What can VoIP do for you?

What can VoIP do for you?

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services are beginning to make a major impact in the world of business, with many firms deciding to take advantage of the many benefits they provide.

Some surveys are suggesting that as many as seven out of ten businesses in the UK will be making use of hosted VoIP technology by the end of 2013, a rapid growth. But is it right for your business, and what can the technology do for you?

Trefor Davies, a council member of the Internet Telephony Service Providers' Association, believes that VoIP is now becoming a common feature in many businesses, with employees using the technology every day to conduct their work.

He suggested that, while it is still not always the "primary line" in terms of telecommunications, it is featuring increasingly. Mr Davies believes that the technology will quickly become a major force in the business world.

The service is becoming more popular due to the improved efficiency and productivity it can offer businesses, something that many organisations are looking for in today's difficult economic climate.

One of the largest savings that can be made when using VoIP is line rental, as businesses have been paying the same amount for years for their phone services, but VoIP has the potential to reduce bills by as much as 20 per cent.

"Of course they still need to pay for the bearer, i.e. the underlying broadband connection or Ethernet line that carries the VoIP calls, but these are often already in situ," Mr Davies explained.

The move towards Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) provides a potential to revolutionise the service as it could eventually provide businesses with speeds of up to 300 Mbps and could change the way some firms work. FTTC is currently being trialled in some regions across the UK, with the technology expected to be rolled out further in the next 12 months.

A recent study by Vanson Bourne for Telappliant found that the reduction in overall telephony costs provided by the implementation of VoIP was vital to a number of companies, with 68 per cent of business leaders who responded citing vast money savings.

The most important factor when implementing VoIP technology is the flexibility it offers, as it can be scaled up or down as much or as little as necessary. There is also a range of features that can be added to VoIP services, which are not possible with traditional landlines, boosting the range of activities companies can perform.

It is also possible to make free on-net calls and there is no need for a PBX on each site, which reduces maintenance dramatically.

As well as cost savings, giving employees the freedom to work away from the office was also highlighted as a major benefit. The technology allows an easy and clear form of communication between those in the office and those working at their own home. This can boost collaboration on projects and cut out any conversations going back and forth. 

For businesses that have more than one premises, VoIP can be crucial, as it means the business can portray the image of one office to customers by transferring calls seamlessly. Organisations can also have one number range across all sites, providing a local and national presence, while also reducing the need for a PBX at each site, which obviously reduces costs.

VoIP calls to other company sites are free and can be a huge saving if the business has offices abroad. By using the service, users can effectively take their telephone number with them whichever location they are in. This means that homeworkers for example, can take calls as if they were in the office from their home without customers knowing any different.

Another undervalued benefit of VoIP is disaster recovery. In the UK, heavy rainfall and snow often cause widespread road and rail chaos, a problem that can easily be overcome when using hosted VoIP services. A business can easily redirect any calls to another site, meaning that employees can work from home if they need to without a reduction in productivity. 

The process of transferring calls is seamless thanks to a web portal, meaning that customers have no idea that a site is down, allowing the business to function as it always has and offer people the service they are used to from the firm.

Some businesses see the implementation of VoIP within their organisation as a time consuming and expensive experience that may not offer too many benefits in the long run and is unreliable.

However, this is far from true, as installing the technology is simple to do and the benefits far outweigh any negatives, as VoIP offers substantial cost savings, a boost to flexible working practices and enhanced customer service.