The nation's small businesses are always looking for cost-effective ways to manage their operations. Many of these organizations are abandoning traditional office phone systems in favor of small business VoIP networks.
What Is VoIP?
Most people have heard of small business VoIP but may not know exactly what it is. They know it's some kind of digital phone system but don't understand the mechanics.
A small business VoIP uses an organization's existing internet connection to transmit voice the same way the network transmits data. The call is routed through VoIP service providers to get to the destination just like traditional telephone calls are routed through the phone company central offices.
VoIP is often less expensive than standard office phone systems, especially for long distance calls, and has a lot more flexibility. The VoIP handset carries the same telephone number regardless of location, so users can plug into the system from any location to make or receive phone calls. This portability is not just limited to the office building. An employee on travel can plug the handset into the hotel's internet connection and automatically have calls routed to that phone.
How Hard Is It To Convert to VoIP?
To the average small business, VoIP may seem like an esoteric technology that will be difficult to adopt. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Company telephone equipment doesn't become obsolete. Although there are dedicated VoIP telephones, the system can be used with traditional telephones. The operation of the phone system is the same as a traditional system. Customers, vendors and other incoming callers dial the number just like they did before. They won't even realize the telephone system is changed. Outgoing calls also operate the same way and your staff won't need to learn new technology just to make a phone call.
The only thing you need to learn is how to take advantage of the new found freedom and flexibility the business voip phone system offers. The One Number Follow Me feature that you can specify who and when people could reach you at which phone number; The Voice Mail that sent to your cell phone so you can see it and listen to it at the right time; The Auto Attendant that directs the calls to the right person at different hour of the day; Employees working from home, even at different state, etc...
What Are The Downsides to VoIP?
There are few limitations to small business VoIP over traditional phone systems. The biggest concern is if your internet connection goes down you lose your phone service as well. And the internet connection may have lag that isn't noticeable in normal web surfing or downloading but makes back-and-forth conversations slow and frustrating.
To overcome the limitation, many business VoIP phone systems provide legacy phone ports so you can still connect a few traditional phone lines to the system. The system will automatically route the calls to the best available one according to the pre-configured rules. So when the internet connection is down, the phone service can still be available.
For businesses that can not afford to have a dedicated IT personnel to keep their network always at its best shape, many business VoIP phone systems again provide an alternative by using traditional phone network in house, and only using the Internet/network to provide VoIP service when it is necessary. - Like connecting VoIP service providers or employees work at home using IP extensions. So even the in house network connection is somehow affected by virus or malfunctioned equipment, the phone system can still function well.
Overall, small business VoIP has far more advantages than disadvantages and some experts predict it is only a matter of time until analog phone systems go the way of the rotary dial.