Microsoft Business Voice- Should you look at an integration?
It goes without saying that Microsoft provide a comprehensive product offering from email and calendaring to security and collaboration, and the Microsoft Teams product is a market leader in the latter, with impressive presence and chat features. However, to be considered a complete Unified Communications platform, it’s imperative to have a business grade voice/ telephony product with robust support.
Microsoft’s telephony solution, Business Voice does have its place in the market, however without the pedigree that its competitors have in the voice space would it be better to consider an integration to provide the telephony element. Below we look at some of the factors that point towards the advantages of integrating a third-party voice platform to boost the Microsoft experience.
First off, let's consider the package offered by Business Voice and how it stacks up against its competition.
Business Voice includes 1200 domestic minutes per user per month (optional upgrade to include 600 international minutes) which is rather low compared to its competitors. For example, the LogMeIn product offering GoToConnect has 2500 minutes of talk time included for domestic and international calling.
It’s also worth noting Audio Conferencing is included in the Business Voice package, which allows up to 250 participants into a call, which is similar to other UCaaS offerings. Click here to see more about BV calling plans.
Currently Business Voice with calling plan is only available in the UK, North America and Canada. This therefore makes it hard for a company looking for a truly global telephony solution to deploy Business Voice. It’s not uncommon amongst the leading UCaaS vendors such as Ring Central to have presence and local dialling numbers in up to 50 countries, making them a much stronger global proposition.
That being said, there is the costly option to set up Business Voice in up to 70 additional countries without the calling plan, however this requires work to configure direct routing between Microsoft and the on-premise telephony hardware. For more info on this and the list of countries click here.
Business Voice is currently only included as standard in the top end license plan- M365 E5 which is £48 per user per month. Business Voice can be added to other eligible plans (£12 with calling plan or £9 without) however this is limited to 300 users within an organisation. Anything above this amount and you would have to invest in the M365 E5 license. Factor in another £9 for international calling (600 minutes) and the price does stack up.
In contrast to this, other providers have one license cost inclusive of domestic and international minutes, ranging from £12-£17 a user per month depending on vendor.
Without the rich heritage that its competitors have within telephony, Business Voice is lacking in some features. Most notably is a call recording function, which is a fairly standard feature of a hosted phone system. Secondly and even more important is CRM integrations- currently Business Voice only really integrates with Dynamics 365 whereas other UCaaS providers have a much wider integration portfolio. 8x8 for example, currently have CRM integrations with over 12 platforms including D365, Salesforce and HubSpot.
From a numbers point of view, Business Voice has a smaller feature set compared to the 100+ you find with providers such as Dialpad and LogMeIn. Of course, the Business Voice roadmap looks to address this shortcoming however like any roadmap, timelines are uncertain. Click here to see the BV feature list.
Other things to consider.
Another key thing to consider is the resiliency an integration will give to your business. If invested in Microsoft Business Voice and there is downtime in the Microsoft service, you will lose all means of communication unless of course you have some legacy equipment running in the background.
Whereas with an integration, a downtime on the Microsoft side will not wipe out all communication channels. You will still be able to use the telephony solution provided by the integration, giving you a means of backup and a way to communicate if there is a drop in the Microsoft service.
In summary, Microsoft Business Voice is a valid telephony solution for Teams enabled customers, however with the added backup, feature set and package offered by an integration and considering the competitive price point, we strongly believe customers should at least consider a supporting vendor solution when looking to combine their Teams collaboration and voice platform.
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