What Is Hosted Telephony and How Can It Benefit Your Business?
If you haven't yet made the switch to a hosted telephone system, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. On the surface, this next generation form of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) may not seem overly different to traditional systems, as it allows you to continue making and receiving calls in the same way as you always have done. The main difference is the hardware: with a Hosted phone system, there is no traditional PBX on site - the whole system is hosted fully in the cloud.
However, the real strength of hosted telephony lies in its versatility and this flexibility sets it apart from more traditional systems. You are no longer limited to one-to-one voice calls and Hosted systems can be rich in productivity enhancing features and applications lacking in your current system.
Integrated Communications Across Numerous Devices
Multiple devices can be integrated to operate in unison, facilitating collaboration and allowing members of your team to stay connected, even when operating from different locations, as voice, video and data can be transmitted across the entire network.
Traditional desk phones are replaced with IP handsets, which handle voice traffic over an internet connection. This in turn is handled by a cloud-based data centre, meaning no hardware and maintenance costs and dramatically reduced up front expenditure - something which has always been a barrier to companies looking to upgrade their phone system.
Call recording is free with some systems, and there is no requirement for calls to be received at a fixed location, empowering staff to take contact numbers with them anywhere in the world, whether hot-desking at a different site or using their mobile device.
While many organisations take advantage of cloud IT services, hosted telephony has seen a slower rise in popularity, largely due to early versions of systems not being quite as capable as their traditional counterparts. These days, the Hosted offering has dramatically improved, with leading solutions being built on nationwide, robust networks, user portals being much more user friendly and intuitive, and features and applications much more versatile.
As a consequence, the number of businesses moving to hosted networks has seen a steady increase in recent years.
Scalability and Versatility
The scope of cloud services means this technology can benefit your business in many ways. An analysis by industry veteran Timothy Chou goes as far as to conclude that costs for a given software solution can be brought down by as much as 90 percent by implementing a cloud deployment model.
There are many reasons for this, the most obvious being that, unlike an in-house network, cloud deployments generally only require you to pay for each user on a monthly basis, rather than in an up-front manner. Furthermore, hosted telephony can easily be scaled up or down depending on business needs, making it an attractive option to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with plans for growth. Similarly, if your organisation requires temporary use of an extra server for purposes such as software development or testing, this can be arranged with ease.
This versatility also applies to the deployment of hosted telephony; if you open a new branch, it can immediately be connected to your network. In the event of emergency, communications can be moved off-site, allowing operations to continue as usual while the crisis is resolved.
Prepare for the Future
More and more organisations are embracing this technology, not just for its versatility and potential to reduce running costs, but also as a means of future-proofing in light of imminent changes to the face of business communications.
In the UK, BT plans to switch off its ISDN network by 2025, migrating customers to a single IP core network, meaning an eventual switch to a VoIP-based (Voice over Internet Protocol) system is likely to be essential. As such, embracing hosted technology early can give you and your business the chance to adapt to the change at leisure, rather than being faced with a hasty transition when the move becomes imperative.
As the future of telephony, VoIP systems are a must for any modern business, whether you're an SME hoping to expand, or a larger, established organisation seeking to retain your footing in an increasingly advanced technological world.
Patrick Lincoln is the founder of UK unified communications company, Solution IP.