Upgrade to IP: Using Technology to Do More for Your Business

As a business owner, you understand the importance of keeping your business software programs current with the latest updates and upgrades in order to keep your company competitive. But how long has it been since you updated your phone system?

Phone systems are often seen as tools that simply provide dial tone to your desktop phones and therefore don’t need upgrading — until something goes wrong. Just like an upgraded computer system, an upgraded phone system can do wonders for your business, allowing for more effective communication with your employees and customers.

With today’s advanced unified communications (UC) technologies, your phone can be a powerful business asset as a multi-tasking tool when combined with your computer systems. Technology that was previously only available to large enterprise businesses is now available to the small or medium business at an affordable price point. Investing in a software-based IP PBX makes a lot of sense, not only for new companies buying a phone system, but also for companies who already have a PBX. An IP PBX delivers significant savings in management, maintenance and ongoing call costs, as well as many other business benefits, such as reporting capability, intelligent call routing, queue management and ease of changing hunt/queue groups to improve productivity and customer service.

If you haven’t upgraded your phone system within the last five years, here are several reasons why you should consider upgrading to an IP PBX now.

Easy installation and configuration: an IP PBX runs as software on a computer and can leverage the advanced processing power of the computer and user interface, as well as Windows features. Anyone proficient in networking and computers can install and maintain an IP PBX. By contrast, a proprietary phone system often requires an installer trained on that particular proprietary system.

Simplified system management: an IP PBX can be managed via a web-based configuration interface or a GUI, allowing you to easily maintain and fine tune your phone system from a single location. Proprietary phone systems have interfaces that are often designed to be used only by phone technicians.

Significant cost savings: with an IP PBX, you can easily connect phone systems between branches and use a VoIP service provider for long distance and international calls to significantly reduce your telecommunications expenses.

Reduced phone wiring: an IP system makes adding or moving of extensions much easier. You can connect desktop phones directly to a standard computer network port and/or install softphones directly on the PC. In new offices you can completely eliminate the extra ports to be used by the office phone system.

No vendor lock in: IP PBXs are based on the open SIP standard so you can mix and match any SIP hardware or software phone with any SIP-based IP PBX, PSTN gateway, or VoIP provider. In contrast, a proprietary phone system often requires proprietary phones to use advanced features and proprietary extension modules to add features.

Scalability: proprietary systems are easy to outgrow. Adding more phone lines or extensions often requires expensive hardware modules, or even an entirely new phone system. An IP PBX can easily handle a large number of phone lines and extensions, so you can simply add more phones to your network to expand.

Better customer service and improved productivity: an IP PBX helps enhance customer service and improve employee productivity by integrating phone functions with business applications. For example, the ability to ‘screen-pop’ customer records automatically makes for a better customer experience and cuts costs by reducing time spent on each caller. Outbound calls can be placed directly from Outlook, removing the need for the user to type in the phone number.

Cost-effective feature sets: most VoIP phone systems come with a rich feature set, including auto attendant, voice mail, ring groups, advanced reporting and more. Since an IP PBX is software-based, it’s easier — and less expensive — for developers to add and improve feature sets.

Greater mobility: with an IP PBX, calls can be routed anywhere in the world based on SIP protocol characteristics. Users can easily ‘hot desk’ — move from offices to office/desk to desk based on the task at hand — by taking their phone from one location to another without the need for extensions to be re-patched to the new location. Telecommuters and remote workers can simply use their SIP softphone to answer calls to their extension, just as they would in the office.

Ease of use: all features are easily accessible via a user-friendly Windows GUI. In addition, users get a better overview of the status of other extensions and of inbound lines and call queues via the IP PBX Windows client. As customers become more demanding, businesses need to evolve to meet their expectations to stay ahead of the competition. If your business is growing and your current phone system is struggling to handle the corresponding call-volume, expanding your current system could be just the fix you need, as well as a great opportunity to build more business relationships with those customers calling in.

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