The on-site PBX (public branch exchange) type of phone system was fine in the age of the “nine to five” work day – when staff relied on business telephony largely consisting of desktop computers and telephones (and good old-fashioned pen and paper) to keep their communications and office tasks integrated and co-ordinated.
But we now live in a digital age, where business telephony in particular and communications in general demand instant access and real-time connectivity – in a working environment that’s expanded beyond the office or warehouse to include home-based, mobile, and remote staff using laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
On-premise phone systems may be stretched to cope with all that’s required of today’s expansive and fluid working environments. So, for this and other reasons, it’s beneficial to move your business telephony into the cloud.
An Advanced Office Phone System For All
Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP is a technology which converts voice signals into digital data that can be transmitted just like any other information over the internet. It’s also the medium which makes it possible for telecommunications infrastructure and its associated software to be located on remote and virtual servers in the cloud, rather than confined to the hardware and cabling of an on-premises PBX.
This means that the features of a hosted VoIP or virtual PBX system can be made available as data and applications from the cloud – so a complete business telephony system becomes accessible not only to users of office phones and desktop computers, but to anyone in an organisation with a device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.) that’s capable of connecting to the internet.
So, branch offices, franchises, remote, home-based, and mobile workers can all benefit from the same advanced features. These typically include call routing and forwarding, voicemail to email transcription, fax, auto-attendants (virtual receptionists), call monitoring, video conferencing, and instant messaging.
The Ability to Expand & Connect
A cloud-based business telephony system provides a centralised platform for the management of enterprise communications, with a common administrative console available as client software on users’ devices. So, businesses with a widely dispersed or global presence can easily link all of their centres of operations with a central hub.
This makes oversight much easier, and allows for centralised and automated billing. Lines and extensions may be added or removed via the administrative portal, in response to an organisation’s changing circumstances, or changes in market conditions.
Integrated Mobile & Applications
Cloud telephony deployments typically include dedicated mobile apps through which subscribers may gain full access to the system. Number portability is a common feature of these apps, enabling workers to associate their business telephone numbers with their mobile phones so that calls and text messages made from a device are perceived by customers and contacts as originating from an office – irrespective of the time of day, or where a worker happens to be.
Business telephony applications may also include visibility features like presence panels, which allow workers to keep track of the phone status of their colleagues and contacts (Unavailable, On a Call, etc.), and convenience functions like “click to dial” phone book entries.
The fact that voice and other types of data co-exist on the internet cloud platform also allows integration with office productivity applications and resources like document-sharing platforms and collaboration software.
Ease of Installation & Management
With a hosted VoIP solution, there’s no need for a big capital investment in exchange hardware or wiring. VoIP-compatible phones may already exist on your premises. If not, you may require a moderate spend on headsets and software for desktop or laptop “softphones” (which may be included in your subscription package), VoIP adapters for legacy equipment, or dedicated VoIP telephones.
In any event, installation should be a simple matter of setting up the software and plugging things into their correct sockets. A good service provider will be on hand with assistance – and the cloud service will also take responsibility for maintaining and managing your business telephony infrastructure. This responsibility should extend to updating any software or provided hardware when new versions become available.
A service like Swytch also empowers businesses to operate a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. The Swytch cloud-hosted platform assigns UK-registered business numbers to your workers’ mobile phones – and provides dedicated mobile apps and a user-friendly online dashboard for managing features, accounts, provisioning, visibility, and cost control.
Lower Costs & Time Savings
Routing voice data across the internet produces a significant savings in call charges for users of cloud-based telephony systems. Monthly subscription charges for hosted VoIP are extremely competitive, and enterprise savings of 50% or more annually are now standard, due to the low tariffs for long distance and international calls, and the free or very low rates for calls within the same network.
Simple set-up procedures, ease of management, and the streamlining of business operations through integrated functions also generate significant savings in time – which can be spent concentrating on issues related to improving your business.
Better Customer Service
Integration of business telephony with on-premises or cloud-based functions like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) empowers organisations to better co-ordinate their business processes, lines of supply, and points of contact with the consumer – thereby delivering a more satisfying experience to the customer.
Reassurance in A Crisis
There will of course be times when things go wrong, and incidents occur to disrupt or disable communications in your usual place of work.
But with your business phone system operating in the cloud, you can be assured that your service provider has put Disaster Recovery (DR) measures in place to redirect calls to a number that you designate (e.g. mobile or residential phone).
If you haven’t considered doing so yet, the benefits outlined above should give you reason enough to contemplate moving your business telephony to the cloud.