June 21, 2016
In 2012, Cisco acquired the cloud-based networking technology developer, Meraki. Since then, the technology has exploded in popularity with a customer base rising from 15,000 to now over 120,000 customers worldwide. Meraki achieved such success by delivering some much needed efficiency and convenience to the network administration team.
On May 24, 2016, Meraki expanded beyond the network into voice technology with the release of the MC74 Cloud Managed Phone. This phone, beyond being a capable IP phone for any enterprise, is a particular boon for the small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) market.
The Meraki MC74 and SMB Opportunities
Front and center in Meraki’s value to the industry is its connection to the cloud. Any business, large or small, using Meraki network equipment can access, manage, and interact with the switches or routers connected to the network, and they can do so from a single, centralized location. Whether one office in Chicago or ten across the Midwest, the entire network administration process can be completed from anywhere.
The same is true of the new Meraki phone, the MC74 Cloud Managed Phone. A cloud managed voice system has value for all sized businesses, but the SMB stands to reap some particular useful benefits.
- Single-Pane-of-Glass: Not only is the MC74 Cloud Managed Phone administered through a cloud portal accessible from any location, but this is the same portal that the team uses to manage any other Meraki networking hardware. Between voice and networking, Meraki helps streamline IT responsibilities by converging more of the environment into a single administration tool. No longer will the team need to navigate between separate, isolated interfaces to complete their work.
- No Hardware On-Prem: The company’s expensive PBX sever is instead replaced with a standard connection to the network. No matter how many phones the company acquires, there will be no physical hardware necessary on the back end to support voice communications. By switching to Meraki, SMBs can avoid the capital expense (CapEx) of refreshing the PBX server and the ongoing costs to maintain the system.
- Ease of Deployment: New phones are provisioned and configured from the cloud-based management portal in any web browser. Then, once the new phone is plugged in, it will automatically download its number profile in moments. Reduce time spent installing phones for new and existing employees.
- Ease of Use and Browser Access: The MC74 Cloud Managed Phone is designed to be as simple to use as possible, which eliminates the need for phone training from the IT department. Users can access their phone portal from anywhere and manage their contacts, browse call history, and listen to their voicemails from their preferred device. Furthermore, a browser extension can be installed to enable users to dial directly through their browser with a single click.
- Touch Screen Display: The phone itself is controlled through a 7” HD touch screen display designed to be as intuitive as possible. On Meraki’s website, they even promise a “Learning Curve: None.” Through the display, users can access all the standard, expected tools found in contemporary office phones, including contact directory, call history, visual voicemail, hold call, transfer call, speakerphone, and more.
Removing the Tedium of Voice and Network Administration with Meraki
IT departments of all sizes have to cope with the ongoing challenge of expanding capabilities and maintaining functionality. However, in the SMB market, the IT team is often only a handful of professionals. While capabilities and functionality are important to these smaller teams, the environment can quickly swell to sizes and complexities beyond their ability to manage. The true value of the Meraki MC74 Cloud Managed Phone has little to do with the actual phone itself. Meraki adds some much needed simplicity to the environment by removing the need for PBX servers in the data center and combining the administration interface with the rest of the Meraki suite. We expect SMB businesses will welcome the consolidation and efficiency that Meraki can offer.
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