Why Hosted VoIP for general business office use?
By Chris Palermo
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone systems have the upper hand over traditional phone systems on several fronts. Aside from centralizing the company’s communication systems onto a single, easy to manage web-based platform, the enterprise will enjoy the benefits of all the advanced features that come with the system. Hosted VoIP systems provide more flexibility, functionality and convenient access to information while maximizing user productivity and reducing costs.
Two approaches to implementing VoIP are available: in-house and hosted. Both tend to give you more when compared to traditional office telephone systems, but a hosted service is even more convenient, scalable and cost-effective. These factors, plus the low to zero on-net (inter-user and inter-location) calling costs gives the hosted VoIP service the advantage over in-house VoIP systems for general business needs.
Some of the key advantages of hosted VoIP over traditional office telephone systems are:
Deployment and Operating Costs
Traditional phone systems rely on having a physical Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system to handle call routing and other call operations. This is not the case when using a hosted VoIP service as all you would need are IP (internet protocol) phones for users and, perhaps, a voice gateway that will link to a router. The sophisticated PBX service and features are provided by the hosting service. You therefore save on the hardware and installation costs vs. physical on-site PBX system.
The operating costs are also significantly reduced. A hosted PBX VoIP service allows you to make local and long-distance calls for a minimal charge and some providers offer the option for unlimited monthly calling for no additional fee - it is included by paying a higher monthly subscription fee. Calls that utilize the system between an organization’s users and across locations are typically no charge.
While traditional business phone systems offer little convenience for individuals who are constantly on the move or for those telecommuting; all that’s needed with hosted VoIP is the IP phone and a good internet connection. Mobile staff will benefit from the convenience and flexibility, only having to access an internet connection to be able to work from anywhere around the world. They’ll have access to the company’s telephone system over the Internet, eliminating the need to have a separate phone system. And, with the added convenience of "soft phone" software, a mobile user can actually plug a headset into their laptop and use it as the "voice gateway" to make VoIP calls from their extension on the company's system.
Businesses can also relocate quite easily without having to worry about changing the phone service provider or changing telephone numbers if preferable. And as all operations occur and all data is hosted in the "cloud," (off-site via a robust and redundant, independently managed data center) it provides an effective contingency for disaster avoidance or recovery.
Advanced Feature Set
Hosted VoIP services are integrated with an advanced set of features that will benefit both small and large enterprises. These include powerful voicemail functions, automated attendants, caller ID, message notification, call waiting, audio conferencing, automated forwarding and transferring. The caller ID feature is especially useful in integrating with the firm’s CRM system, as the user is furnished with full information regarding the caller. Armed with such information, companies are better able to serve their customers based on the orders, preferences or needs of each individual. It's also important to understand that video chat and video conferencing are expected to become much more mainstream over the next several months. These capabilities are becoming inexpensive to deliver and the IP telephone manufacturers are beginning to deliver more affordable video-capable handsets.
Managing users is much simpler too – just logging in to the phone system's portal and making a few clicks here and there to add or delete users. It is also possible to track the calls made by them; an asset for improved staff productivity.
Overall, hosted VoIP can add more functionality while driving down the costs of acquiring and operating a business telephone phone system. Internet service providers are becoming more reliable, warding off worries of internet service failure on which the system depends. And, if there is an internet failure, calls are still received by the system and callers can still interact with it and leave messages as if everything is fully operational – no calls are lost.
Global Communication Networks has sourced, negotiated and project managed colocation and telecommunications projects all over the world. Should you have questions or need assistance on your next project please do not hesitate to contact me here, or via twitter at @SChrisPalermo.