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Operator Services for Microsoft Teams Calling

March 23, 2021

Tim Jalland, Solution Manager (Microsoft Teams), VOSS

Microsoft Teams continues to go from strength to strength, and it was good to see many enhancements announced at Ignite 2021: New features (particularly around improving the calling experience), new device endpoints (interestingly devices are now becoming more prominent in the solution), and importantly more choice around connecting Teams to voice telephony (called Operator Connect).

Operator Connect is intended to provide easy access to telephony services – providing facilities to select and connect with an operator (Service Provider) and get telephone numbers, all directly from within the Microsoft Teams Admin center.

It is a great option, but it raises the question as to how an operator can service this efficiently via the Operator Connect API – automation will be important to deliver a dynamic customer self-service experience and keep costs down but what else needs consideration?

Here are a few thoughts for the operator community:

  1. Automation to streamline the service – Multi-step workflows for provisioning
    At the heart of this are multi-step workflows that automate the provisioning process, hiding the underlying complexity in the process and reducing the need for manual touch-points – as the underlying components that make up the service (Direct Routing, SBCs, PSTN break-out) are configured in turn.
  2. Keeping control – with RBAC, audit logs and rollback
    Comprehensive access controls, data visibility and audit logs are vital to ensuring that the integration interface is secure and robust. Do not forget to ask about a rollback facility if a particular request goes astray and for detail in the transaction/audit log to track changes.
  3. Managing the number inventory
    The number inventory plays a key role, and workflows are required to manage and allocate numbers and configure the dial plan into the underlying service, along with possibly integrating with adjacent systems to initiate activities such as porting.
  4. Reporting and accurate charging of services consumed
    Whenever services are consumed, accurate information must be fed into reporting and billing, to track service usage and raise appropriate charges. This may be real-time notifications or overnight jobs to reconcile systems.
  5. Flexibility to configure and optimize for future requirements
    Planning for the future – all systems evolve and mature, and so too will the calling options in Microsoft Teams. Any solution must respond dynamically and without the need to revert to traditional software development and testing. Make sure that the system can be easily adapted and extended through system configuration.

I haven’t mentioned assurance, reporting and tracking against SLAs in the above in any detail as that is a separate but important topic – so don’t forget it!

Hopefully the above has also been helpful, Microsoft Teams Operator Connect officially launches in Q2 and so you have time to get started with your strategy and planning.

Please drop us a line with your thoughts and feedback.