Does technology confuse you? As a technology service provider, we are repeatedly faced with challenges that create opportunities for us to help our clients and successfully overcome the issue(s) at hand with either a simple change, or by adopting an effective “technology make-over” to improve the desired result.
The fact that people are becoming more technically savvy and adept today, than say 10 years ago, is evidenced by the abundance of gadgets in use, including smart phones and tablets. This proves that technology is changing at a rapid pace. However, there is still a general degree of confusion about certain aspects of technology, and that includes voice over IP (VoIP). For those of us in the telecom industry, we need to make sure that we’re staying up to date on current trends; and then take full responsibility and better care in educating the masses (or those that want to be better informed), which is why we’re revisiting this topic again.
Sometimes we hear our clients say “We need voice over IP”, yet the person is unsure why they’re asking for it. They might say “so we can reduce our phone bill with free calling over the Internet”, or “I read about it and we want the benefits”. We’ve also heard “We don’t want voice over IP”, for what we believe to be uninformed reasons like “we can’t be down”; or, “because our phones are the lifeline of our business and we can’t afford to miss a call”; or “I know someone that had problems with it a few years ago”.
Uninformed or misinformed, but not unimportant. In all due respect, these concerns are all valid, but there is clearly a misunderstanding that needs to be addressed. And although we may not be able to completely clear it up in this short article, our goal is to raise your awareness and start a dialog so we can discuss the possibilities together and find the best fit for you. Voice over IP doesn’t solve all problems, but it packs a powerful punch and delivers significant results in most cases.
Having an open discussion with an experienced vendor can turn these reasons for considering VoIP, or excuses for not considering VoIP into the exact justification for why you need a VoIP solution. But a vendor’s lack of understanding – of your needs, of your concerns, or of the technology; or perhaps ignorance on your part in one of these areas can prevent you from realizing the full potential and actual benefits of a VoIP solution.
This doesn’t mean that VoIP is a silver bullet either. It simply means that you need to consult with an experienced provider like IDeACOM that can understand your needs & concerns, and provide you with multiple options, along with the pros & cons of each option specific to your situation.
Some considerations include:
- What is the actual difference between a premise-based VoIP solution and a hosted VoIP service? This needs to be evaluated in terms of desired functionality, initial cost, and ongoing cost of ownership.
- What is the landscape of your organization? This includes key departments, number of offices, functions that can be centralized, potential for remote telecommuters, and future relocation / expansion / consolidation plans.
- What is the condition of your technology infrastructure? This includes your computer network, wide area network connectivity, phone system, structured voice & data cabling, contracts with existing dial tone providers, and broadband speeds.
- Your strategic objectives. Are you looking to improve productivity & efficiency, reduce monthly-recurring costs, enhance the level of service & support that your organization provides, concerned about the impact of older and rapidly changing technology, or trying to gain a more competitive position in your market?
And we haven’t even talked about VoIP technology yet, such as VoIP protocols, VoIP codec’s, or the 3 main elements of VoIP. Al Gore’s incredible Internet was developed in the 1950’s 🙂 and although Internet Telephony was only introduced in the mid 1990’s, it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that voice really started to take shape as broadband speeds increased and the technology improved.
Prior to this, ‘voice over’ was an unreliable approach for toll bypass and free calling between offices; or a poor quality, internal-only communications network that consisted of a haphazard integration of hardware, software and slow Internet access. The vast potential of capabilities is what initially caught people’s attention. And it’s really only been during the past 3 to 5 years that voice over IP has morphed into a reliable, mission-critical mainstay technology for business.
In fact, it’s near impossible to purchase a non VoIP-based system today. But I must caution you: NOT ALL VOIP SYSTEMS ARE CREATED EQUAL! There is a huge disparity not only between systems, but also in a vendor’s ability to successfully deploy voice over IP. So beware and make sure to do your due diligence by conducting extensive reference checks, site visits, and pre-deployment testing.
So we’ll end this article by briefly reviewing the 3 elements of voice over IP:
- The phones. VoIP phones connect to your computer network. This means that in addition to the phones in your office, you can easily and cost-effectively deploy phones outside of your office.
- The lines. In addition to traditional carrier services, Internet Telephony Service Providers are delivering reliable Internet-based dial tone & carrier services. This means that at a minimum, your phone number is truly portable throughout the country, you have built-in disaster recovery failover, and unlimited calling plans can dramatically reduce your monthly bill.
- Connectivity between sites. If you have more than one office, this element provides you with “seamless” connectivity between your offices. This means you can centralize your attendant and system administration, have transparency for internal communications and call transfers, and take advantage of that “free calling”; only between your offices of course.
Obviously there’s a lot more to it, and this is only a tip of the iceberg. Voice over IP can help you transform your business by improving overall functionality, reducing overhead, and by expanding the boundaries of your office. This ultimately results in more value to your clients and employees. Next month we’ll revisit the 4 different types of phone systems that are available on the market today. Until then, let us know how we can help to demystify this often-confusing technology known as voice over IP. Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment below.