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(As seen in Phoenix Business Journal)
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell spoke the first words ever transmitted over a telephone, and forever changed the way people — and businesses — communicate. Today, over 140 years later, a phone call is still a critical component of day-to-day business all over the world. However, traditional landline telephone technology, which uses copper wire to transmit voice signal (just like back in Bell’s day), is now giving way to a technology that 17th century inventors could never have imagined: Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
VoIP technology, sometimes referred to as IP telephony, broadband telephony, internet telephony, or broadband phone service, converts a user’s voice into a digital signal and delivers it to the recipient over the internet as data, completely bypassing the need for old-fashioned copper phone lines. The impact this has on a business in terms of cost savings and functionality is tremendous.
Why are there significant savings with VoIP?
As of 2015, nearly 40 percent of small businesses reported they chose VoIP over other phone solutions. The most common reason for migrating from a landline to VoIP is financial. First, there’s the setup fee to consider. A business using landline technology needs a PBX system in order to utilize common features like extensions, voicemail, call transfers or an automated menu system.
The installation fees for a PBX can be thousands of dollars. The cost to install a VoIP system is negligible, and it comes with all of these features (and many more) included.
With VoIP, a business has the option to buy the equipment outright and manage the service in-house, or lease the equipment from a service provider and let the provider manage and host it in the cloud, foregoing a large up-front purchase.
Now let’s compare the monthly service fees. For typical landline phone service, a business can expect to pay around $120 per line, per month. VoIP, on the other hand, typically saves a company 50 percent (or more) in monthly fees. Because VoIP transmits voice signals as data over the internet, the cost to operate the service is lower than it is over copper landlines. International call rates are also significantly cheaper with VoIP.
Additionally, VoIP is far more scalable than landlines, which are limited by the number of lines that are connected at initial setup. Adding more traditional lines requires another installation and a hardware upgrade. VoIP, on the other hand, relies only on an internet connection, allowing for an unlimited number of lines. This drastically reduces setup fees and maintenance costs.
Most VoIP providers offer tiered service plans to meet the needs of small, medium and large companies. The bottom line: a VoIP system can be easily adjusted to accommodate growth and expansion.
Functionality for today’s workforce
Like much of today’s workforce, VoIP technology is inherently mobile. Employees have the flexibility to use a mobile device as an extension of their office phone, whether they’re visiting clients locally, working remotely or traveling abroad.
Cloud-based VoIP offers added flexibility in how a business manages its phone system, too. Administrators can login to a VoIP account from a computer or mobile app and manage features like call routing or forwarding on the fly.
The technological advances don’t end there. Today’s VoIP systems can integrate with software like Google Voice and transcribe and deliver voicemail via email. VoIP is also capable of connecting contact information to a conversation, enabling users to send follow-up attachments to the other party.
One of the more recent VoIP innovations is the ability to integrate with a company’s CRM program. When integrated, the CRM can produce all relevant customer information on a service rep’s screen as soon as a call comes in. Customer service reps can read, edit and save notes, review open tickets or closed issues without having to bounce from one application to another, drastically reducing call time.
With so many benefits to a company’s bottom line, VoIP appears to be here to stay. In fact, Future Market Insights predicts that over 200 billion corporate subscribers will be using VoIP globally by 2020. And most states in the U.S. have reduced or eliminated their regulatory oversight of wired telecommunications, signalling that the rapid adoption of VoIP has shifted the allocation of resources away from traditional landline telephone technology.