Despite being the superior phone technology, only about 31% of businesses are utilizing VoIP phone systems (Multicom). Like with any new technology, widespread adoption takes time; however, the direction of the industry is clear. Gartner predicts by 2021, 90% of IT leaders will stop purchasing traditional on-premise communications and instead will be implementing VoIP systems.
What is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the delivery of telephone calls over the Internet. Voice data is transmitted into data packets that are then sent over IP, instead of traditional circuit transmission over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Transmitting voice data over the Internet has proved to be cheaper and more reliable than traditional methods, but this wasn’t always the case.
History of VoIP
VoIP, as we know it, was created in 1995 by a company called VocalTec. In its infancy, VoIP was considered unreliable and expensive. Low bandwidth and improper network configuration resulted in poor sound quality and frequent dropped calls (Fortis). Even though early VoIP was plagued with issues, its potential was still recognized. There have been significant innovations and improvements to VoIP technology since the ’90s and it is now considered the most reliable and cost-effective phone technology available.
5 Benefits of Using VoIP
Arguably, the greatest benefit VoIP has to offer is its mobility. If you have access to the Internet, you’ll be able to access your office phone. Traditional phone systems are tethered to on-site infrastructure, making them highly immobile. If you need to relocate an employee or if you’re planning an office move, not only will you have downtime while migrating your phone system, you’ll also have to pay expensive setup costs.
As the remote workforce continues to grow, the need for highly mobile technology, such as VoIP, will grow along with it. Even if your organization isn’t planning to hire remote workers, you’ll benefit from the flexibility VoIP offers. If a natural disaster, pandemic, or any other event that prevents people from getting to the office occurs, the ability to seamlessly resume operations cannot be understated.
The increased mobility and flexibility offered by VoIP will allow your people to accomplish more. Companies that switch over to VoIP have noted a roughly 20% increase in productivity (Harbor Networks).
Reduced setup costs aren’t the only financial benefit of VoIP systems. Traditional phone systems typically bill by the minute, which can add up fast. VoIP service providers typically have a flat monthly fee billing model. Not only is the flat monthly fee model cheaper, but it also eliminates surprise telecom costs. The savings are significant, businesses that switch to VoIP typically reduce their telecom costs by over 50% (Telzio).
VoIP providers can keep their costs low because they are able to implement standardized VoIP solutions. Standardized systems are easier and cheaper to manage than custom on-site solutions. However, if your business does have unique telecom needs, you can ask your VoIP service provider to create a best-fit solution catered to your business.
Access to additional features
Not only does VoIP have improved versions of features from traditional phones, but it also offers features that weren’t previously possible using traditional phone systems. Below are some features VoIP offers:
- Ability to send text, images, videos, documents, etc.
- Video conferencing
- Call recording and analytics
- Local numbers so your area code will match your market
- Call forwarding to your personal cellphone
- Toll-free numbers
- Scalability: easily add and remove numbers as needed
- More sophisticated versions of caller id, call forwarding, voicemail, etc.
- All voicemails are automatically transcribed and sent to your email
Are you using Microsoft Teams? Microsoft recently released an add-on for Teams called Business Voice that will transform your Teams application into a fully-functional VoIP phone system. Click here to learn more about Microsoft Business Voice.
You can connect your VoIP system to your existing Internet connection, or you can get hosted VoIP. With hosted VoIP, your provider will supply and manage the connection to your VoIP system. Often VoIP providers have a Quality of Service guarantee promising a certain level of call quality and a service uptime guarantee.
It’s typical for VoIP providers to have service uptimes of 99.9% or higher, so you can be sure your phones will work when you need them to.
If you experience an unexpected Internet outage, you can still resume operations. Simply set your VoIP phone to automatically forward calls to your cellphone, and you can continue working with minimal downtime.
However, poorly managed personal devices are an often-overlooked security risk businesses forget to address until it’s too late. If you’re consistently using your personal devices for work, don’t let your device be the cause of a data breach. Watch this video on Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies and mobile device management to learn more about BYOD security risks and how to mitigate them.
Speaking of security, VoIP can offer a level of security that traditional phone systems can’t compete with. However, the level of security is highly dependent on your VoIP provider. At the very least, make sure the VoIP provider you’re considering offers basic security features such as data and network encryption, firewalls, multi-factor authentication, etc.
If you have more complex security needs, or your company deals with medical information, consider engaging VoIP providers with security certifications such as SOC 2 Type 2 and HIPAA.
It’s expected that within the next few years, most businesses will be utilizing VoIP technology; don’t let your business become antiquated. Your Chief Information Officer (CIO) is responsible for bringing new technology solutions like VoIP to your business and should work with your leadership team to determine if VoIP is a good fit for your organization. It’s their responsibility to help you maximize the value VoIP technology delivers to your people and your operations as they plan for and work towards a successful implementation.
A poorly managed VoIP implementation can cause significant downtime, frustration, and financial loss. You should consult your CIO or outsourced Technology Solutions Provider (TSP) before you make any major technology decision. If you want to learn more about how VoIP can benefit your business or if you’re looking for a VoIP provider, talk to our IT outsourcing team.