It is testament to the usefulness of the telephone that we still rely so heavily on it to this day. When starting a new company, one of the first things to happen is a phone number is obtained for sales, and in-company communications. No phone, no business.
But will it always be this way? Technology, moving at the pace that it currently is, should swallow the old telephone system whole, and spit it out without so much as a second thought, right? Well, not exactly. The functionality of the phone remains a constant need in business, but the form factor and delivery method doesn’t.
So what could possibly provide us with the advantages we associate with the old telephone system, but bring in additional bonuses which would’ve been impossible via the old infrastructure? Step forward, VOIP.
VOIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, to those of you who prefer the more formal name, is an alternative to PSTN (or conventional telephone landlines) that uses the internet to route calls. The most easily recognised VOIP service out there is Skype, and with over 300 million monthly users, the chances are that most people have some limited experience using a VOIP service like this. But when it comes to business, many people don’t trust the idea of using VOIP over their stable, single-use landline. This type of attitude is changing though, and there are multiple reasons why.
Reliability has come a long way
Back in its infancy, Skype was a hugely impressive application that most people used when chatting to their family abroad. It worked well, but with noticeable hiccups from time to time. Audible artifacts, crackling, and morphing every few minutes was commonplace, with the occasional disconnection thrown in to boot.
Because of this, many formed the opinion that Skype was good enough to chat to the grandparents who live on the other side of the world, but not reliable enough for business. At the time this was correct. However, VOIP has come a long way in ten years. The business version of Skype (SFB or Skype For Business) does not run on the same architecture as the normal, free version of Skype and as such is way more reliable than even the excellent modern-day consumer app.
Equally, other VOIP companies have had to up their game in the last few years to keep up with the likes of Skype, and, as a result, in good conditions, pretty much every consumer VOIP solution now compares equally, or in some cases more favourably to the old PSTN lines.
Not only has the reliability of these new services improved, the quality has improved hugely too. Back in 2008, the quality of a VOIP call often dropped below desirable levels. Nowadays, if you have the bandwidth, your call should be crystal clear, and lag-free.
This is especially true for the paid VOIP services for business. Companies such as RingCentral will be only too happy to talk you through how to set up your phones and routers to get the best performance possible, and when you have everything set up correctly, call quality usurps anything a standard landline can provide.
The thing that really elevates VOIP above PSTN lines, is its functionality. Where your landline does one job well, VOIP is multi-faceted. Not only can you make one-on-one phone calls, but plenty of VOIP solutions allow you to create or join conference calls, send files, and video chat. Some also allow for integration with applications such as Salesforce, Zendesk, and Dropbox, so that your sales team can use the data to work out improvements across the department.
Couple this with the ability to make calls on a PC, tablet, smartphone, or special VOIP devices, and you have a service that does far more than your antiquated landline.
And here’s the real kicker, all this functionality generally comes at a lower cost than standard business lines. And while there are pros and cons to using VOIP, as time goes by, the cons are only getting smaller and the pros are only getting bigger.
So if you are thinking of starting a business, or are fed up with the high cost associated with business telephony solutions, VOIP is something you need to take a serious look at.