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Phone Systems Featured Article


January 16, 2008

Phone Systems

By Stefania Viscusi, Assignment Desk Editor


For businesses of all sizes, choosing a phone system to meet communications needs of today, as well as support future needs is important.
 
Businesses, regardless of size, must find phone systems that support their specific needs, and as a result are increasingly making a switch from traditional phone systems to phone systems based on Voice over IP (VoIP).

 
Because selecting the right phone system can become a daunting task, TMCnet went to  VendorGuru.com for answers to some basic phone system questions.
 
VendorGuru.com is a comprehensive resource that helps business leaders find the right phone system by comparing and evaluating different offerings. VendorGuru.com also offers information and expertise, so upgrading to a more advanced product is an easy and successful change for businesses.
 
What are some of the benefits of choosing a new phone system?
 
A VendorGuru.com whitepaper, "Four Keys to Choosing Your Next Business Phone System," explains, "choosing the right business phone system comes down to understand­ing how specific features can make your company more profitable."
 
Efficiency- Advanced phone features can streamline communication between employees, customers and team members.
 
International Reach- Phone systems that feature inexpensive international calling can reduce your expenses.
 
Work Space Flexibility- New phone systems can keep up today's on the go workforce. "By carrying a small phone or a decoder “dongle,” team members can simply “plug in” and conduct business from any work space. Alternatively, virtual PBX systems now work together with VoIP “soft phones” that can be accessed through an employee’s portable computer."
 
Disaster Planning- "If your customers count on you to always be there when they call, you should make sure your business phone system offers remote access and administration. “Disaster-proof” virtual PBX (News - Alert) systems run on hardware at secure data centers, usually located miles away from your company headquarters. Building these features into your business phone system budget can help save your customer rela­tionships during a crisis."
 
 
Are both large and small businesses benefited by a new phone system?
 
The "Four Keys to Choosing Your Next Business Phone System" whitepaper also notes," If your small business has big ambitions, it’s better to look for a phone system that can grow with you than saddle yourself with a hundred handsets for three employees. Likewise, a remote data center makes more sense if your business is leasing space that you might grow out of in the next few years. Either way, data from Intel (News - Alert) and other large companies confirms the kind of cost savings and productivity gains your company could enjoy from an updated business phone system."
 
Can you offer a quick list of phone system must-haves for any size business?
 
The VendorGuru.com whitepaper, "The Top 5 Telephony Solutions Your Business Needs Today," notes that advanced phone system functionality is setting new standards—allowing businesses to have increased productivity and a competitive business communications system. Here are five starting points:
 
Call Routing – Today’s call routing capabilities enable continuity in a fragmented business environment, where multiple locations and mobile employees are standard. Call routing allows for instant call forwarding and tiered call transfers allow a business to maintain a single area code for phone lines across the network–even across the globe.
 
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) -- Ensures no call goes unanswered and that each call goes to the right extension. The phone system can be configured to transfer calls among a list of extensions, distributing calls by priority, availability, or any other customized “rules” you specify.
 
Voice-Data Integration-- Encompasses a range of capabilities depending on your business needs. Business partners can integrate resources and information to facilitate collaboration. The linked phone-computer network also enables instant data entry, call recording, and more.
 
Remote Access-- With cell phones, PDAs, and laptop PCs there’s no excuse for being AWOL. This is a crucial feature for a mobile workforce. In addition to “follow me” routing, IP telephony providers allow remote access to the phone network.
 
Conferencing--. Advanced conferencing features allow even small businesses to take advantage of multiple-line calls, a shared web interface for collaborative projects, live web demos, and even web-hosted conference calls with unknown attendees.
 
How has VoIP influenced/increased business phone system changes and upgrades?
 
The VendorGuru.com whitepaper, "Switch to VoIP for All the Right Reasons" lists:
 
Cut Costs-- VoIP is a cost-effective solution for most businesses because it provides lowered long-distance bills, productivity gains, eliminates the hard costs of maintaining and managing a distinct network for voice communications, offers reduced cell phone costs and lowers entry costs.
 
Integration-- Voice-data integration saves money and increases productivity. VoIP integrates phone, email, fax, video, Web conferencing, and data applications into a single network, so it's possible to have more communications capabilities as well as helps compa­nies synchronizes operations with suppliers by integrating with their supply channels.
 
Advanced Call Handling-- Thanks to VoIP, advanced call center ca­pabilities are no longer just for the enterprise. Small to medium-sized businesses can also enjoy advanced features to control how calls are handled using a simple Web interface. Not only does this ensure that incoming calls are routed efficiently, but it also enables calls to be forwarded automatically to other extensions and multiple lines can remain open for conference calls.
 
Mobility
VoIP telecommunications ensure that work­forces remain connected even as they become more and more geographically dispersed. Employees sustain the same productivity whether they’re working from the office, at home, or on the road and callers can reach an employee at the same office exten­sion no matter where he or she is. Mobile users can also access the compa­ny’s data network for fax, email, transactions, or informa­tion purposes.
 
Real-time Conferencing
VoIP offers a better communications system for re­mote work groups, supporting real-time, secure audio and video conferences between multiple offices. In comparison, traditional conference calls are expensive, offer limited communica­tion features and no synchronized data sharing.
 
 
What is the greatest VOIP phone system benefit over traditional phone systems?
 
According to the "Switch to VoIP for All the Right Reasons" whitepaper, the key benefit of a VoIP phone system is efficiency.
 
"VOIP technology allows busi­nesses to integrate voice and data into a single network. It eliminates the need for a public switched telephone network (PSTN) or a clunky PBX switchboard. As such, VoIP is typically more cost-effective than traditional phone service. But more importantly, VoIP is efficient. The integra­tion of voice, data, and video opens up a world of opportu­nity for enhanced communication."
 
 
For more check out the Phone Systems channel on TMCnet.
 
 
Stefania Viscusi is an established writer and avid reader. To see more of her articles, please visit Stefania Viscusi’s columnist page.
Mark your calendars! Internet Telephony (News - Alert) Conference & EXPO — the first major IP communications event of the year — is just days away. It’s not too late to register for the event, which takes place in Miami Beach, FL, January 23–25, 2008. The EXPO will feature three valuable days of exhibits, conferences and networking that you won’t want to miss. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now!


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