BT Openreach will permanently switch off the UK’s old analogue telephone network (ISDN and PSTN) in 2025. Combine that looming deadline with the increasing number of workers who need to stay fully connected to the office while travelling, or collaborating with dispersed teams, and you have very strong incentives to look at VoIP.
Despite Return to Office efforts in some organisations, much of the UK workforce still enjoys a remote or hybrid mode of working. Unlike the early pandemic days, just relying on a mobile phone doesn’t cut it.
If you haven’t already done it, now is the time to really assess what your business needs. How do you want to communicate with clients, business partners and your internal teams. Do they have different expectations and requirements; are you able to meet that with your current system and what will that look like in 2025?
Do your due diligence, assess and map your requirements; VoIP in the cloud is leaps ahead of its on-premise origins. Make yourself familiar with what VoIP systems can offer that you don’t have now, as well as the functions you already use.
Understand how different teams and functions use voice in your organisation, literally who is doing (wants to do) what; what do their call made/received patterns look like?
In the past on-prem PBX systems had an advantage in that they were almost entirely within your control, however most of these systems will fail to scale or provide adequate functionality to remote workers. In contrast, cloud based systems have been developed and improved with a dispersed workforce in mind. The vendor is fully responsible for the infrastructure, availability and operational integrity of the system, so that’s an immediate win. Deferring upgrades because of budget constraints no longer impacts your business. You will pay a monthly fee for a system that is kept up to date with the latest features and security. Off set that against the rolling cycle of capital outlay to bring an on-prem system up to scratch, and then the slow degradation over time before your budget allows for the next upgrade.
Mobile workers will inevitably use their mobile phones as well as laptops to communicate with clients. Some softphone clients are better than others, some will give you similar functions to your desktop client. Do your research and identify what you need, and which systems meet that expectation.
Consider the main headliners:
Cost: You aren’t buying physical infrastructure and won’t need dedicated staff to manage your phone system.
Flexibility: Keep your staff connected with all of the functionality they would have in the office, wherever they are and whoever they are working with.
Integration: Many VoIP systems offer their own chat and video conferencing features as well as integrating with the better know collaboration apps. Assess both.
Scalability: Business rarely operates in a straight line; you may need to flex up for a project, or to support a specific client, and then scale back again. VoIP gives you that flexibility and adjust costs accordingly. You may even choose to bill some costs back to the client.
Features: A good VoIP system will offer more features than we can possibly refer to here, so it makes sense to do your research and understand what’s possible, what’s relevant to your business and most importantly the impression your voice system will have on your customers.
Management Information: By virtue of VoIP being digital systems, the scope for good management data is vastly increased. This will help you analyse how your business, and your customers are using the system and where and when to make adjustments.
Unified Communications: Your customers and staff are likely to use multiple forms of communication, SMS, Video, chat etc. You’ll want to capture that data and use it as a pipeline for your CRM and other business systems, so factor that into your decision making.
The boom in remote work and the stimulus to the cloud telephony industry, means that small and midsize businesses now have access to enterprise functionality; that’s good for you and good for your customers.
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