Hosted Voice Services: 5 Implementation Considerations
If you are a small to the medium business owner or lead an enterprise, you have probably heard about hosted voice services. VVoice Over Internet Protocol VoIP has been the talk of the town ever since its creation. Voice over internet protocol works differently from the analog phone call system. In the phone call system, a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) connects one phone to another. The audio is then generated with the help of electrical signals. This is now a traditional approach. VoIP on the other hand transfers voice data over the internet, then translates and sends the data to PSTN.
A fast reliable internet connection forms the basis of the VoIP system. Hosted voice services is a cloud-based service in which a third party uses the Voice over Internet Protocol VoIP system to connect a business’s telephonic technology over the internet. A company’s telephone technology is hosted off-site by a service provider. The organization or business has to only pay a fee monthly to the hosted voice services provider.
Many businesses and organizations are moving towards hosted voice services in order to reduce the cost of enterprise telephony. Hosted voice services help businesses cut down the cost of installing, purchasing, and then having to maintain telephone technology and PBX (Private Branch Change) for hosted voice services. This enhances the productivity of the IT members as well as the employees when using hosted voice services.
Here are some key points to ponder about hosted voice services, if you are planning to invest in hosted voice services. The following considerations apply to both SMBs and enterprises, but each could easily warrant separate analyses in future briefs.
NECESSARY ANALYSIS BEFORE APPLYING FOR HOSTED VOICE SERVICES:
- Level of IT expertise.
This is one of the first things to evaluate when considering hosted voice services, whether for part or all of your voice services. When businesses start to deploy VoIP and IP telephony, they need to follow the path of network convergence. Some businesses adopt hosted voice services gradually, and some elect for a wholesale "forklift upgrade" to make a complete migration. In either case, this new network environment may prove too challenging for the existing IT expertise. There are many examples of why this would happen, but the outcome is the same. Once the business recognizes they lack the in-house skill set for these new technologies, the hosted voice services option starts to make more sense.
- IT investment and priorities.
While the above consideration relates to how able IT is to manage VoIP, this relates to how willing the business is to do so. Even though a business may have the requisite IT expertise to handle network convergence, this may cause them to take a harder look at the economics of continuing this investment given the option to outsource most of this to a service provider who is more than capable, and at a lower cost. Another scenario where hosted voice services would be useful would be where the business is not prepared to scale back its IT investment but simply have higher strategic priorities. In this case, the move to hosted voice services is just good business, leaving them to focus their IT resources on more valuable functions.
- The overall motivation for choosing hosted voice services.
This consideration shifts from the realm of IT to the bigger picture decision-makers running the business. Many companies - especially SMBs - are motivated by the overall need to reduce costs wherever possible. If the economic benefits of hosted voice services are clear, this may be reason enough - and possibly the only reason - to go with hosted voice services. Businesses that have had long histories with their incumbents are well aware of the high costs of telephony relative to IP-based alternatives, so this can be a key consideration for hosted voice services. On the other hand, some businesses will see a limited economic advantage with hosted voice services, but instead, see a stronger strategic rationale to outsource operations that cannot provide a competitive advantage. In these cases, the consideration for hosted voice services will have more to do with how the business relationship will benefit the company as opposed to simply lowering telecom costs.
- The perceived role of telephony.
This consideration speaks to how a business views telephony in the context of everyday operations. Businesses that run conservatively and are not comfortable with new technologies will see hosted voice services simply as a less costly and/or more practical way to manage telephony. They can still get value from hosted voice services, but only in a limited manner. Businesses that take a broader view of hosted voice services will be more communication-centric than voice-centric and look to this solution as a way to improve on what they had before. Not only will host voice services give these businesses a richer telephony experience, but they can pave the way for more integrated communications capabilities that bring voice, data, and video together in ways that were not previously possible.
- Trust in the cloud.
The extent to which a business embraces hosted voice services will often depend on how much they trust the model. There are varying degrees of trust for outsourcing anything, partnering with a hosted voice service provider, as well as relying on cloud-based services. The cloud is emerging as both a complement and an alternative to hosted voice services and reflects the growing trust businesses have here. Hosted voice services VoIP provides all the features a call center provides, including conference calls, HD call quality, advanced call analytics, etc. Another advantage of hosted voice services is you can use a business phone service app and use your office number to make calls on the go! Trust is defined on many levels - reliability, scalability, quality of service, privacy, security, and storage - just to name a few. Businesses need to take all these into consideration especially if they are new to hosted voice services. They may choose to start with basic service and build trust or jump in deeper to take fuller advantage of new capabilities right away.