For many business owners, phone systems are more than just another utility. They're literally the backbone of an organization in more ways than one. Phone systems are productivity enablers - they allow people to communicate and collaborate with one another in real-time. They allow you to establish, preserve and strengthen those essential relationships between your organization and your customers and so much more.
Landline phones, however, have a wide range of disadvantages that far too many people have written off as a "cost of doing business" until now.
Landline phones are incredibly fragile - all it takes is one modest local storm to send your communications offline. They're also expensive - upgrading technology, moving or expanding your operations requires a significant infrastructure investment by way of adding new handsets and new private lines. If employees need to work remotely but still call into that big meeting this afternoon, they'd better hope they have access to a landline or they're going to be out of luck.
Thankfully, there IS a better way. Many small and medium-sized organizations are turning to VoIP technology for a wide range of different reasons that are more than worth exploring.
What is VoIP?
Short for "voice over Internet protocol," VoIP is a technology that works by converting sound into digital voice communication. Instead of sending and receiving calls over a more "traditional" landline telephone infrastructure, that information is instead sent over an active Internet connection.
The way that voice data travels over the Internet in this situation is virtually indistinguishable from any other type of data, with e-mail being one of the more prominent examples. Despite this, you have a wider range of options regarding who you can actually call at any one time. You can make computer-to-computer calls, you can call a cell phone, or call a landline like you could in a traditional setup.
The Benefits of VoIP: Immediate Cost Savings
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of VoIP for small and medium-sized businesses in particular has to do with the instant cost savings. Instead of being forced to segregate cabling in a business for Internet and landline telephones, everything is essentially condensed onto one network. VoIP sends voice data over an active Internet connection, so no additional wiring is required. So long as your business has Internet service, it can have an entire VoIP infrastructure up and running with minimal effort.
Because VoIP uses the Internet for data transmission, the service itself is also far more cost-efficient to use in the long-term. A business no longer has to worry about making expensive long-distance calls to customers all over the country and indeed, the users themselves can make low-cost calls from any place that offers Wi-Fi from any device. Whether you're in the office or at a hotel or waiting for your flight in an airport no longer matters as the same service travels with you wherever you go.
Scalability and Flexibility
Because VoIP operates primarily on software instead of hardware, the system is also incredibly scalable for those who need it the most. Adding support for new users as your business continues to grow and evolve is practically effortless and requires little to no advanced technical knowledge. Though you can and probably will purchase handsets for those users, all you really need is a computer (with an Internet connection) and a microphone. Most computers purchased today already have these components built-in.
To that end, VoIP is clearly the superior choice for organizations looking to minimize costs while maximizing functionality in one fell swoop.
Portability + Reliability = Collaboration
Another one of the most significant benefits of VoIP is one of portability - you finally have voice communication services that travel with you wherever you go. You can log into your VoIP provider from any device with an active Internet connection at any time, no exceptions. Whether an employee is on-site, traveling, or is working remotely, it doesn't matter. The same service is available in the same way.
Thanks to the fact that VoIP also allows users to attach documents, conduct virtual meetings or even engage in data-via-video conferencing, it actually allows employees to be more productive than ever before. You and your team can take collaboration beyond a simple phone call and can instead create an environment where people can multi-task without interruption. These options allow all employees to work, communicate and collaborate with one another in the ways they feel they need to to deliver the best results and drive long-term business objectives.
VoIP systems are also incredibly reliable thanks to the fact that they use the Internet for communication and data transmission purposes. If a massive storm hits your area and takes landline phone services offline, you can still send and receive calls. If you lose power to your office, you can still access the same VoIP services from your smartphone or tablet via its cellular network. Productivity is no longer hindered by these types of events, likely for the first time.
In the End
In the best of circumstances, technology is a tool that is supposed to help make the lives of you, your employees and ultimately your customers, easier. Choosing the right technology for your business is about working "smarter, not harder." For this to work, it needs to be reliable, cost effective and it must actually make it easier for your employees to be more productive.
Thanks to the way VoIP technology operates, making the switch from landline phones gives you the ability to do exactly that. The cost savings and productivity benefits alone are worth the investment, to say nothing of how easy it is to upgrade technology, move your operations or expand your infrastructure with relative ease. In many ways, VoIP is about more than just communications. It's a productivity and innovation enabler, allowing your business to meet the demands of today while preparing for the challenges of tomorrow at the same time.
Author: Amy Humphreys