Monday, August 25, 2008

Is VoIP Really A Good Choice For Business Communications??

Many businesses today are asking themselves this question ... "is VoIP (voice over internet protocol) really a good choice for my business's communications?" This isn't a question to take lightly. You need to understand what the potential benefits are before jumping to any decision. Then determine if they are substantial enough for your business to take that leap.

What must be realized is that IP is simply a signaling protocol or "method". This enables the intelligence from which advanced features are derived to exist in the network itself, and in a manner that is much more accessible to the end user. This results in a number of benefits to an organization.

A) Features = Productivity -

VoIP makes many more features available in a more accessible and flexible manner and at a lower cost. Of course, just having 575 features available to you doesn't help you. In fact it likely will overwhelm you and you won't bother to learn about any of them.

The key, therefore, is for organizations to examine the many features that VoIP makes available and innovate ways to incorporate them into their business processes. This point cannot be overstated.

Think of a computer. Would a company suddenly replace Microsoft Office with some other word processing and spreadsheet suite without having training sessions for employees? Further, would they replace Microsoft Office just for fun, or would there need to be compelling reasons, such as better features that would enhance productivity? Of course, the answer to both of these is "no".

The same principal must be applied to VoIP. Organizations must invest the time to study what VoIP offerings make possible. They then must have a well-formed cross functional team spend time exploring how these new capabilities mighht be applied within various work functions in order to benefit the company. Only with that approach will a company be able to determine ....

(1) What is the reason to implement VoIP,

(2) What are the elements of a VoIP solution that are desired,

(3) How will VoIP be implemented in each functional area,

(4) What will the results be and how will they be measured.

I could go on for a long time with examples of VoIP features and how they can improve business processes to impact bottom-line results. One simple example I will provide is what is called the "Find-Me, Follow-Me" feature. This enables you to simply make a couple of clicks on your PC before you leave the office, and have your office line forward to your cell phone. WIth this, clients and fellow employees never have to even know what your cell phone number is. This has two main results. First, clients and employees don't waste time dialing the desk phone, but then when voicemail answers they hang up, then call the cell phone. Plus, if the cell phone voicemail answers they often will leave a message there, then call the desk phone again and leave another message there. Extra call costs and time wasted. Second, companies are beginning to realize that a huge part of their cell phone costs are due to employees calling other employees' cell phones - often when that employee is in the office - or at another company location. The point of cell phones is so employees can be in touch at any time. This VoIP feature (which has many other iterations beyond what I have described) enables clients and employees to only dial a single phone number and know that they will reach you directly, whether you are on your cell phone, working from home, or at another company location. Now THATS productivity and cost savings in multiple areas.

B) Security and Business Continuity -

Due to the enhanced level of control and visibility that VoIP provides the end user, an organization can truly "see" and control all aspects of its communications. They'll control the phone numbers, where they route/ring to, what networks they travel over, and so forth. Security organizations can control and monitor communications. For Business Continuity, in seconds you can have your entire call center operation switch to an alternate call center, or have the calls dispatched to employees at their homes.

C) Lower Costs -

In the short term VoIP offers cost savings over traditional land line phone use (e.g calling costs, particularly international); for the long term planning VoIP offers seamless connections to remote locations which creates an entirely new paradigm when planning future expansions and personnel moves.

When all is said and done VoIP does offer advantages over the standard POTS (Plain Old Telephone System). Whether those advantages make business sense when applied to your company ... is up to you to determine. Do that instead of jumping into a "me too" frenzy ... and you'll make a smarter business decision.

For help in going through an evaluation of whether VoIP is a good choice for your business ... and in making the most cost effective vendor selection if it is (both hardware and service) I strongly recommend you take advantage of the NO COST advice available via Business VoIP Solution

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