VoIP: the next generation of business communication

In the world of business communication, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a life-changing application for business owners. Like sending emails, VoIP consists of phone calls sent as data over the web and thereby reducing the cost of business communication drastically. It offers more advantages than traditional telephone services do including increased productivity and keeping businesses connected to their essential stakeholders.

Despite these advantages and its growing popularity, some small to medium businesses are still doubtful about VoIP’s audio fidelity, cost, and some difficulties in its implementation. While quality, performance and maintenance may have been problematic when VoIP technology was initially launched, today the benefits of VoIP far outweigh any disadvantages.

Although traditional telephones were and, in some instances, still are the backbone of global businesses, location is a limitation since accepting a telephone call is only possible within proximity of the telephone system. Additionally, they are expensive to operate and businesses can end up with telephone bills of thousands over a few weeks. These are not problems experienced by with VoIP users since they can take and make calls anytime, anywhere, at a relatively small fee.

Traditional telephones are limited to only two callers at any one time while most VoIP services allow conference calls with up to 100 users as a standard feature, with collaborative options for sharing feedback and presentations. In today’s fast-moving world, the lack of features in traditional telephony has e made the technology redundant. VoIP has advanced features such as caller ID, contact lists, voicemail, extra-virtual numbers, and document sharing, call recording video calls which are not with traditional telephones.

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Migrating from traditional land lines to VoIP

Companies can prepare for the initial interruption that a migration may involve by understanding that VoIP is always evolving which provides an opportunity to access improved services and better features. To ease the transition, companies need to identify and define their goals and be aware of the impact a VoIP installation will have on the following three main groups, namely executives, customer-facing staff, and IT.

Training will be required for frontline or customer-facing staff as the most critical users of the new VoIP system. However, the potential advantages of VoIP will eliminate any transition problems as these employees will grasp how their productivity will increase. Executives will mostly be interested in the cost-effectiveness, increased productivity, and the integration of the new system into a full Unified Communications platform. Since VoIP’s user-friendly installation is simple, and updates are downloaded automatically, a company’s IT team who will be responsible for the new system, will have time is freed up to work on more pressing matters.

VoIP has three basic deployment models including on-premise, cloud and hybrid models. On-premises deployment is fundamentally an extension of a legacy phone system and the software is installed on-site in company servers. It provides greater control of the system and the change is less disruptive but is more expensive and may require a full-time support team.

The opposite of on-premises deployment is Cloud deployment with software maintained outside of the organisation in another company’s data centre. It is the most popular option for smaller and medium-sized enterprises. Companies can also select a hybrid option which involves both previously mentioned installations.

When a VoIP system is installed and running, organisations can take full advantage of the fact that it is always on and can remotely bring teams closer together through Unified Communications features. Unified Communications integrates numerous products under a consistent user interface that provides the services such as voice, instant messaging (IM/chat), audio, web, and video conferencing, data sharing, desktop sharing, fixed-mobile convergence, call control, and speech recognition.

Unified communications can become a major competitive advantage for businesses that utilise a variety of different messaging tools and collaboration platforms. With a single, unified interface for all the different platforms, users become more focused and productive. Smaller companies with more limited resources looking to leverage technology to become more competitive find it particularly useful.

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