Businesses communications technology is at the heart of every business but can be difficult to manage and expensive for SMEs. James Passingham at business communications provider, Foehn, thinks cloud and hosted telephony could be the answer
From sole traders to global enterprises, cloud-based services have had a big impact on business decisions. And any company thinking of installing a modern business communications platform like hosted telephony will be looking to the cloud for its answer. That’s because IP telephony and cloud services are actually the same – both are hosted by a provider and accessed over the internet or through a direct connection to the provider. Those same organisations, working in our connected world, also know that legacy telephony like ISDN - digital transmission over copper lines - can’t keep up with the demands of modern communications.
Legacy telephony lacks scalability, isn’t feature-rich and requires onsite tech support when it breaks down. It’s also loaded with hidden costs due to the private branch exchange (PBX) systems taking a fiscal chunk out of CAPEX and OPEX budgets through installation and maintenance. That’s why so many enterprise outfits are looking to cloud communications, or hosted telephony, to provide a modern communications platform that’s as adaptable as their business.
Simply, hosted telephony routes all business communications over a high-speed broadband connection to a provider’s hosted network and it can be setup over any existing telephony infrastructure. Instead of paying upfront costs to install PBX phone systems, providers host all communications and the only hardware costs are for IP phones. Providers can offer even soft-phones and hook up employees’ mobile connected devices, enabling companies to rolling out remote working from home or in the field. That cloud management also means there are no costs or tech support required for onsite servicing or maintenance - all costs are covered by a low monthly fee and priced on a per user basis. And because it’s hosted in the cloud, providers offer robust security back-up and 24/7 business continuity, enabling enterprises never to miss any mission-critical communications.
But before any enterprise hooks up to hosted telephony, they need to consider any potential disadvantages as well. Some companies worry that they lose control of their business communications if they outsource to a provider and quality of service (QoS) of voice calls has traditionally been a pain point. But these days, most providers do a great job of managing business expectations by providing robust support for their services. And QoS was more of a problem when there wasn’t enough bandwidth to support hosted telephony. Now many UK companies have access to superfast broadband, ensuring a much higher quality of service.
Hosted telephony also has to be always on. In other words, it needs a 24/7 power supply to work properly and business communications can only operate when a provider’s server is up and running. However, modern hosted telephony solutions have fault-proof redundant backups, giving enterprises a much more reliable service.
The benefits of cloud communications far outweigh the negatives and there’s so much more to hosted telephony than the cost-effective management and its’ simple to deploy nature. The technology is entirely bespoke and deployed at a user-level, making it supremely flexible and scalable to match very specific business needs. Whether renting or buying, that “pay as you grow” philosophy also means it can be scaled back to a couple of features or installed as a fully integrated cloud platform with feature rich applications like audio conferencing and missed call email alerts, allowing businesses to spend their time and resources where they’re needed.
From real-time conference management and company directories to multi-level auto attendants to plug-and-go simplicity, I think cloud-based hosted telephony has pushed the envelope for SME business communication into the next-generation.