Reliability is key – telecoms in the financial services

Fiona McLean-Banks, Polycom Business Development Manager at Zycko

No matter what industry sector an organisation falls into, telecommunications forms the vital backbone of the entire infrastructure,
and needs to be up and running at all times.

However, for the financial services sector reliability and durability are paramount, as communications, which often happen via a telecoms network, are mission critical to the success of the business.

While convergence of technology has brought about highly sophisticated systems that combine multiple functionalities, this technology is useless if it does not work. IP networks are more prone to fall over than traditional voice systems, which were built to be highly reliable. And when systems such as video go down, people will resort back to voice communications. Thus, it is imperative to have voice systems working optimally.

When systems go down, productivity grinds to a halt. For financial services, this can cause major problems, as trades need to happen in split seconds and business-to-business transactions may be time sensitive. It is therefore necessary to have failover backup technology in place to improve reliability.

Another issue to bear in mind is the quality of the build of the infrastructure, from the PBX to the handset to the cabling and so on. Bad voice quality makes understanding between parties difficult, especially when dealing multi-nationally with different accents and ways of speaking. This again affects productivity negatively by making it difficult for people to do their jobs adequately.

High Definition voice technology, built into the handset along with echo cancellation and clarity enhancers, enables greater clarity, even when the receiving party has standard definition voice, so that greater understanding can be achieved with minimal effort.

When it comes to investing in a voice communication system, not only does pricing need to be taken into consideration, but also total cost of ownership. Buying the cheapest equipment is not necessarily the best strategy, as this equipment may be more prone to failing and may in fact end up costing more in the long run than investing in best-of-breed technology;
not only in terms of maintenance and repairs but also in lost productivity and down time.

Any equipment should be able to integrate into the existing environment and infrastructure, be upgraded easily, and most importantly be based on open standards. This is of particular relevance to the financial services sector, where software is constantly changing and there are always new applications being developed. If equipment is not open standards based then integrating
new applications can be expensive and complicated and may necessitate a forklift upgrade, further adding to expenses.

Another benefit of open standards technology is the ability to incorporate XML browsing into the handsets. This enables information around trades, customers, and financial markets to be available right on the handset, which can make dealers and traders far more efficient and productive.

Telecommunications within the financial services sector is without a doubt moving towards an open standards model, especially in the EMEA region. This is as a result of SIP protocols, which have opened up the telecoms space for a multitude of applications and led the way towards true convergence. Data and voice have become truly converged and IP telephony has become more
reliable, stable and widely available.

Unified communications means that a person who is deskbound can have information delivered directly to the handset, with voice, video and colour touch screens that enable greater intuitive use and interactivity. These devices can incorporate presence management and click to call so dialling out is simple and getting hold of the right people at the right time is easier than ever. For contact centres in the financial sector, information such as stock prices and so on can be delivered to the handset while a trader or dealer is on the phone, greatly improving productivity.

Open standards and true unified communications have opened up a world of possibilities for financial services, allowing new uses for handsets and greater interactivity while enhancing reliability and ensuring that telecommunications are always up and running. SIP is the future of communications and we can expect to see major growth of this across sectors in years and months to come.