Voice-over-IP has been used by businesses for over a decade now. While you would think that the demise of the landline and the widespread availability of Internet connectivity would have made it the go-to form of telephony, a significant number of businesses have stubbornly clung to public switched telephone networks.
According to Software Advice, 24 percent of small and medium-sized businesses still rely on plain old telephone service. Other businesses, 8 percent to be precise, use cellphones exclusively. Relatively speaking, VoIP as a voice service does have the heftiest portion of the SMB market at 36 percent. However, it's clear that many SMBs haven't made the switch yet. In fact, the report summary noted that among all American businesses big and small, the FCC estimates that only 15 percent use VoIP.
Regardless of the size of your business and the industry you're in, it may be time to consider making the switch to VoIP. But in case you still need convincing, here are six good reasons why Internet telephony is the way to go:
This made the top of our list mainly because it was at the top of yours: Software Advice found that scalability was the most cited reason for exploring VoIP as an option. Unlike POTS, VoIP works by transmitting audio as data packets over the Internet. This makes it much easier not only to accommodate a larger number of lines, but also to add more lines on an as-needed basis. For SMBs, this is especially important given the imminence of business growth.
"Long-distance calls are significantly cheaper and, in many cases, free."
Another big hang-up for POTS users is the expense associated with the service. VoIP tends to be more affordable for several reasons. First, for the vast majority of modern businesses, Internet is a service that's already in place. This means, among other things, that calls are not made over a dedicated wire connection, but rather travel via an already existing connection: the company's network.
Not only does this happen at no additional cost, it also means that long-distance calls are significantly cheaper and, in many cases, free.
It's not always the norm for a business to think of security as a factor in voice communication, but it certainly should be. Sensitive information that can include passwords, payment card numbers, bank accounts, Social Security numbers, contact information and more may regularly be shared over the phone. This is true for nearly any industry, including retailers, restaurants and other brick-and-mortar businesses, but it's especially the case for banks, government agencies, health care organizations and some call centers.
According to the TechTarget contributor Steven Taylor, POTS is far easier to hack than VoIP. Even with the inherent security of VoIP, Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) encryption ensure that data remains indecipherable to potential phone tappers and that user privacy is maintained.
Where VoIP really distinguishes itself is in its collaborative capabilities. Because audio conferencing can now occur over an Internet connection, callers can join from nearly any location as long as they have the conference credentials. This is a huge benefit for companies that do business with clients in multiple parts of the country or even across the globe.
When integrated with a unified communications platform, screen sharing capabilities can also be utilized in this meeting, which makes it far easier to share visuals such as presentations and spreadsheets. During the conference call, participants can also send each other supplemental material such as hyperlinks with instant messaging. This can come in handy when you need to communicate with a co-worker on the call without a client knowing.
More than ever before, talented professionals are opting to work outside the office. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce would like to have the ability to work from home at least some of the time, according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. In order to accommodate this desire, many businesses are relying on unified communications and, more specifically, mobile VoIP.
Unlike POTS, VoIP can more directly integrate with a computer in the form of a softphone, which is software that can be installed on a compatible device. With it, users can make VoIP calls from a laptop, tablet or even a smartphone as long as they are connected to the Internet. This is especially useful for companies that have bring-your-own-device policies in place. Employees can continue to communicate with one another securely using a device of their preference. Contacts, call history and voicemails are all accessible across platforms, and with a voicemail-to-email feature, users can have voice messages sent directly to their inbox.
Needless to say, this would be impossible with a traditional phone system.
6. Extremely useful bells and whistles
Unlike traditional telephones, VoIP systems have incredible finesse. Multifunctional keys, large graphics displays, presence and auto-attendants are only a handful of the bells and whistles that come on top of high-quality voice across platforms. Many VoIP offerings also provide intercom capabilities, which can help improve office security, especially in large corporate parks that allow visitors to come and go freely.
Another very useful feature of VoIP is E911. Historically, one of the drawbacks of VoIP is that because it was an Internet-based service, the address emergency responders tied a 911 call to wasn't always accurate. Not to mention, hotels, big businesses and educational institutions that may have many phones across a campus wouldn't provide information about what suite, office number or classroom a call was being made from. For especially large universities and enterprises, this could be a problem.
With E911, however, this is a non-issue. In addition to providing first responders with detailed information about where a call was made from, this feature also acts as an emergency notification system. Designated personnel receive an alert via email, or in the form of a pop-up notification on their working device, allowing for fast remediation of emergency situations.
Still not convinced? Learn about some of the many other benefits of VoIP here.