WHY VOIP IS A BIG DEAL FOR BUSINESSES
One of the biggest benefits of VoIP to businesses is saving cabling and related infrastructure costs, due to the elimination of a completely separate voice cabling implementation. That can be a big deal, but as you dig deeper into the ramifications of running voice over data networks, you begin to uncover many business benefits that were previously untapped.
THE BUSINESS BENEFITS OF VOIP INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
■ Reduced cost of communications: Instead of relying on expensive tie lines or toll charges to communicate between offices, VoIP allows you to forward calls over existing WAN (including Internet) connections that are already paid for regardless of utilization.
■ Reduced cost of cabling: VoIP deployments typically cut cabling costs in half by running a single Ethernet connection instead of both voice and data cables. (This cost savings is only a factor realized in new construction or renovation of offices.)
■ Seamless voice networks: Because data networks connect offices, mobile workers, and telecommuters, VoIP naturally inherits this property. The voice traffic is crossing “your network” rather than exiting to the PSTN. This also provides centralized control of all voice devices attached to the network and a consistent dial plan. For example, all users could dial each other using four-digit extensions, even though many of them may be scattered around the world.
■ Take your phone with you: Cost estimates for moves, adds, and changes (MAC) to a traditional PBX system range from $55 to $295 per MAC. With VoIP phone systems, this cost is greatly reduced. In addition, IP phones are becoming increasingly plug-and-play within the local offices, allowing moves with little to no reconfiguration of the voice network.
When combined with a VPN configuration, users can even take an IP phone home with them and retain their work extension.
■ IP softphones: Softphones represent an ideal example of the possibilities when combining voice and data networks. Users can now plug a headset into their laptop or desktop computer or tablet and allow it to act as their phone. Softphones are becoming increasingly more integrated with other applications such as email contact lists, instant messaging, presence, video telephony, and rich-media collaboration tools such as WebEx.
■ Unified email, voicemail, fax: All messaging can be sent to a user’s email inbox. This allows users to get all messages in one place and easily reply to, forward, or archive messages.
■ Increased productivity: VoIP extensions can forward to ring multiple devices before forwarding to voicemail. This eliminates the “phone tag” game.
■ Feature-rich communications: Because voice, data, and video networks have combined, users can initiate phone calls that communicate with or invoke other applications from the voice or data network to add additional benefits to a VoIP call. For example, calls flowing into a call center can automatically pull up customer records based on caller ID information or trigger a video stream for one or more of the callers.
■ Open, compatible standards: In the same way that you can network Apple, Dell, and IBM PCs together, you can now connect devices from different telephony vendors together. Although this capability is still evolving, it will allow businesses to choose the best equipment for their network, regardless of the manufacturer.