1 - Low Capital Investment |
Cost is a big bottom line for many. There's very little equipment needed for IP based Hosted Telephony. You need the phones, a decent broadband supply and a switch, preferably a POE switch (one that can supply power to the phones).
Taking account of the lifespan of a phone system a traditional phone system might cost twice as much or even more once it's all installed. It's unlikely that a hosted system will cost more but even if it does it will most likely be more convenient to install and use which in turn saves time and therefore cost in a different way.
You can also use soft phones (use your computer to make calls) albeit they are not usually as good as a dedicated internet phone (IP phone).
Just because I don't want to miss these things out; you can use conference phones and business or domestic class wireless phones with Hosted Telephony too!
Most suppliers will have a range of phones from one or more manufacturers that you can use depending on whether you want very simple phones all the way up to sophisticated colour display phones with touch screens.
2 - Scalable
This is one of the most flexible things about Hosted Telephony. Most Hosted Telephony systems are billed for monthly on a per subscriber basis so if you have 8 phone's you pay 8 subscriptions. This is like having 8 traditional phone lines... in fact it's like having more than 8 lines as you can put people on hold whilst you talk to another and hold 3 way conference calls so it's more like having 16 phone lines available for when you need them.
Typically subscription costs will vary depending on the provider and the features you want but this often works out less than a traditional phone line. With most providers you can change the number of subscriptions you have each month so if your business is 8 people this month, 12 people the next month and 6 the month after that you only have to pay for the number of subscriptions you use at those times. It's true that you may need to buy the extra phones but at least you only need to pay for services as and when you need them.
In a similar way extra features like call recording and operator consoles can be added and taken away as needed.
3 - Mobility
For Hosted Telephony mobility can mean quite a few things...
If you are based in London, you have a 0208 number for example and you want to move to say Nottingham, no problem, just unplug the switch and the phones, take them to Nottingham, plug it all back in again and carry on. You will retain your 0208 number and in theory if your move was to Australia the same applies.
Got an office with some people working from home? Maybe you have an apartment in Spain? That's no problem either, each can have their own phone or soft phone wherever they are and it's still part of the same system. It's worth mentioning that calls between phones on the same system are usually free, wherever they are but again this depends on the supplier.
Sometimes you are in the office, sometimes at home, sometimes at clients and sometimes in the car. Again no problem you can set Hosted Telephony to follow you by ringing each of your phones in turn until you answer or if you like all your phones can be rung at the same time.
Some systems might have a little app that goes on your mobile to make it part of the system. As an aside more mobile phones are becoming available that can make calls over the internet when available instead of the 2G mobile network.
Hosted telephony allows you to use numbers that are not in your area so if you are in London and want to have numbers for Bath and Brighton that's no problem either. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing but it does mean that area based numbers are losing their meaning, much as the mobile phone network by default means area numbers don't make any sense.
4 - Easy to Maintain and Great Support
If you have your own on premises phone system you often end up paying for support. Support for when you don't understand something, when you need something changed and for when something goes wrong.
With Hosted telephony much of that support comes with the subscription. The thing that you may need help with from your IT support is if there are problems on your network or broadband supply. Having said that Hosted Telephony support will overlap with your IT support and if your Hosted telephony supplier is supplying your broadband then this area is covered.
Support should be able to help you with how to do things yourself and will be able to do them for you if needed.
5 - A Uniform Experience Everywhere
Let's say you have a business with one main office and 10 branches. If you went down the traditional PBX route and you had opened the branches at different times you might have a variety of phone systems or maybe no phone system if the branch is very small. These systems might not talk to each at all or maybe partially. The different phone systems may work in different ways.
With hosted Telephony none of this matters, the system works the same everywhere, everyone can communicate with everyone else and it doesn't matter if there is 1 person or 100 people at any particular location.
6 - Backup and Fail-over
Because the main system is usually hosted in secure duplicated environments everything should backed up for you from the system configuration to any recorded calls you might have. If the computer with your system on it fails then another takes over and you will notice little or no difference, chances are you won't even know that anything happened.
But... what happens if your broadband goes down and some of your phones are disconnected from the system? That's also not so much of a problem. Depending on how you want things to work there are several ways in which inbound calls can still get to you. You can redirect calls to another phone in another branch, your own phone or a colleague's. If you already have calls following you or ringing your phones simultaneously then those phones will continue to ring.
7 - Control from Your PC
Most Hosted Telephony systems can be managed by yourself either at individual level or at system level. Some systems have a tool bar that is installed on Outlook which controls much of the phone configuration which many people find very convenient.
You can also control things by logging in from a web browser from anywhere, from menu items on your phone and through older style star codes e.g. *78 might activate Do Not Disturb mode.
From the web browser login you can get reports on the calls going in and out of your system:
You can control many things in the system easily from anywhere without needing an engineer and without having to know much about telephone systems or how they work. The phone system just becomes another piece of software for you to access.
8 - More Future Proof than Many Other Telephony Solutions
From time to time the system will be upgraded to fix any bugs that might still be in the systems (there are always some bugs in every computer system), to improve existing features and add new ones. This will all be maintained for you. Hosted Telephony Systems could be quite different in 10 years but you don't have to worry about it. The only hardware you might want to change is the phones and the switch but even those items can receive firmware and software updates so that they can go on doing their job for longer. Changing phones is a cost but at least any disruption is kept to a minimum and can be phased if necessary.
9 - Bolt-ons For When You Need Them
Depending on your business and how you run it you might want a few extra features such as call recording, call queueing, auto attendants, an operators console and maybe even a wall board for a call centre. You may need some of these only some of the time so again, you only need to pay for what you are using when you are using it.
10 - A Low Carbon Footprint
Last and not least, like many Cloud services you and your company will be doing your bit for the environment. The servers used with Hosted Telephony are usually high quality enterprise servers that use less energy than others and result in a reduced carbon footprint all round.
You will probably be using phones which will use some power but you won't have a phone system control unit to run so will be using less electricity than you would if you had a more traditional system.
Each user takes around 90kbps internet bandwidth per call running over your existing network and possibly your existing broadband supply. Even if you need a dedicated broadband supply this utilises less infrastructure than multiple analogue or ISDN phone lines and therefore uses less energy.
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