While cheaper calls may be the immediate advantage, adopting a new voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone system can make your business more efficient through simplified communications, effective call monitoring and devices that are easier to use and have more features.
Imagine being able to store all your phone numbers on a USB device which plugs into a PC and allows you a single click calling option through your PBX. For example, “Unified Presence Server” from Cisco is a central server that compiles information on the status and availability of users and displays it on PCs and even telephone devices. The phone handsets are wireless, and, what's more, all your employees will have a single telephone number for their home, mobile or office device. The many different software and hardware interfaces provided by current business phone systems offer the possibility of eliminating some of the latency involved in human interactions and so giving a faster response time.
Companies such as Microsoft, Cisco and Nortel are forming partnerships to offer you business solutions that work across network, PC and telephone devices. Every day, Cisco alone displaces about 12,000 traditional telephones (based on time-division multiplex, or TDM, technology).
If you're worried all the fancy frills are going to be expensive, think again. Through efficient planning, the flexibility and compatibility of the new generation of phone systems allows sharing of lines and other resources across departments, devices and geographical locations. This leads to significant reduction in call costs and recurring line rental charges. What's more, calls between VoIP systems are covered by the cost of your broadband connection, effectively making them free. Detailed call logging, reporting and analysis help to identify and correct inefficient usage as well as misuse.
However, along with the advantages of high-end features comes a level of complexity during the initial stages. While switching over to a new phone system, the implementation may not be phased in, so be prepared for the lack of a back-up system. Also, if you are looking for high-end features, be sure to check for compatibility between software and hardware devices.
At some point, most businesses realise that the limitations of dated phone systems hold them back from expanding their opportunities, increasing productivity and taking advantage of current advancements. Legacy systems have their strengths, but the ideal situation would be to acquire a new system with the advantages of the old ones, along with lower costs and increased functionality.