VoIP is one of the latest technologies creating a buzz…
Benefits of VoIP Technology
Every now and then a new technology comes along that completely changes the way we play, work or think. Some affect a small segment of the population – such as consumers or business users – while others have a much broader effect. Businesses have experienced quite a few such technology upheavals in the recent past like the Internet, cloud computing, smart mobile devices and VoIP to name a few.
When something new comes along, a lot of people get excited about the extra capabilities, features and what is possible with this new tool. For businesses however, the value of any technology lies in the practical benefits it can confer rather than theoretical possibilities. To put it differently, organizations generally care about the business case and ROI more than they do about the exact feature set. The same applies to VoIP – perhaps even more so since the older PSTN technology was still working perfectly fine when this new standard came along.
What can VoIP do for my business?
While there are some people who are interested in both the practical benefits and the technical features, most managers and business owners may not have the time or the inclination to fully understand the latest technology. In the majority of cases, when someone asks “what is VoIP?” what they really want to know is what exactly VoIP can do for their workflows, business processes or employees.
Misunderstanding this question is perhaps the most common mistake made by IT teams, professionals and other technology workers. Generally speaking, the immediate response is to rattle off a laundry list of the latest features or to try and explain the technical differences between VoIP and the PSTN. The reality is that for any business to adopt a new technology, the concerned department has to make a solid business case and show that it has a positive ROI in an acceptable timeframe.
Benefits of VoIP technology
It is no surprise that one of the first bullet points in the list of advantages concerns price. It is often the most important factor concerning deployment. Sometimes it is a question of the technology being too expensive to afford and at other times, it may simply not be worth it for the business. The beauty of VoIP is that it is actually less expensive to implement than most new systems while also reducing monthly expenses on an ongoing basis. There is practically no business in the world that does not want to reduce costs, regardless of how successful it is. This is a clear benefit to the business and easily understandable.
Quality and reliability
There is often a direct relationship between price and quality and it’s a good reason why many managers continue to suspect VoIP call quality. Many people still harbor doubts that VoIP can produce toll quality at inexpensive rates. It is that at this point that they become interested in reading about the underlying technology, so that they can understand this conundrum.
Since VoIP routes voice calls over the Internet, HD call quality can be achieved as long as certain conditions are met – Internet speeds, audio codecs, bandwidth, good quality hardware and QoS configuration. Once again, this is a pretty straightforward business benefit.
This is a business benefit whose usefulness immediately becomes apparent, much like lower prices or better quality. Most companies have long since gotten used to the fact that they are locked into annual or multiyear contracts with their phone operator. It is a standard way of doing business and has been for quite some time. VoIP does away with all of that. Even though some providers offer discounted rates for annual commitments, contracts are not a requirement for using their services.
Clients are free to leave and switch providers if they can get a better price or features that meet their requirements at any time. Not all the advantages of VoIP translate directly into practical benefits for every organizations but they often provide indirect benefits.
Interoperability is a term that often makes IT professionals very happy but it means very little to business managers if they don’t know how it can help the organization. The primary advantage of interoperability is that it makes it easier to integrate and administer systems together. This in turn means that the organization saves costs related to maintenance (implementing middleware to ensure systems can talk to each other etc) as well as man hours spent in routine tasks. If only one person is needed to maintain the VoIP system as opposed to three people, it frees up valuable human resources.
Many vendors advertise that their systems can accommodate anywhere from a handful of users to thousands. A small business owner with 10 employees who plans on doubling headcount over the next five years may not immediately see the value for their business in this scaling flexibility. Nevertheless the practical benefit for the business lies in the fact that users only need to pay for the resources they consume. So if the business grows faster than planned, the vendor can accommodate that. Conversely if the business needs less resources for any reason, they can easily remove users, numbers or lines that they don’t use anymore.
The presence of advanced features or capabilities can be a double-edged sword. Clients may simply think that they won’t use all of the features being offered, so there is not much of a reason to upgrade to VoIP. But given business trends and changes in technology, something that is considered a premium on luxury feature today may very well become a necessity for companies tomorrow. Organizations that switch to VoIP as early as they can are better poised to benefit from new functionality as and when their requirements change. The agility and flexibility offered by VoIP can be difficult to quantify but that is no doubt that these qualities are needed for any business to survive in today’s economic landscape.
By its very nature, VoIP is extremely flexible just like the Internet. Its feature set can be modified and adapted to the needs of consumers, small organizations, entrepreneurs or multinational corporations. So no matter which service you use, VoIP will provide numerous benefits for your business.
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