Thursday, July 24, 2008

“Is it time to switch my business to VoIP telephone service?”

Anyone that follows the business or technology news knows that one of the current mega-trends is the convergence of voice and data traffic. The process of sending telephone calls over the Internet uses technology known as Voice over Internet Protocol ("VoIP"). VoIP is a well established technology, and in fact, most larger corporations are already using VoIP for some or all of their voice communications.

While VoIP is working well for large corporations with big budgets and large IT departments, the question still remains for many small & medium business owners of whether now is the right time to switch over the phone system to one that utilizes Internet communications. Making the decision more difficult are the horror stories that are making the rounds about businesses that spent a lot of money to convert to VoIP, only to find that reliability issues, dropped calls, static, and poor service caused them to scrap their investment and move back to at traditional digital phone system.

The fact is that Internet phone service for small and medium business is a technology that has arrived. The reliability issues have been resolved, and the cost savings are meaningful. The latest hybrid systems can utilize existing digital equipment in the main office (potentially without the need to replace all the existing phones) while utilizing IP phones or laptop based "soft phones" for remote workers. Before you make the decision to migrate your small business, here are a couple of questions to ask:
1. What is the availability and quality of broadband Internet connections in your area? You must have a reliable, high speed Internet connection from a quality provider and in some industrial areas these may not be available. The best scenario is a location where you have multiple broadband Internet service providers so that if one has problems you can switch.
2. What is the experience of my communications vendor? If you are dealing with a networking company that hasn't been doing phone systems for very long, you could be in for trouble. Look for a provider that has a long track record of success in installing and supporting phone systems (not just computer networks!!).
3. What is the reputation of the equipment provider being considered? There are numerous companies providing inexpensive phone equipment, but do you really want to take a chance with the lifeline of your business? Look for a company that works with name brand hardware from a company that has an excellent reputation in business phone systems - names like Nortel or Cisco are brands that you can trust.
With a VoIP capable phone system you can connect remote offices, traveling workers, and even your home just as if they were extensions on your phone system. You can do Integrated Messaging where your voicemails come into your email system as attachments and you can click and dial out of your Contacts folder to access your customers. All of the great features of integrated voice & data systems not only save your company money, but they improve your internal productivity and allow you to be more responsive to your customers. What business wouldn't want that?

In future issues, we'll explore the features and benefits of VoIP business phone systems.

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1 comment:

Malc said...

If your business isn't that big, you can probably switch then.... I'm not sure if Telephone Systems Northeast Mississippi use VoIP nowadays...