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Smart small business owners look to non-traditional solutions to help them gain an advantage over their competitors, either by reducing costs or by improving workflows to gain efficiency. An often-overlooked area for many businesses is voice communication. After all, the telecom industry changes slowly, and it can oftentimes be very expensive to change phone systems, to say nothing of the difficulty of working out the bugs on the new system with the system installer. Many business owners want to get 10-15 years out of their investment, and can’t imagine an advantages being worth the headache and expense of a major change.
While it is true that traditional phone systems and connectivity have not changed much in the last 20 years, newer alternatives that offer more functionality at lower cost have emerged in parallel to the legacy technology. A lot of industry acronyms are used, but the broad term for these parallel technologies is Voice over IP, or VoIP. VoIP refers to any voice communication occurring over computer networks, as opposed to legacy phone networks. VoIP is definitely newer technology, and like any technology, it requires expertise to connect and maintain. Everyone has a very high expectation for voice quality on a phone call, and voice traffic is much less forgiving than most traffic that occurs on a computer network. However, when a VoIP system is installed and maintained by a team of engineers who understand IP networks, it is every bit as reliable and much more feature rich than traditional phone systems. The result is quality voice communication all the while saving the business owner every month on dial tone costs. One of the exciting features of a VoIP system is flexibility. Here at McLane Intel, we have employees working from basically anywhere with an internet connection. Our phone system is able to follow us wherever we go, allowing us to use our computers or cell phones as business phones that are indistinguishable from our regular lines to anyone we call. Traditional phone systems can only dream of the options VoIP can provide for working around modern workers schedules and demands. We also know that we can scale up as much as needed when we grow as a company. Traditional phone systems often require a “forklift” replacement of the system once you pass a threshold based on number of users or lines.
Another great feature of VoIP is survivability. We run a 24 hour call center, which means the ability to answer the phone is part of the promise that we keep to the companies that trust us to handle 100% of their IT needs. A couple of years ago, we had a half day power outage that could have ground our business to a halt, preventing us from serving hundreds of customers. We immediately enacted our Business Continuity plan, a large part of which was to redirect our call flow to an alternate path, allowing us to seamlessly serve our clients, many of whom were impacted by the same outage that hit us. If we had been on a traditional phone system, we would have been hamstrung, and would have had a lot of apologies to make for our failure to meet our commitments.
For most businesses, saving costs on voice services comes at a distant second place to reliability or quality. Thankfully, you can have both, if the system is designed properly. Since voice can now run on the same networks as computers, you can save a lot of money every month by bundling voice services with your bandwidth you area already buying. You can also consolidate hardware purchases with your normal IT network refreshes for equipment like switches and infrastructure like cabling. Maximizing your savings can be complex, as there are a lot of moving parts and the marketing literature is not always clear on what you are getting. The key is to have a partner that can help you navigate the complexity of the VoIP landscape and help you make the best decision for your business.
At McLane Intel, we make IT (including VoIP) work for you.