Disrupting the business phone industry
Innovative new technologies can shake even the most mature industries to the core—and business phone systems are no exception. Over the past decade in particular, we’ve seen competing technologies sending shockwaves through seemingly rock-solid industries. The publishing, automobile, music, taxi, and retail industries have all undergone drastic changes thanks to emerging technologies.
What’s so innovative about the business phone?
The office phone has undergone several changes, but its basic function remains: transporting audio information between two or more endpoints. It’s the means of transporting that information that’s changing. Like so many other innovations these days, business phone systems are upgrading from analog to digital, from cable to the Cloud.
There are undoubtedly several reasons to trust in familiar technology. And perhaps fiscally, it makes sense to stick with a recent investment in a new on-premises phone system. However, years from now, that system will fail. It’s the nature of technology to age out and require a replacement—an upgrade.
For your next upgrade, here are 21 reasons to consider a business phone system in the Cloud.
#1. Minimize capital expenditures.
A traditional phone system typically comes with a hefty upfront price tag. These capital expenditures include servers, phones, network upgrades, and implementation costs. Moving your phone system to the Cloud isn’t as demanding budget-wise. If you already have a business-class data network in place, then most of your work is done. In most cloud phone system installs, the only capital expense is purchasing the IP phones.
#2. Use the equipment you want.
With a premises-based phone system, you’re usually locked into using certain vendors and their proprietary equipment. On the other hand, a cloud phone system is commodity or standards-based. That means you’re free to use equipment from a variety of different vendors.
#3. Better utilize company resources.
The current communications setup in most offices require two separate lines: one for voice, one for data. Moving your phone system to the Cloud allows you to consolidate those lines into a single network. This frees up your lines, which you can then use to increase bandwidth, maintain as a backup, or eliminate altogether. Combining your voice and data lines also capitalizes on your “stranded” capacity—the bandwidth delivered by your provider that you don’t consistently use. Transmitting voice over your data line boosts traffic over that connection and better utilizes all that wasted capacity.
#4. Simplify budgeting with predictable monthly telecom expenses.
Traditional phone systems typically come with unpredictable costs. Your costs change to accommodate organizational changes, utilization patterns, and obsolete or aging components. The problem is, you don’t always know when one of these expenses is going to hit. A cloud phone system eliminates the guesswork, allowing you to accurately predict your telecommunications charges from month to month. The cost is usually based on the number of users, with unlimited local and long-distance minutes baked into the price. That way, utilization levels don’t impact your monthly costs. Other variable costs also don’t come into play, like software upgrades, licensing, and hardware maintenance.
#5. Enjoy simple, transparent pricing.
Most on-premises systems nickel and dime you for every feature. That’s because in many cases, the features aren’t native to that system. To support the latest features, you have to modify your existing solution with added hardware, software, or licensing costs. With a phone system in the Cloud, all features integrate natively into the system. Leading cloud providers can offer all voice features for a single, transparent price, without any per-feature add-ons or hidden fees. This frees businesses to expand without having to debate whether they can afford to add necessary features.
#6. Eliminate the risk of obsolescence.
It’s the circle of life—hardware ages and has to be replaced. But updating equipment is difficult and pricey. If you’re worried your system hardware is reaching its expiration date, consider what life would be like without that concern. With a cloud solution, the responsibility for keeping the infrastructure updated shifts from the customer to the service provider. Software upgrades also fall under the provider’s responsibilities, allowing you to enjoy up-to-date technology without dedicating budget and resources to maintain it.
#7. Provide greater system reliability.
It’s inevitable that customers will want to call you with questions. When that happens, your company’s accessibility, over the phone or through other channels, becomes linked to your brand’s overall reliability. That becomes an issue with an on-premises solution. Those systems are called a “single point of failure.” If it goes down, your employees and customers don’t have any recourse. No calls can go in or out until that single point of presence is fixed. A phone system in the Cloud bypasses that issue by hosting its service in datacenters across the country, and even across the world. When one datacenter’s service is interrupted, your provider can easily reroute calls through other datacenters. You don’t notice that there’s a problem because your voice service continues without interruption.
#8. Access feature-rich options.
A traditional phone system typically comes with a limited feature set. Each feature requires specific hardware components and system configurations to work, which usually adds to your cost. In the Cloud, you can access a wide range of business voice features without all the hassle. Leading providers offer unlimited features—like voicemail boxes, auto attendants, dial plans, conference bridges, and more—without any additional charges to your basic monthly price.
#9. Accommodate remote workers.
Using an on-premises phone system naturally limits your ability to capitalize on the advantages offered by the remote workforce. Without advanced system setups and expensive service upgrades, these systems generally lack a direct connection to your workers on the go. A business phone system in the Cloud eliminates these technological boundaries. Because these systems are based in the Cloud, it can route phone traffic to any connection with an Internet connection. It’s just as easy to route calls to your worker’s home office as it is to their office phone. Additionally, voice features and functions associated with the office can be used remotely, including voicemail and call transfers to other business extensions.
#10. Enhance employee mobility options.
Moving your business phone system to the Cloud makes mobility an option for all your employees, not just your remote ones. Employees across the board are increasingly using their personal devices for business tasks, a trend called BYOD (bring your own device). You can leverage this trend to your advantage with the Cloud. With mobile apps, your workers can control features, permissions, and voicemail using their personal mobile device.
#11. Receive automatic, seamless upgrades.
Having the latest technology and software can give your business a much-needed edge. But upgrades can also come with a steep learning curve. They’re usually accompanied by painful downtimes, debugging sessions, and more costs. Unfortunately, with an on-premises system, you bear all the responsibility for these upgrades. You pay for it, you make it happen. A cloud phone system shifts that responsibility to the provider. And because the voice service is software-based, it’s easier to roll out new updates and features at a faster pace.
#12. Implement the system with ease.
Deploying a cloud phone system is relatively simple compared to an on-premises install. On-site installs can take months and are hardware, cost, and resource-intensive. Cloud-based systems require very few physical components and often deploy within days. Deployment can take place all at once or incrementally, according to what works best for you. And once the system is in place, it’s simple to add new users and offices.
#13. Roll out innovations without waiting in line.
To update an on-premises phone systems, the provider has to enable test the upgrade at each client location. That leaves you stuck on a waiting list before you can get your hands on the latest features. A cloud solution doesn’t make you wait. New updates and features are available to all clients simultaneously.
#14. Gain instant access to the latest voice features.
As mentioned above, rolling out new innovations on an on-premises system ties up valuable time and resources. Cloud phone system providers make it easier for you. They’re responsible for delivering new features through automatic upgrades made during low-usage times. That means you get all the latest voice features without the time, hassle, or added costs.
#15. Rely on best security practices.
One advantage on-premises systems claim is that you’re in control of your system’s security. But is the hands-on approach to security really effective? Especially when on-premises environments tend to invite more cyber attacks (an average of 61.4 attacks) than a cloud system (only 27.8 on average). Cloud phone system providers are free to specialize in cloud security, providing best practices like encryption, security protocols, and active service monitoring.
#16. Consolidate your communications into one service.
Most cloud services come as part of an overall Unified Communications (UC) suite. A UC suite will generally include voice, video, mobility, SMS, presence, and even faxing—all under one roof. It’s easy to simplify and reduce your costs when you receive all your channels from one provider on a single bill. Consolidating also leads to better, more consistent communications with co-workers and customers by allowing them to use their preferred channels.
#17. Integrate with your critical applications and devices.
You gain a significant customer service advantage when you move your business phone system to the Cloud. A cloud solution gives you call-center-level functionality without the expense and operating demands of a call center. This functionality includes integrations designed to enhance customer interaction and simplify supervisor operations. Because cloud phone systems are software-driven, they’re easier to integrate with leading customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like Salesforce.
When a customer calls, an integration can call up that customer’s account information onto a screen. That way your employees can reference key account information and better serve the caller. Information from the call can be collected and entered as well. This helps you keep up with customer preferences and decisions, thereby improving future interactions with that customer.
#18. Support multiple locations without taxing resources.
The challenge with multiple locations, at least when you have an on-premises system, is that you need an independent system for every location. This is expensive, and integrating the systems can be difficult, complicating simple business functions like extension calling and transferring calls. A phone system in the Cloud allows all your locations to plug into the same virtual service via the Internet. This enables extension calling—even between offices in different geographical locations. It also gives the appearance of “one big system” to callers while preserving location-specific routing, hold music, and more.
#19. Simplify multi-location management.
Managing system settings across multiple locations can also be tricky if you’re navigating between different on-premises solutions. With a cloud phone system, you can centrally manage all your communications, regardless of their location, through a single browser-based portal.
#20 Control your phone system without physically being in-office.
When you have an on-premises system, you usually have to be in-office to make any moves, adds, or changes. Cloud phone systems don’t require you to be physically present in-office to change system settings. If you’re away from the office, but have to make an emergency change to the phone system, you can do so using the online administrator portal. You’re free to make updates anywhere. And it’s so simple that you can do so without the help of a technician or third-party provider.
#21. Shift the risk to the provider.
Looking at the differences between an on-premises system and a cloud system from a cost perspective doesn’t tell you the whole story. In any TCO comparison, you also have to look at the risk involved in each system. With an on-premises phone system, you carry all the risk. There’s the upfront costs, the constant maintenance and updating, and the time and resources you’ll invest in it. When something breaks, you’ve got to scramble to get the phones working again. Security falls on your shoulders, and once the system ages out, it’s up to you to replace it. That’s why so many companies are outsourcing those risks to cloud service providers.
It’s never been easier to move your business phone system to the Cloud.
Maybe this isn’t the year to move your business phone system to the Cloud. But if not, you can bet the day is coming when you’ll be considering it. That’s because the Cloud is the new normal for businesses of all sizes. By the end of this year alone, the typical IT department will maintain less than half its platforms (40 percent) on-site, with the rest residing in the Cloud. Chances are, you’re already operating partially in the Cloud. In the future, your phone system will be a natural next step.
Still have questions about what it means to move your phone system to the Cloud? Check out our whitepaper, Raise Your Business to New Heights with a Cloud Phone System.