The business communications world has been undergoing profound transformation in the past 20 years. With the advent of Voice over IP (VoIP), we’re communicating more than ever over data networks. Traditional telephone networks are falling out of favor for various reasons. Innovation in the marketplace has been quick, and it’s changing the way we work today. If you’re in the market for a business telephone system today, you need to know that the choice of a telephone system can significantly impact your organization’s efficiency for many years to come. With everybody and their grandma pitching cloud based telephone systems today, I think a little education is in order.
This is a particularly fascinating subject for me, simply because of Inacom’s long business track record. We started providing computers in 1982, and as data networks became more important in business operations we picked up structured cabling services. Well, what do you do with those technicians to keep them busy? In 1995, we picked up Avaya as our telephone system vendor. Back then, there was little consideration that telephone systems would be transforming into data services. But thanks to our strong background in IT Services, we ended up uniquely positioned to provide expert installation and support for VoIP telephone systems like Avaya’s IP Office and Cloud Office being offered today.
In this blog post, we delve into the question on many business owners’ minds: “Should I buy a cloud-based telephone system?” Let’s explore the advantages and considerations associated with embracing this modern communication solution.
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Understanding Cloud Telephony vs. the Plain Old Telephone System (POTS)
Cloud telephony is a modern communication solution that leverages internet technology to transmit voice data. Unlike traditional POTS, which relies on physical copper lines, cloud telephony operates in a digital environment. With this approach, businesses can enjoy enhanced flexibility, scalability, and reduced on-site equipment, as the heavy lifting is shifted off-site.
Hey…this sounds a lot like “Hosted PBX!”
You’re not wrong. Cloud became the magical buzzword marketing term of choice, and now it’s everywhere. Cloud is just another way to say that you’re renting capacity on somebody else’s computer. Cloud based telephone systems are hosted on somebody else’s computer. Hosted PBX is a telephone system running on somebody else’s computer. They’re the same picture. But I digress….
In contrast to a cloud solution, Traditional POTS (those “phone lines” you’re used to renting from Verizon) is a legacy telephone system that relies on analog signals transmitted through copper lines. This traditional approach often requires businesses to invest in and maintain on-site equipment, including Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems. The limitations of POTS include reduced flexibility and scalability, making it less adaptable to the dynamic communication needs of modern businesses.
Why Cloud Based Telephone Systems can be a Better Option
The cloud telephony approach proves to be a superior choice for businesses seeking agility and cost-effectiveness. By eliminating the reliance on physical infrastructure and on-site equipment, cloud telephony reduces operational complexities and maintenance costs. Additionally, the digital nature of cloud telephony allows for seamless integration with other collaboration tools, fostering a more efficient and feature-rich communication environment. This adaptability positions cloud telephony as a forward-looking solution for businesses ready to embrace the future of communication.
The Benefits of Cloud Telephony
Minimizing On-Site Equipment
One of the key advantages of opting for a cloud based telephone system is the reduction in on-site equipment. Traditional phone systems often require substantial hardware installations, leading to increased maintenance costs. With cloud telephony, the heavy lifting is done off-site, allowing businesses to streamline operations and focus on core activities.
In the past, we’d build up physical systems and install them at the client’s office. The systems would take various “cards” or modules to enable the desired features. Sometimes we’d end up in awkward situations such as when you wanted to add a new extension, but that module was full. You’d then have to come out of pocket to buy another 8 ports of capacity, but you only needed 1 extension. This upgrade is really going to hurt the wallet. Sorry!
We’d also end up replacing a handful of telephone systems that were damaged by lighting strikes or surges from the electrical grid. While we always do our best to ground equipment, little will survive a direct strike of lightning. Thank the local cable company, and their bad habit of not grounding their copper lines coming into your office. Luckily, insurance will usually cover this claim, and you’re just out the policy deductible.
Low Cost Implementation
In a traditional PBX, you’re purchasing equipment, installation, and configuration services. You’ll either pay cash up front (thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars), or you’ll lease your telephone system over time. Typically you’d do a $1 out lease to own, as telephone systems are pretty durable equipment with relatively long service lifecycles. You’re on the hook to pay maintenance and replacement costs for a PBX telephone system.
With a cloud based telephone system, you’ll pay a deposit for the calling service, buy the endpoints (unless there’s a promo to cover the cost!), and perhaps some labor to prep your site for the new calling solution. Much of your configuration, maintenance and calling service fees (What you pay Verizon) are covered by the per-extension monthly service charge. You’re essentially in a FMV lease, and your up front costs are relatively low.
Cost-Efficient Calling Services
Say goodbye to hefty long-distance charges that often accompany traditional phone systems. Cloud-based telephone systems offer cost-efficient calling services, allowing businesses to make national and international calls without breaking the bank. This cost-saving aspect can significantly impact the overall operational budget. If you haven’t shopped your phone services in a while (some businesses have been on the same plan for a decade or longer!), you might see enough savings here to pay for your new telephone system.
Growing Your Communication Infrastructure
Scalability at Its Finest
One of the standout features of cloud-based telephone systems is their inherent scalability. As your business grows, so can your communication infrastructure. Whether you’re adding new employees or expanding into different locations, cloud telephony seamlessly accommodates growth without the need for extensive overhauls.
Grow your Business Physically
Opening a new office? Maybe you want to work from home more often? Your endpoints (telephones) can easily be installed anywhere. Plug in your phone into your properly configured data network, and it will join your hosted phone system automagically.
In addition, your endpoint (telephone) doesn’t even have to be a physical device any longer. Software can do the job for you. If you’re ultra-mobile, your cell phone can also integrate with your cloud based telephone system. If you don’t move around too much, your laptop can also be your telephone. How’s that for flexibility?
Easy Integration for Seamless Communication
Cloud based telephone systems not only scale effortlessly but also integrate seamlessly with other collaboration tools, when an API is available. Apps like your Customer Relationship Management software can be triggered just an answering your client’s phone call. We call that a Screen Pop. Little actions like this over the course of time can be a significant productivity and quality of life boost for your staff.
Making the Decision on a Cloud Based Telephone System
In conclusion, the decision to invest in a cloud based telephone system hinges on various factors, including your business’s size, growth trajectory, and communication needs. With benefits such as minimized on-site equipment, cost-efficient calling services, scalability, and easy integration, the case for embracing cloud telephony becomes increasingly compelling.
If you think a cloud telephone system makes sense for your organization, we’d love to talk. Inacom offers Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral. We can get you set up anywhere in the United States. And if you’re located on the Delmarva Peninsula, we can even take care of your physical premise work, as well. Give us a call at 410.543.8200 to learn more.