Technology is evolving at lightning speed and one of the factors that tends to make users hesitant are the terms used to describe it. Certain terminology can make IT products and solutions seem a lot more complicated than they really are. This is opposite of the purpose of technology, it’s supposed to make your life easier in the first place.
Understanding the differences between concepts like VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) is incredibly important. Learning about these differences can help you see how each one fits within the context of your business. This insight shows how these technological advances can increase your employee’s productivity and company’s profitability.
What is VoIP?
Short for "Voice over Internet Protocol," VoIP services probably don't seem too different from traditional telephone services at first glance. The underlying technology, however, couldn't be more diverse or useful.
With a traditional phone setup, all calls are handled over landline telephone wires installed across the country. When you pick up the phone to dial a client, voice is transmitted back and forth over the lines. With VoIP, however, those same analog audio signals are transformed into digital data packets that are transmitted over the Internet. Talking on a VoIP phone is as simple as sending an email or checking your favorite website for updates.
The major benefit of this for businesses is that you're bypassing a telephone company - and all of its associated charges. A landline phone system typically costs businesses an average of $50 per line each month, and that rate only includes local and sometimes domestic calling. Monthly VoIP plans are available at under $25 dollars per line – a 50 percent savings over a POTS (plain old telephone service) line. From a broader perspective, the benefits of VoIP include an almost immediate cost reduction due to pooling of lines and lower transmission costs, plus you eliminate long distance costs.
Another benefit of VoIP is that it enables working from many locations. At least 37% of employees telecommute part-time. When voice data is being transmitted over the Internet, you can also access business calls in new and meaningful ways that better support the way you like to work. You don't have to be at your desk phone by 9:00AM on Monday morning to answer that call from a client. With VoIP, you can use the same number to make that business call from your smartphone or even your tablet. You also don't actually have to call from a telephone at all - you can make computer-to-computer calls and so much more.
What Are Unified Communications?
"Unified Communications" is a business term that actually describes something much larger than VoIP on its own. Commonly referred to as UC, Unified Communications are an infrastructure where ALL of your business communication services are integrated with one another. This includes VoIP, but it also extends to other services like video conferencing, desktop sharing, integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS, fax and more, which latch onto VoIP to become more efficient.
In conclusion, VoIP services are actually a part of Unified Communications, but they're just one of many. It's important to understand that UC isn't a term describing any one particular product, but rather many at the same time - all of which are intended to change the way that you communicate and collaborate with those around you. That ultimately gives you the most important benefit of all: a single, consistent experience across multiple devices and communication channels every time.
Author: Amy Humphreys
Comtel Communications, a telecom/technology consulting agency based in Richmond, Virginia since 1991, provides best-in-class solutions and unbiased counsel to a diverse group of small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses, totaling more than $18.2M in annual billings. Leveraging unique access to 350+ national and international providers, Comtel benefits its clients through competitive quotes from multiple sources, to ensure their business goals are met with current and dynamic telecom and technology services. Acting as a partner, long after contracts are signed and services are deployed, Comtel offers superb back-office support to manage upgrades, track orders, and provide training to clients.