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Is your aging phone system a liability for your business?

Tech Trends · Oct 23, 2020

Some companies have been slow to migrate to newer technology, putting their business at risk. According to IDC Canada’s 2019 Business Communications survey, 61% of businesses are still using some form of a legacy landline system. If you’re a company with one of these aging phone systems—probably in a back room, out of sight and mind, collecting dust and cobwebs—you’re on the brink of failure at any moment. And, you might not even realise it.

With legacy phone systems, the lack of software updates and older parts that aren’t readily available, are major issues. The question isn’t will it fail, it’s when will it fail. When your system goes down (even for a few minutes) it isn’t just an inconvenience—it’s a threat to your business, and a costly one at that. According to Gartner research, the cost of one minute of system downtime can be as high as $5,600. And, when systems go down, it’s rarely for only a minute.

That old phone system that may not have crossed your mind in awhile, is easy to take for granted when it continues to function while collecting dust in the storage room. No matter what type of business you’re running—retail, construction, transportation, manufacturing, or even professional services like a law office—when it reaches end-of-life, you’ll feel the effects greatly.

Are your business phone systems end-of-support or end-of-life?

When legacy phone systems are on their way to being considered end-of-life, it can be for a couple of reasons: either it’s no longer for sale or it’s no longer supported. In either case, when this happens it’s a big risk to your business. If you’re on an end-of-support model—from a vendor such as Nortel (Avaya), Panasonic, Mitel, NEC, or Cisco—your system could go down at any moment. These manufacturers (or the provider who sold you the model) likely shared some migration options, but many businesses haven’t taken them seriously.


The system may still have support options, but it’s no longer for sale. And, parts may be hard to find—making it challenging to scale your business.


It’s synonymous with “end-of-life.”  Unfortunately, there continues to be confusion here as manufacturers sometimes use these terms interchangeably. Regardless, there are no longer software updates available so these systems are actually a business risk.  And there are no longer replacement parts available so your system may not function and you cannot grow or scale the system to add more locations and users.

In either case, the risk is high. When support or repairs are not possible, and a system fails, businesses could be out for days, weeks, or even months. When businesses have added different phone systems across their different sites (often from different vendors) every location is a potential risk.

7 ways your legacy phone systems could impact your business

1. Poor customer experience

If there are issues with reliability or audio quality on phone calls, your customer’s experience will be impacted. As all businesses know, customer experience is critical; if your system goes down and your customers can’t reach you, you risk brand reputation and customer churn.

84 percent of customers feel that experiences are as important as the actual products and services a company offers.

Source: 2019 research from

2. Slowed expansion

Legacy phone systems are slow and complex to install, so adding them to new business sites or new markets isn’t scalable. Too often, businesses are attempting to replicate (like for like) old systems and processes instead of evolving and improving as they grow.

3. Reduced employee productivity

If your phone system is unreliable, experiences downtime, or completely fails, your employees can’t do their jobs. Not only does this impact their performance and productivity, it impacts employee morale. While an old system may not make them leave, an updated, modern system may help you retain and attract the best talent available.

4. Increased security risks

End-of-support systems may leave you vulnerable, as they may no longer have support options, meaning you’re not only risking down time—you’re risking the safety of your operations. Many end-of-support systems have features with external access—including other integrated systems. However, the manufacturer likely isn’t creating any bug fixes or security patches so it could be a prime opportunity for hackers to access your private data. 

5. Inefficient operations

If you have IT staff that are maintaining and troubleshooting your systems, they’re likely wasting a lot of time and effort researching / educating themselves on your legacy phone system(s)—rather than finding better ways of delivering on new business opportunities.  If you only have a small group of centralized IT staff supporting a wide base of individual locations, especially with a diverse array of different systems, they are not only potentially ill equipped to provide the level of remote support necessary but can’t do it in a timely fashion. These systems may in effect be isolated islands onto themselves. 

6. Higher costs

As mentioned, the costs of down time on your business are not something you want to risk. In addition to the costs of system failures, the cost of replacement parts on out-of-date systems that are no longer being manufactured can be very high—both in terms of the actual cost of the parts, but also the time spent finding them. Spread this across multiple business locations, and the price tag can impact your business’ profit margins.

7. Lack of integration

In addition to being prone to failure, aging phone systems don’t integrate with other business systems the way newer technology does. This leads to slow, error prone, manual work that hampers productivity and perpetuates inefficiency with the business process while negatively impacting the customer experience.

The bottom line is, if you’re a business with an aging phone system the threat is real. If you don’t address it now, it can impact customers, employees, operations, and your business in many ways.

Benefits of moving to a Unified Communications system

Moving to a cloud phone system gives you peace of mind, knowing your system is reliable and always up-to-date. And, it also comes with a long list of additional benefits to your business, setting you up to grow, expand, and create an exceptional customer experience.

A cloud phone system, or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system, is a modern technology that lets you make phone calls over Local Area Networks (LANs) or the internet. VoIP allows users to make and receive calls using a broadband internet connection instead of a regular phone line.

In addition to giving you a reliable, modern phone connection, VoIP is part of Unified Communications (UC) technology. Put simply, UC delivers a single platform that supports all modes of communication—voice, video, collaboration, and instant messaging, on your computer, mobile device, or desk phone. 

The way customers interact with businesses (of all industries) is changing, and UC is addressing that demand.

Almost 3/4 of medium-sized Canadian businesses are actively considering, in the process of adopting, or have already adopted Unified Communication tools.

Source: IDC Canada’s Workplace Transformation Study 2019

By moving from a legacy system to a cloud-based UC system, you address all the issues of aging phone lines, while enjoying many other benefits, including:

  • Improves call quality and reliability: Phone calls offer a crisp, clear connection, with no down time.

  • Faster deployment: VoIP is easy-to-use and quick to install. Many VoIP phones are plug-and-play systems that cause minimal disruption to daily operations.

  • Improves operations: Systems include performance analytics of your system (e.g. how many calls by location, time, etc) to help you plan for growth.

  • Engages employees: Easily connect your team across branches or remote sites for simple collaboration; transferring calls and conference calls is seamless.

  • Automatic updates: Support updates with the latest features happen effortlessly, so your employees can focus on more important tasks.

  • Reduces costs: Solution is a utility model, meaning you can pay per user and can scale up or down as required. It also allows you to lower costs for long distance calls, since most calls are made over your internet connection.

  • Increases revenue: With a cloud solution, you’ll avoid busy signals and be able to handle more inbound calls to drive more revenue.

  • Integrated approach: Solution brings all your forms of communication (voice, video, email, and instant messaging) into one platform, allowing your employees to provide the best possible customer experience.

Fail-proof your phone systems: move to Unified Communications

As a business owner or manager, you simply can’t afford down time. You’re probably proactively strategizing in other areas of your business to ensure you don’t risk losing customers, employees, or revenue. Don’t let your aging phone system be the silent killer that creeps up on you when you least expect it. By investing in a Unified Communication solution, you’ll breath new life into your operations, while reaping many additional benefits and setting your business up for future growth and success.

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Contact TELUS Business today to talk to one of our experts, or learn more about cloud phone systems, which provide organizations with a clear upgrade path from traditional end-of-support phone systems.

Authored by:
Don Hyde