Having reliable communications is a prerequisite for successful businesses all over the world – every missed phone call could be potential revenue down the drain. However, communication isn’t just about making sure your office telephone hasn’t been left off the hook and businesses are increasingly looking for more feature-rich telephony options.

The advantages of VoIP

Many firms are now transitioning their telephone infrastructure to a cloud-based voice over internet protocol (VoIP) system. Transferring all audio information digitally over the internet, VoIP offers businesses a number of benefits compared with other telephone systems. Firstly, from a financial point of view, hosted VoIP solutions can prove very cost-effective. With a low up-front cost, it can prove an attractive option for businesses that cannot afford to completely overhaul their existing infrastructure in order to improve their on-premise communications. Much like other cloud services, businesses are then simply required to pay a monthly subscription fee based on the number of users.

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However, there is no reason for businesses to feel limited by the number of users that they have agreed with their cloud VoIP provider. One of the main benefits of this approach to telecommunications is that it is easily scalable. If your business experiences rapid growth, for example, your additional employees can be easily added to the hosted VoIP system without disruption. If companies decide to go with their own on-premise VoIP system, it is likely that they will need to accommodate for future growth, at least in the short-term, which may not be the most efficient use of resources.

Moreover, VoIP offers businesses a number of additional features that may prove attractive. Employees may be able to create a list of contact numbers that will be dialled in the event that they are unable to answer their main work phone. It could be also be set so that their office phone could ring a few times, before the call is transferred to their smartphone. This could prove extremely useful for mobile workers that can’t afford to be missing calls because of their frequent movements. Some VoIP systems also come with voice mail transcription so instead of frantically scribbling down messages, employees receive an email with all the details included. For business owners, a cloud-based VoIP service can be used to monitor data usage regarding inbound and outbound calls and provide bandwidth utilisation information.

Moving Towards Unified Communications

For businesses looking beyond VoIP, adopting cloud based unified communications may be an option worth considering. Sometimes referred to as unified communications as a service (UCaaS), this approach combines all of a company’s communications over a single digital connection. According to recent research, the unified communication market is expected to grow from $15.12 billion this year to $24.88 billion by 2020 and it’s easy to understand this growth in the light of the many business advantages it provides.

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Similar to VoIP but more extensive, many UC solutions employ a feature known as Presence that lets clients and customers know the best way of contacting an individual at any given time, whether it’s email, mobile or any other form of communication. Unified comms also makes life simpler and more secure for employees. They can access all their communications from a single portal from any online-connected device and because information is transferred digitally, it can be encrypted to ensure that sensitive data does not fall in to the wrong hands.

a unified communications solution could offer a low-cost way of gaining a competitive edge

VoIP or UCaaS may not be appropriate for all businesses, particularly as they rely on a strong internet connection and enough bandwidth to support all of a company’s incoming and outgoing communications. In addition, businesses may want to leave some critical phone lines operating across a PBX system, as power cuts and internet outages will leave VoIP and UCaaS solutions inactive. However, if businesses are looking to increase the productivity and flexibility of their employees, a cloud-based VoIP or unified communications solution could offer a low-cost way of gaining a competitive edge.