At MyITpros, we’re hearing more and more clients ask “Is hosted VoIP right for my business?” And the answer, as with many IT questions, is “it depends.”
VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol – has become increasingly popular over the last ten years among companies looking for an alternative to traditional voice communications. That’s not surprising. VoIP offers many benefits that traditional telephony doesn't (including the popular “find me/follow me” call routing feature). And now the conversation is shifting again, as hosted VoIP becomes increasingly popular for business phone systems.
But Is Hosted VoIP Right For You?
Well, it may be exactly right if your business requires a high level of business continuity, or has a lot of remote communication requirements. On the other hand, it may not be worth making the change if business continuity is not critical to your company, or if you rarely operate away from the office. And it will definitely be wrong for you under any circumstances if you don’t choose the right vendor.
Let’s take a closer look at these variables, so you can begin to see how they will apply to your decision about hosted VoIP.
Is Business Continuity A Must-Have Or A Nice-To-Have For Your Organization?
Business continuity is no doubt one of the greatest advantages of hosted VoIP. With a hosted solution, none of the equipment required for VoIP – other than the phones themselves – will be on your premises. Everything’s in the cloud. So if you suffer a catastrophic event like an earthquake or fire, your phone system will continue to operate as if nothing had happened. You won’t lose contact, the way you would if your on-premises system were out of commission for the week or so it might take to get back up and running.
If uninterrupted phone communication is essential to your business – if you run a sales organization, for example, or deliver critical services – hosted VoIP could be ideal. But what if it’s not essential? What if the unlikely prospect of an event that leaves you without phone service for a week is something that would inconvenience you, but not put you out of business? If that’s the case, then you might want to think twice about making a switch to hosted VoIP.
How Much Do You Rely On Remote Communications?
Having a hosted solution is also a good idea if your business model relies on remote communications. Maybe you have more remote workers than the average business. Maybe you don’t even have a bricks-and-mortar office, and everyone works remotely. In that case, hosted VoIP provides the benefit of enabling people to connect to your communications system no matter where they are or what kind of device they’re using to connect.
On the other hand, if your company mostly operates out of one office building, where employees work traditional business hours and then go home and stay unconnected, the remote advantage won’t mean much to you. Be sure to think it all the way through. If, for example, most employees work at the office during regular business hours, but executives are constantly out on speaking engagements or other activities that generate a lot of business, it may very well be worth it to keep them connected through a hosted solution.
Do You Have A Vendor You Can Trust To Deliver Hosted VoIP?
If you do determine that hosted VoIP is right for your business, choice of vendor will play a huge part in your success. As with any “as a service” offering, VoIP requires you to trust a third party to deliver system updates and other essential services to keep your system up and running properly; to secure your calls and data, and keep them safe from hackers; and to maintain business integrity so that you’re not without service because your provider has gone out of business. You need to be sure your vendor can be trusted in all these ways.
In summary, a decision to go with hosted VoIP should be made only after careful consideration of all the factors – including who will be providing the service to you. We’ve given a couple of examples here of what to take into account, but in reality, every situation is unique and should be evaluated individually. We’ve helped clients weigh the pros and cons to make the best decision for their business including evaluating different providers. If you have any questions about hosted VoIP and whether it’s right for your business, we’d be happy to talk with you.
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Bill McCharen, COO
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