The Evolution of VoIP
When VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone technology debuted in early 2000, it was still in its infancy. This was proven by lackluster performance, expensive implementation costs, poor voice quality and few innovative features. Today VoIP is refined, and the technology much improved and offered at lower costs. In addition to the basic functionality of making and receiving calls, add-ons such as instant messaging, voice to text conversion and email integration have further demonstrated that VoIP phone systems and service are here to stay. Now, providers offer hosted solutions which further simplifies things, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of an enterprise phone system while keeping the complexity and costs down.
Value – We all want to get the most value for our money, and investing in a hosted VoIP phone service is one way to do that. Traditional phone service can be slow to provision, with long lead times between order and delivery. It’s also time consuming and expensive to expand. VoIP technology can be delivered quickly, since it uses your existing internet connection to deliver service. It can also be expanded easily, as the systems that deliver the service are software based – and only require a few clicks to add capacity. Since VoIP is delivered over internet, adding or reducing the number of extensions doesn’t require a vendor to go onsite, which also speeds up the process.
Workflow – If you utilize your email a lot, you’ll enjoy some of the features that VoIP technology can deliver. Most can be configured to forward your voicemails to an email address as an attached MP3 or WAV file, which can be played over your computers speakers. This eliminates having to dial into your voicemail to retrieve them, and allows you to respond quickly to messages. Also, you can save any important messages in your email for retrieval later. More advanced systems can convert the voicemail to text, which allows you to read the message as an email rather than listening to it.
Communication – Instant messaging with “presence” has been proven to reduce inter-office emails, and cut down the clutter in your inbox. Presence means that other users of the system are aware of your status, usually through an icon next to your name stating if you’re available or not. If you’re on the phone, your status will change to “on the phone” automatically. You can also manually set your status so other users know if you’re available. More advanced systems will synchronize with your Outlook calendar, automatically setting your status to “in a meeting” if you’re scheduled for a meeting during that time.
Simplicity – Another advantage most VoIP systems offer are softphones. Softphones are software based telephones that run as an application on a workstation, mobile device or laptop. Using your computer or mobile device and headset, you can launch the softphone to make and receive phone calls. This means less hardware, increased portability, and an easier way to use the system when you’re away from your office.
Flexibility – The flexibility of VoIP systems means you can have your phone system wherever you have internet access. For mobile users, this means your office phone travels with you – improving your ability to service customers as well as giving you the flexibility to truly work from anywhere. In disaster recovery scenarios, having your hosted VoIP system available in another location is easily accomplished.
If you’re looking at a new phone system, or your business needs require flexibility, make sure you explore a hosted VoIP system. You might find its exactly what you’ve been waiting for!