Is VoIP For My Business?
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) can bring many advantages to a business of any size. And unlike some technologies that are limited to larger enterprises, VoIP is well-suited for small businesses or even SOHO operations. There is no limit on how large or small your company needs to be to enjoy the advantages of VoIP.
If you have a new business, then deploying VoIP is an easy decision. The cost is lower, implementation is easy, and you’ll get more features than you would with a standard phone company setup. For an established business with an existing, traditional PBX and phone company service however, there may be some mitigating circumstances. The biggest drawback is the accounting problem of having costly existing equipment that has not yet been fully depreciated, which must be replaced to switch to VoIP. As a result, moving to VoIP may cause a company to take a hit on the bottom line in the short-term.
This short-term hit will of course be offset by long-term gains, as the overall cost of VoIP on a month-to-month basis will be lower than your older traditional system. It is however, a long-term gain, and a company that may be particularly concerned about short-term numbers may wish to put off the decision to migrate to VoIP.
If you are a very small business with only a few lines, you may also question whether VoIP is appropriate for you, and the answer is almost always “yes.” Small businesses in particular are not likely to require on-premises IP PBX equipment, and so the up-front costs will be minimal. A hosted VoIP system can be deployed very quickly, and with very little or no up-front expense. The hosted system also gives the small business the advantage of not having to have in-house staff to maintain on-premises equipment.
The question of whether VoIP is appropriate for a large business is similarly easy to answer. With phone costs that could go up into the tens of thousands of dollars monthly, the savings VoIP can bring can be substantial, and big businesses gain the critical advantage of being able to easily connect multiple branch offices and telecommuting employees on the same system. VoIP technology also allows these larger corporations the ability to become more productive, by integrating existing corporate applications with the VoIP system, so that voice and data applications can work in conjunction. The daily maintenance that is required with a traditional system is also diminished. For example, the moves/adds/changes function is common in a large corporation, where the phone extension must be changed whenever an employee moves to a new part of the office, or when a new hire comes in. This can be costly with a traditional system, but with a VoIP system, this process is remarkably simple and can be done by any support staff in a manner of minutes.
Call quality is important to a business, especially one that has a lot of customer-facing employees, and this is always a concern when making a phone switch of any kind. However, VoIP is equal in quality to standard telephony, and is also capable of supporting high-quality videoconferencing over the same connection.
Lastly, security is a concern for many companies as well. Traditional telephony requires physical access to the wire to infiltrate a call, whereas VoIP, since it travels over the Internet, can be subject to the same types of attacks and hacks to which any other Internet application is vulnerable. A denial-of-service attack could deprive your company of phone service, or calls could be intercepted by a corporate spy. However, your IP network can be protected, and VoIP can be made to be as secure as any other type of telephony. Change your default logins, install a firewall, and conduct a VoIP security audit to ensure best security practices are being observed.