What Is VoIP?
Definition of VoIP: A family of technologies, methodologies, communication protocols and transmission techniques for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet.
Business VoIP systems have many benefits for organizations. Using the Internet for voice calls is typically more cost-effective and makes IT’s management of the company’s phone system easier, in addition to providing useful features for users.
The top benefits of business VoIP include:
- Lower calling costs — 55% of current or potential VoIP users said cost is the main reason they were using or considering the service, according to a 2010 survey conducted by Better Buys for Business. Many business VoIP plans charge companies a flat rate per phone and allow unlimited local and long distance calling.
- Greater manageability — Putting a telephone system on the company’s computer network makes users’ phones easier to manage. Adding or moving extensions requires a simple change in software configuration, rather than a complex re-wiring.
- Enhanced mobility — With business VoIP, employees can make and receive calls on their work lines while they’re out of the office by using computer software that imitates their physical telephone. Many systems also have call routing features that automatically forwards calls to users’ cell or home phones, depending on where they are.
- Advanced features — Since they’re software-based, many business VoIP systems come standard with powerful calling features that can enhance users’ productivity. Some common features include a display screen showing a name directory, call records, and other information, multiple folders for organizing voice mails, and integration with PCs that lets users call a number directly from a web browser or address book in an email client.
- Integration with other software — Business VoIP systems can also enhance productivity by integrating with other software applications the business uses. For example, software tools can allow businesses to keep better track of phone activity to increase the efficiency of their call centers.
Getting Ready for VoIP
Adding voice service to the company’s network on top of everything else that’s already being handled can put a big burden on IT resources. Failing to assess current network capabilities and upgrade accordingly is one of the biggest mistakes companies make when implementing a VoIP system.
Experts recommend businesses considering VoIP conduct a call volume study before the installation, either on their own or with the help of an outside consultant. That will help determine what additional stress will be placed on the network and what, if any, upgrades need to be made.
In addition to assessing hardware, it’s important to address how capable your company’s current IT staff will be in supporting the VoIP system, and what technical support you’ll need from the VoIP vendor.
Choosing a Business VoIP Provider
There are a lot of business VoIP vendors out there with different options in terms of pricing, features and how the service is delivered. One of the biggest decisions businesses need to make is whether to go with a system that is hosted by the vendor, one that is purchased and kept on-premise by the company, or a managed system that’s owned by the company but supported by the vendor.
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