VoIP: what’s in it for you?

With all the hype around VoIP it’s easy to be sceptical about its benefits. But they are there. Here are VoIP’s key benefits:

Call savings. Because carriers can push more IP calls over a given wire than they can conventional calls VoIP calls are cheaper. If you’re calling from one VoIP handset to another calls are free – even between offices states or to other countries.

Single network. Businesses that aren’t using VoIP have two networks – one for voice and one for data. Each runs over its own wiring requires differently skilled technicians to keep running smoothly uses different equipment and generally can’t talk to the other. With VoIP calls are carried alongside business data over a single converged network that’s cheaper to install run and manage.

Management benefits. Normal PABXes are big bulky computers that require highly trained experts to reconfigure. That means adding moving or reconfiguring a new employee’s extension requires an expensive visit from a field technician. In a VoIP environment adding a new user is as simple as plugging in a phone; the VoIP server takes care of the rest.

More flexible call forwarding. Since VoIP calls are just normal Internet data streams they can be routed to any device in the world that has an IP address. That means desktop phones mobile phones WiFi phones laptop computers PDAs and even ordinary Web pages can all receive phone calls.

Unified communications. If VoIP was all the rage a few years ago attention is now shifting to unified communications – the act of combining VoIP video email instant messaging business applications and other types of communication into a single service. You’ve probably heard of receiving your voicemails in your email inbox but unified communications takes this a step higher by integrating voice into every business function you can think of.

As with any technology the full benefits of VoIP become apparent the more you use it. If you roll out VoIP within your company make sure you surround the rollout with an ongoing user interaction program so you can learn about the new uses your employees are finding for the technology.

Think laterally develop clear policies for the use of innovative solutions and above all don’t take a narrow view of the technology. Mileage may vary but odds are that VoIP – and the unified communications capabilities it has enabled – will change your business for the better.

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