Despite the increasing popularity of email, social media, and other online networking tools, many business owners still depend on the telephone for a good portion of their communications. But technology has also brought dramatic changes to phone service, and the options for purchasing a new voice communications system are more numerous and confusing than ever before.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a telephone system that digitizes calls into data and sends them over data lines or the Internet instead of telephone lines strung between poles that have been delivering phone service for decades.
Your business can save money — and perhaps even gain additional benefits by switching to a VoIP phone system solution. Some of the benefits afforded by utilizing VoIP include:
2. VoIP Scales Up or Down EasilyIt's not always easy to predict how many phones you'll need over the next year, and if you have a traditional phone system, you have to estimate carefully to avoid spending money on phone lines you won't use. With VoIP, you can add a line as soon as you add a new employee, and when an employee leaves, you can easily reassign or remove the line. You will always have the right number of phone lines to meet your needs.
3. VoIP Integrates With Other Business SystemsBecause VoIP calls are internet-based, VoIP systems are easier to integrate with the business applications you use every day. You can do things like place outbound calls through Outlook or other email clients, or bring up a customer record with that customer's inbound calls.
Voice mail accounts are always accessible through email for workers who travel, and you can even get voice mail transcription with some hosted VoIP phone systems. This feature transcribes voicemail messages into text and routes them to your email account, so you don't have to worry about taking notes while conversing.
4. A Range of Call Features Are SupportedAll of the traditional call system features you expect are available in VoIP systems, including call hold, call transfer, call hunt, conference calling, find me / follow me, and auto-attendant phone menus. You won't give up any of your favorite features by choosing hosted VoIP.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is now entering the mainstream, blurring the line between data infrastructure and phone infrastructure. With VoIP, some part of your phone calls are carried over the same devices and cables as your email and Internet.
While VoIP lines require an Internet connection and power to make and receive calls, analog voice lines receive power from your local phone company, and will continue to work even if the power in your office goes out. Even still, VoIP has many advantages. Data networks are more flexible than the old-fashioned analog voice networks, and VoIP offers better resiliency. Data networks are also very good at getting data to the right place with tremendous flexibility, and therefore VoIP technologies can make you reachable just about anywhere. Most importantly, the ability for vendors to offer voice services over the Internet without a physical connection to your office has broken century-old monopolies and resulted in real competition. The result is dramatically lower prices and improved features.
~Willie E. Brake is a Computer Expert and Industry Analyst at All About Technology, a Certified Minority Business Enterprise and Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, based in Detroit, Michigan.