This article is the first in a three-part series on hosted phone systems for business. The cloud is not for everyone, but when certain criteria are met it can be a wonderful solution. Our goal in this series is to educate you on the factors to consider when looking at a cloud-based phone system for your business.
Unified Technologies is a unique, trusted partner because we offer solutions that make 1) Business Sense, 2) Financial Sense, and 3) Common Sense. In this series, we will apply those three filters to the subject of cloud phone systems and help you make an informed decision that’s right for your organization. In this first post, we will walk you through the business sense of choosing a hosted phone system.
First, What is the Cloud?
The term “the cloud” is a bit ambiguous and refers to many applications that you probably already use on a day-to-day basis including, Netflix, Skype, Office 365, YouTube, etc. When we use the term “the cloud” in this series, we are referring to a “hosted” or cloud-based phone system.
The “cloud” can easily become the shiny new object that many businesses feel they must adopt in order to stay current. The cloud is not inherently the best choice depending on the overall technology strategy of your company. Many business owners feel it is their only option in order to stay current, but this can be based on misinformation and a misunderstanding of the telecom options that are currently available.
Customer Experience is Changing the Market
Let’s face it, running a business is not easy and the further we get into the 21st century, the demands to improve the customer experience is higher than ever before. The driving trend to improve the Customer Experience or (CX) is shaping the way we communicate and do business, not only from a customer’s perspective but also how our employees engage with our customers and collaborate with one another. It is easy to see why companies are strategically looking for the next communication advantage over their competition. The market is demanding a flexible and mobile workforce that is productive whether in or out of the office, so as to improve customer satisfaction and create raving fans.
A Consistent Cloud Strategy
When we hear the words, “flexible and mobile workforce” we automatically think that the cloud is the only option available when really it is one option of many to choose from. Though it is a great option, the cloud may not be the best choice depending on your current technology strategy. For example, if your two-year goal is to eventually move all your technology to the cloud, i.e. your storage, email server, collaboration software, etc. – choosing a hosted phone system is a fantastic option. The inverse of that is true as well if you are planning to have an on-premise technology strategy, then choosing an on-premise phone solution is probably going to be your best solution because it aligns with your overall technology goals.
Business Advantage of a Hosted Phone System
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan
We hate to think about it, but we have to plan for it. If disaster strikes, what is your recovery plan? With a cloud-based solution, if your building is destroyed, damaged, or goes off-line for whatever reason, your data is protected in the cloud. If you can find the internet either at home or at a coffee shop, you can still access your phone.
- Flexible Licenses for Scalability
A distributed workforce with a large geographical footprint in some cases makes for a great cloud application. Scalability is easy with a hosted solution. Setting up a license is as easy as turning it on and off. Let’s say you need to open a remote office location with only 3 employees but need to shut down the office 6 months to a year later. It is as easy as turning on 3 new licenses and switching back off when it is time to close up shop.
- Simpler Maintenance
With a hosted phone system, software upgrades are built into the contract, making the maintenance much simpler.
Business Disadvantage of a Hosted Phone System
- Limited Support
From a service perspective, you can set up the system and confirm everything is working, but when you call for support, you will be routed to a remote service rep that doesn’t know your business. Because of this limited service, it is highly recommended that you have personnel with technical acumen and a basic understanding of Telecom language to support your hosted system.
- QoS is reliant on IP Connection
Another disadvantage to a hosted phone solution is the fact that your call quality depends on the connection to your internet service provider. A direct connection can be expensive and connecting over the public internet can introduce voice quality concerns. Hosted phone systems need internet access to operate and if there are any outages within your area, you could be affected or off-line and unable to receive calls.
Business Sense Conclusion for Hosted Phone Systems
The great news is that a cloud-based phone system is not an all or nothing application. With our experience, we can integrate and design hybrid solutions that provide the best fit for your business. Maybe it is a purely hosted deployment. Maybe it is an on-premise system with a cloud application overlay. Or maybe it is something different altogether. The most business sense for your company is that your phone system improves your customer experience and grows your business. Your cloud strategy will follow after that. If you want to consult with one of our trusted advisors to make the best decision on your business connectivity needs, let’s start a conversation