Moving to a hosted service provides a number of important financial, operational and business benefits, and helps you build a more flexible organization.
A hosted VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is an advanced telecommunications system that has its infrastructure based ‘in the cloud’ rather than on your premises. A service provider owns, manages and maintains the infrastructure in a secure data centre. You pay a monthly fee to use the service.
1. No more infrastructure
Because a service provider now manages the infrastructure, you can make significant savings. You won’t have to use your capital funds to purchase new equipment or upgrade your existing system.
You can also free-up space, because you no longer need a PBX telephone system on site. The only equipment you need is a high-speed Internet router to link your internal network to the service provider and suitable phones.
2. Lower support costs
The service provider takes care of infrastructure maintenance and support within the monthly fee. You no longer incur the costs of maintaining your own system. This can be important because VoIP systems require specialist support skills that may not be available in your business.
As well as infrastructure maintenance, the service provider can also take care of user support and moves, adds and changes. You benefit from lower support costs and your IT team is now free to focus on more strategic tasks.
3. The latest technology
Moving to a hosted VoIP service means that you won’t have to upgrade your system to benefit from the latest version of VoIP. The service provider is responsible for upgrades, deploying the changes to all your users.
You won’t need to purchase new software licences or upgrade your system, and you won’t have to use your IT team to install new versions of VoIP across the business. Most important, you can benefit from the latest VoIP technology.
4. Greater reach
A hosted system increases the reach of your business. Any user can access the system via an Internet connection. That means you can provide your branch offices or other remote sites with access to the same services and features that are available at head office. Location is not important because the Internet has global reach.
If you run an export business, for example, you can provide overseas distributors or subsidiaries with VoIP services. As well as improving communications, you will make further savings because calls between connected sites are free.
5. More flexible working arrangements
This greater geographical reach gives you the opportunity to introduce more flexible working arrangements. You can offer employees the option of working at home, full time or part time. Because they can access full VoIP services wherever they are located, they can work productively at home or in the office.
You can hire part-time or contract staff to supplement your workforce and give them access to the VoIP service. That way, they can act as employees for your company and take on specialist tasks or handle overflow work, such as out-of-hours call handling.
6. Making your business more mobile
A hosted VoIP service can give your mobile employees the benefit of full communication services on the move. A software application known as a softphone gives smartphones, laptops, tablets and other mobile devices access to VoIP services via an Internet connection.
Call costs are reduced too because VoIP calls travel on a device’s data network at a lower rate, bypassing mobile providers’ standard call tariffs.
For employees who spend most of their time in the field, mobile VoIP helps them to remain in touch, collaborate with colleagues easily and use VoIP’s data capability to access customer information and transmit reports.
7. Room for growth
If your business grows, you will need more phone capacity. With a system based on your premises, you would face the delay and disruption of a system upgrade, and you could miss important business opportunities.
With a hosted system, you can increase or reduce your capacity on demand. Simply contact your service provider and additional capacity will be available immediately. The change can be permanent or temporary. If you run a seasonal business, for example, you may only need additional capacity at certain times of the year.
Hosted VoIP ProvidersThere are a range of hosted VoIP providers on the market. We've rounded up some of the most highly regarded, award-winning providers below:
- RingCentral - Includes voice, fax, text, conferencing, and HD video meetings. Prices start at $24.99 per month per user.
- Mitel - Includes voice, video, and collaboration tools. Pricing is available on a customised basis.
- Vonage - Business plans include features such as mobile phone integration, music on hold, click to call me, and much more. Plans start at $39.99 per month per extension.
- 8x8 - Basic VoIP features, as well as advanced features like extension dialling, auto attendant, ring groups, call recording, and internet faxing. Pricing is available on a customised basis.