The world of telecommunications is evolving away from PSTN services towards an entirely IP-based infrastructure. It will be some years yet before the transition is fully complete, however, and in the meantime it’s possible for businesses to gain some competitve advantage by switching to a VoIP phone service.
There are obvious advantages in terms of reduced calling costs (especially if your businesses is international) and in the flexibility to get the comms package you want and easily add extra users as your business expands.
The evolution of the international VoIP wholesale provider
12 years ago only around 10 percent of international call traffic was carried over IP. Expansion was slow at first as the early systems had issues with call quality, but in more recent years there has been a substantial increase in the volume of traffic carried using this method.
A major advantage of VoIP is not just its cost savings but in the technology itself. Because it turns voice traffic into data packets, they can be stored, copied and serached just like any other data. This is something that’s increased in importance thanks to legislation – such as MiFID II for the financial industry – which requires calls to be recorded and stored for compliance purposes.
The wider implication of this is that the phone service simply becomes an application. That means it’s easy to customise, to add new functions, and to tailor the service delivered to the individual needs of the business.
A significant plus to all of this from a user’s point of view, is that it isn’t actually any different to use. Gone are the early days when making IP calls needed a PC and a headset. Now they can be made from desktop phones just as you would a PSTN call. There’s the added advantage, however, that because it’s computer-based you can interface to other systems. So, for example, a customer’s details can be automatically displayed on-screen when a call is made.
This does, of course, need some investment in desktop technology, new handsets and so forth. This is, however, offset by the fact that there is no need to have a PABX on site as VoIP services are delivered from the cloud. This delivers savings in floor space, energy usage, maintenance costs and more. It also makes it much easier to change the system to adapt to evolving needs.
Because a VoIP system is for the most part software-driven, its adaptability is second to none. It will be able to take advantage of new technologies and services as they become available, making it a future-proof solution that will handle whatever needs the business might throw at it. Even adapting to technologies that may not yet exist.
It can also be customised to suit the needs of the organisation. The front end menus can be easily changed to take account of special offers or holidays, feature phones can even be made to display the company logo on their screens.
A key competitive advantage inherent in VoIP is that of virtualisation. In other words, it doesn’t matter where an employee is located, their calls can find them. Whether you practise hot desking or you have staff who are out on the road regularly, a call to the VoIP system will find them on the same number whether they’re on a mobile phone or working from a different office. All of this is seamless to the customer calling in or being called. What’s more, all the features of the system such as voice mail, diversion of calls, front end menus, etc are carried along with the number too.
It also simplifies things when changes need to be made. In a disaster scenario, for example, it becomes much easier to switch all of your calls to a different location using the same numbers and with no loss of functionality – within minutes. On traditional systems, carrying out similar rerouting could take days or even weeks.
As VoIP becomes ever more mainstream, it will be increasingly difficult to distinguish it from the rest of a company’s IT systems. Intelligent systems will make it possible to link knowledge bases with communication systems to make workers more efficient and seamlessly deliver the information they need to do their jobs.
Linking into databases of employees and emergency planning systems, it will become possible to automatically launch conference calls in response to a crisis, locating all of the key players wherever they are and on whatever device they have to hand.
VoIP can be seen as simply a new means of making phone calls, but to do so would be to ignore its potential. Used imaginatively as part of a business transformation strategy, it can help deliver a significant competitive edge.