You’ve no doubt heard all the talk about cloud-based services. Moving applications “to the cloud” for cost savings and manageability is all the rage these days. The first hosted application was probably Website Hosting, which allowed a business to have a reliable online presence 24/7 without the hassle or expense of having their own web server. As the most mature of the hosted services, Website Hosting enjoys an almost 100% adoption rate by business .. it just doesn’t make sense to host your own website these days.
Over the years, other hosted applications have taken off and matured. Applications that you’d typically see hosted in the cloud would be Email (Google Apps), CRM (Salesforce.com), ERP (NetSuite), File Storage (Box.net), Online Backup (Axcient) and a ton of other innovative and inexpensive solutions. Telephony is not immune to this trend, and the maturation of Voice Over IP technologies along with increasing bandwidth availability for business in urban markets has really pushed Hosted VoIP to the forefront of many businesses’ choices when replacing legacy equipment.
Just as vendors such as Salesforce.com are making it hard to ignore the benefits of Hosted CRM, so are Hosted PBX vendors making a great case for having your telephony in the cloud. The benefits are extensive :
1- Staff Empowerment
A Hosted PBX puts a lot of power into the hands of the end user. Move your phone to a new location without having to have an administrator involved. Re-route your extension to a cell phone or even your cottage. Take control of the number of rings before a caller goes to voicemail. All of this and more is configurable by the end user.
2- No Capital Expenditure
A Hosted PBX requires little to no capital expenditure. There is no premise-based PBX equipment to buy and house within your office. Even the VoIP Phones, network equipment and activation fees can normally be rolled into one low monthly business lease.
3- No Technological Obsolescence
Purchasing a Premise-Based PBX locks you into the features and capabilities of that equipment, for however long you have it in service. Typically the life cycle of a Premise-Based PBX is extremely long .. typically 5 to 8 years before you replace it. Will the features and functionality of the system still meet your needs in 5 years? What new technology will be powering your competitor’s phone systems by that time? Hosted PBX providers constantly add new state-of-the-art features and capabilities to their offering and roll them out to customers as they become available, without the need to upgrade or swap out equipment.
4- Branch Office / Road Warriors / Home Office
Easily and inexpensively connect employees in other cities, provinces or countries on the same phone system allowing easy extension-to-extension dialing from a single phone number. Install a phone in your home office which mirrors your office extension. Work from the road as effectively as you would in your office using your smartphone.
5- Agility / Scalability
Hosted services such as Hosted VoIP allow you to grow or contract as needed. Pay only for what you need and easily right-size your investment on a month-to-month basis. No need to worry that your current solution will only scale to a certain size before having to be replaced. Hosted services can scale infinitely so long as you have enough bandwidth.
6- Simplified Vendor Management
With traditional phone systems, administrators must manage multiple contracts and invoices with the telephone company for phone lines, maintenance contracts with 3rd party vendors and often per incident move, add and change fees with phone system technicians. With a Hosted PBX, you have a single point of contact for all service requests and invoices, reducing costs and simplifying management of the system.
7- Cost Predictability
With simple per user pricing, budget planning is both simple and accurate. Even advanced features such as Auto Attendants, Ring Groups, Call Queues and Recording are available as a-la-carte add-ons, allowing you to pay only for what you need.
8- Reliability / Failover
Cloud-based Hosted VoIP solutions are engineered to be fault tolerant and resilient. Add to this the fact that VoIP phones will work wherever there is an internet connection, and you have pretty amazing business continuity and disaster recovery options built right in.
9- Security and Risk Management
Hosted PBX vendors are specialists in their industry. They understand and mitigate the risks involved with Hosted VoIP through the use of automated tools and checks and balances, the likes of which a company operating their own PBX would never have the resources to implement. Fraud management (i.e.: someone gaining access and making toll calls on your account) is taken very seriously and Hosted PBX vendors usually have multiple safeguards in place to guard against activity such as this.
10- Easy Moves, Adds, and Changes (MACs)
Easily add new staff extensions and voice mail boxes without costly service calls. No need for a truck roll in the age of the internet.
So, Why Hosted VoIP? I think you can agree that there is an extremely compelling case for Hosted VoIP in business, and it will probably be only a matter of time before people think of Premise-Based PBX systems like they do their old Web Servers .. expensive, unnecessary and redundant.
Thinking about Hosted VoIP for your business? Have a look at our free guide, entitled Top 10 Things To Consider When Choosing Hosted PBX.