Gareth Johns Interview: How UK Local Authorities Get More Out of Microsoft Teams

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RingCentral UK conducted a local public sector survey in August 2020 which found that 77% of respondents say they use Microsoft Teams at work every day. Despite its popularity, Microsoft Teams still lacks a critical feature for UK public services: enterprise-grade telephony. 

In this interview Gareth Johns, RingCentral’s UK Public Sector Industry Principal, answers the most frequently asked questions about Microsoft Teams Direct Routing as it relates to cloud telephony functionality. 

Gareth Johns Interview: How UK Local Authorities Get More Out of Microsoft Teams-309

Why has Microsoft Teams been so widely adopted by the UK public sector? 

For most public sector organisations, Microsoft Office is the business application of choice and for those on a transformation journey to the cloud, specifically Office 365.  At present, with the current working from home situation due to COVID-19, it’s safe to assume that most knowledge workers in the UK are working from home. Microsoft Teams, positioned as part of an Office 365 subscription, came as a saviour in a time of crisis. It helped many organisations pivot to remote working overnight. 

What misconceptions do you think exist about Microsoft Teams? 

It’s sometimes thought of as a one-stop-shop for all your collaboration needs; it’s not widely known that Teams is not all-encompassing. There are some limitations with its voice capabilities and voice is a key component of any communications strategy.

Microsoft’s brand credibility also sheds an inaccurate light on their abilities in the UCaaS space. We tend to forget that whilst they’ve had on-premises solutions, Microsoft is a very new player in the cloud collaboration game (less than three years’ experience!) and does not yet offer the industry’s best in class, tried and tested application. While the product is evolving rapidly, there are gaps in the offering, most notably the voice platform; the administrator user experience, ease of access to detailed analytics, calling plan coverage is limited to 12 countries, and guaranteed uptime SLAs.

What is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing? 

RingCentral Cloud PBX for Microsoft Teams (RingCentral’s Direct Routing solution) is a fully managed, enterprise-grade solution that connects your Teams and Office 365 deployment to PSTN networks, allowing users to make and receive external phone calls from anywhere on any device running natively in the Teams application. 

Local councils, schools and governments can use Direct Routing solutions to connect Microsoft Teams to their PSTN services. This allows organisations who have already adopted Microsoft Teams to connect their call functions (including voicemails and call routing) with their Teams messaging & meeting functions natively, making all communications more seamless. 

Direct Routing delivers all the features you would expect from an enterprise-grade phone system but saves you time and money by removing the need to install and maintain an on-premises phone system and the reliance on expensive Microsoft calling plans. 

Watch the demo: Call listen, whisper and barge into a Microsoft Teams call using RingCentral

Why is this the preferred option rather than a Microsoft calling plan? 

The biggest reason is cost effectiveness. Local authorities are taking every measure to ease budget pressures and optimise their balance sheets. Microsoft Teams calling plans can be very expensive and thus, almost all public sector organisations are looking for other options for phone functionality. 

Secondly, Direct Routing can deliver better resilience and quality, which you can keep track of through robust analytics. Third, industry-leading providers include pre-built business app integrations to provide a more efficient user experience and workflow. RingCentral, for example, has a vast library of pre-built integrations along with open APIs that allow you to build custom integrations. Finally, quality cloud PBX providers operate on rapid innovation cycles, giving you constant best-in-class as a standard part of your package.

Why is RingCentral Cloud PBX for Microsoft Teams better than other direct routing options? 

RingCentral is a worldwide recognised UCaaS leader:

and the list goes on. If you choose RingCentral, you can rest assured your choice has been vetted by many industry experts as well as being listed on the government’s digital marketplace.

RingCentral also offers local UK data residency for telephony features on demand for those who need it. We deliver the industry’s highest standard for uptime SLA as well: financially backed carrier-grade 99.999% availability. 

In the event of a Teams outage, users can access the native RingCentral application and still make and receive calls. Ensuring continuity of business operations and serving the public.

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It’s worth pointing out that RingCentral has true cloud telephony expertise – we’ve been developing leading cloud telephony technology for 20+ years and been recognised as a leader for even longer than Microsoft. We’ve invested more in our cloud telephony features than most other cloud providers in the market today, consistently. 

Besides this, it’s the reasons I mentioned previously: the vast library of pre-built integrations along with open APIs to build your own, the advanced analytics and the rapid innovation cycles.

Watch the demo: CRM and MS Teams with RingCentral

What kind of a Microsoft licence do I need for direct routing? 

There are a few things that all organisations must have:

  • A Microsoft Office 365 enterprise subscription either through an E1, E3, or E5 licence
  • A phone system licence, which can be added to either the E1 or E3 licence (included within E5)

Gareth Johns Interview: How UK Local Authorities Get More Out of Microsoft Teams-144 What does all this mean in terms of tangible benefits for public sector organisations?

In summary, local authorities looking to optimise their Office 365 investment by adopting Microsoft Teams can use RingCentral Cloud PBX for Microsoft Teams to facilitate the enterprise-grade phone system their employees and citizens expect.

In using RingCentral Cloud PBX for Microsoft Teams, organisations save time and money by getting all of the benefits of a robust enterprise cloud phone system that integrates with Teams without the hassle of managing communications infrastructure; all without requiring you to change your users’ Teams experience.

Only RingCentral gives you the quality and reliability of voice calls you need, wrapped up in the Microsoft Teams user experience.

Originally published Oct 15, 2020, updated Jul 13, 2021


    Ashima Bhatt is the Director of Product Marketing for RingCentral’s core Message, Video, Phone product offering. She uses RingCentral as a platform to share with the world how to connect people in meaningful and compelling ways to build forward.

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