Calling Plans are not available in South Africa.

Currently, the only option for South African organisations is to turn to Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams, which is used to connect the Microsoft Phone System to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). This method is also far more flexible than using Calling Plans as organisations can work with their preferred telco provider and have the service tailored to suit their business needs, rather than ending up paying for minutes that they don’t use.

Getting full PBX functionality

For example, Telviva offers a Microsoft certified multi-tenant session border controller (SBC) for organisations to connect their Microsoft Phone System to the broader public telephony network. This gives users full PBX functionality, such as audio conferencing, being able to hold, transfer, or park calls, call external numbers and call colleagues using extension numbers (even those who don’t have MS Teams). Users can also see their call history, if they have any missed calls, and if any voicemails have been left for them. 

For the organisations themselves, they can get access to detailed reporting as well as expense management tools to better manage their communications costs. Even better, they stand to benefit from Telviva’s zero-rated on-network call community, which includes all calls to any customer on Telviva including other MS365 tenants who are connected to the Telviva network.

As mentioned previously, using Direct Routing has tremendous advantages, especially when it comes to call recording. While pressing the record button on MS Teams is easy, these recordings are not necessarily stored in ways that comply with privacy laws, as well as regulations that stipulate how long businesses need to hold certain records for. It is far more cost-effective for compliant call recording to be done on the SIP trunk side, using a service such as Call Cabinet, rather than having to later access the call data from Microsoft via MS Graph.

Direct Routing with Telviva

However, industry research shows that only a small fraction of organisations out there have taken up the option to enable telephony within Microsoft Teams, even though some of them might be using M365 E5 subscriptions that already include Microsoft Phone System – all they need is a Direct Routing provider. 

Why is this the case? One of the answers could lie in a lack of awareness. Organisations work with multiple cloud solution providers (CSPs), each of whom have differing specialities and it is possible that the ones they work with don’t have Microsoft Teams speciality and therefore will not bring up the issue. This means that these organisations are missing out on a whole host of benefits as mentioned above.

To address this, Telviva provides a guide on the client-side configuration to assist an organisation’s Microsoft integration partner in setting up Direct Routing to the Telviva Teams service. Is your business looking to get the full benefit of bringing together Microsoft Teams with your PBX system? Contact us today.

By Rob Lith, Chief Commercial Officer, and Clara Wicht, Senior Product and Marketing Manager at Telviva.

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