In March our editorial focus is on industry challenges, controversies, and debates, so we thought it only fitting to offer professionals to share their front-line view of challenges that are impacting them or their clients. For AOTMP® members, we invite you to engage in the conversation further through our online member community.

Chip Shortage Impacts Smartphone Fulfillment

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Tony Castigliego is Senior Business Analyst at AXA XL

One of our challenges has been in the supply chain around chip shortages and their impact on our technology fulfillment with smartphones.

Our agents order through the technology expense management (TEM) order portal and they submit the order to their vendors. The vendors then come back and say they don’t have that model. This forces us to change the model ordered, which is typically more expensive than the company standard and involves more manual work with the changes of updating devices and inventory.

We do have a list of what to substitute but some situations become complicated. What we’ve been seeing is vendors are not updating their inventory and the model that is delivered after the order is complete is different from the one ordered. Some vendors, like the Swiss, had no iPhones one time; we had to look for an alternative supplier and order outside our vendors.

One strategy we implemented was buying in bulk. This is not desirable because phones will go missing if not secured and somebody local has to manage the inventory. In addition, the bulk order of phones is stored in the office. In most cases, the intended recipient is working from home requiring someone to work with the user to get them their phone.

Our offices are only open on a volunteer basis for those who wish to go. Employees are globally distributed, and this has created a bit of challenge and process issues with the shortage of the phones being out of stock or replaced with different phones. Collecting phones and getting them to a recycler is even more challenging.

The overall challenge is that inventory stock levels change so rapidly, and some are discontinued in some countries and not others. Recently, it has been a little bit better, but a month ago was worse.

PSTN Needs to be Addressed Sooner than Later

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Diane Smith is CEO & President of ChoiceTel

On the topic of decommissioning PTSN (public switched telephone network), this has been in the works for many years. This is not a new subject, but now that its deadline for completion is 2025, it’s starting to come down to the wire at this point, literally.

The infrastructure is deteriorating and now states and federal regulators are formally decommissioning under guidelines driven by both the FCC and the states. Now, we also have many of the providers and carriers giving deadlines of their own.

Recently, for example, we had situations with a client where Verizon refused to fix copper infrastructure and, as a result, the client moved to a new provider. We also have customers who are getting their lines converted to fiber, which is what they’ve wanted all along, but it wasn’t available. Getting things pushed through regulations and bodies has allowed customers to finally get this. Now the providers must offer another option and, in some ways, that’s a win for end users.

Retirement of the copper infrastructure has, in many cases, given customers a way to move to UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) and away from POTS lines that ride across copper. We’re active in helping clients choose the right strategy for their environment.

Two approaches for transition

We had one client who had traditional POTS lines and local PRI (primary rate interface) and instead of migrating to a SIP (session initiating protocol) architecture and using broadband, they’re going directly to a UCaaS. If their phone system is nearing its end of life, this allows them to make one transition instead of two. Another client has a larger footprint of locations and a user base with thousands of extensions. They’re not willing to move that fast. We’re setting a slower pace strategy where we’re moving to enterprise SIP trunking and slowly migrating to a Microsoft Teams environment. This on-site IP phone system hybrid environment will allow them to save money and do a slower migration while leveraging some alternative vendor providers for diversity.

Bottom line

I think in the end, moving from traditional PTSN is the right thing. It might be a little painful to move or they may not have had options before, but in the end, organizations will have faster and better technology to remain competitive in their perspective industries.

Photo of Shelly Sack

Shelly Sack

Shelly is Manager of Content programs at AOTMP®

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