October 5, 2021

What IT Leaders Should Know About Microsoft’s Operator Connect

By Marcus Schmidt

Microsoft’s Operator Connect

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a new calling service for Microsoft Teams (Teams) users called Operator Connect. IT leaders justifiably want to know how Operator Connect is different from Microsoft’s existing PSTN calling options and its potential to impact 250 million monthly active Teams users.

The “Operator Connect” name might cause some decision-makers to scratch their head at unanswered questions. For example, what is Operator Connect and how will it impact businesses? What is an operator?

To answer those questions, Operator Connect is not a new product but rather an evolved version of Direct Routing. In essence, the tool is a carrier-managed service that gives businesses the option to bring their own “carrier” or “operator” to power Teams calling. Microsoft classifies “operators” as third-party PSTN carriers and has curated and vetted a list for customers to evaluate. With Operator Connect, businesses can enable PSTN calling with their carrier of choice within Teams, making it easier to set up calling and giving them more flexibility and control over their calling experiences.

How is Operator Connect different from Direct Routing? 

The primary distinction between Operator Connect and Direct Routing is the ease of setup, with Operator Connect being more convenient for customers to initiate calling with just a few clicks.

As noted above, Microsoft has selected several “operators” with deep telephony expertise as trusted Operator Connect providers. Unlike Direct Routing, users do not need to leave the platform to enable calling. Instead, after an admin enables Operator Connect, users can obtain and assign phone numbers and place calls via Teams.

Operator Connect is a great option for IT leaders looking to strengthen business communications. Outlined below are a few reasons why IT decision makers should implement the solution.

Telecom Enhancements

Operator Connect from Intrado delivers additional telecom enhancements to Teams such as advanced network configuration, app integrations with Intrado contact center solutions, and affordable scalability with its “pay-for-what-you-use” pricing model. These enhancements give IT teams ample options to choose to elevate enterprise communications in the ways that matter most to them.

Simpler PSTN Setup to Enhance Productivity 

As mentioned above, Operator Connect makes it easier for businesses to enable PSTN calling via Teams, with setup taking only minutes. Simpler setup means employees get access to carrier-grade calling and unique features more quickly. As a result, employees can be more productive and connect with customers and team members easier. Microsoft-approved vendors can also move customers from Direct Routing to Operator Connect so that the customers can seamlessly transition to the tool to access pure, cloud-managed solutions without experiencing downtime.

More Control to Optimize use of Teams

Direct Routing embraces a bring-your-own-carrier (BYOC) model. Operator Connect takes this to the next level by letting administrators select the telecom provider they want to work with and then manage business voice services directly from Teams. This control allows companies to truly customize and optimize the use of their Teams app so that it can be a multifaceted and flexible PBX system.

Companies can build the perfect communication system for their unique needs by utilizing features from Intrado and Microsoft. For example, companies can quickly provision phone numbers or gain access to call detail records (CDRs) and call quality dashboard (CQD) data. These capabilities and data can in turn aid in streamlined operations and better decision-making.

Return on IT Investments 

Operator Connect offers additional cost savings by merging telecom services with Teams. Because the setup is quick and easy, businesses see quick cost benefits associated with minimizing in-house support requirements. They can then reallocate savings to other IT or business investments. Further, the carrier they select can help the business secure additional cost savings by cutting ties with old providers and eliminating other hardware or unnecessary devices.

Carriers also manage PSTN calling services and session border controllers (SBCs) as a service. As a result, the user gains access to the carrier’s pricing, which is a cost savings to the company.

Built-in Support to Streamline IT Requirements

As discussed above, because carriers manage the telecom infrastructure, IT teams can focus on other tasks. Microsoft has vetted the operators and holds them accountable to provide quality service, robust security protocols, and accessible customer support. The operators are held to these high standards through shared service level agreements. IT teams can rest easy knowing the burden of technical assistance does not lie solely on their shoulders. With a lighter level of support needed for Teams, IT departments or individuals can streamline their workload and focus on other mission-critical tasks.

Transform Teams into a Hosted PBX With Operator Connect

Microsoft Operator Connect is a great solution for companies that want to access Microsoft’s UCaaS suite without being restricted by the Microsoft Business Phone system plans.

Operator Connect allows IT leaders to merge PSTN calling and collaboration into one sophisticated cloud-based PBX system, which was not previously available. The combination makes Teams more than just an internal productivity and collaboration app. Instead, it evolves Teams into a robust resource in a company’s external communications toolkit. Because Operator Connect is only in its infancy, its potential is only starting to be discovered.

Marcus Schmidt

Marcus Schmidt

Marcus Schmidt is the Vice President of Product Management with Intrado. In his 20+ years in VP and senior product management and marketing technology roles, he has experience creating connections with customers and partners, building channel and community programs, and leading successful cross-function teams, including strategic partners. Before joining Intrado in 2012, he worked at Infogroup and Microsoft.
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