What are the benefits of a hosted phone system?
To understand the benefits of a hosted phone system, we need to know about the 'cloud'...
The cloud's often a mysterious entity that few people fully understand. So here's our (very) simple definition...
The cloud basically refers to a solution or service that's delivered over the internet. And it's the same story with services like hosted phone systems (i.e. hosted PBX). Instead of having the physical hardware or service on-site (like with traditional computing or PBX telephony), it's all in a secured central data centre. That's the simple bit!
Cloud technology has revolutionised the way in which our IT infrastructure works, especially for businesses. Accessing software couldn’t be easier than it is with the cloud, but that’s not all it’s good for. Businesses now have access to a fully-functional IT infrastructure without being charged an arm and a leg upfront. It’s now much easier for smaller companies to access the same technologies that were previously only accessible to larger organisations; hosted phone solutions been one of them!
Scalability and flexibility are the two main advantages of hosted solutions for businesses of any size. Hosted and cloud solutions are usually charged on a per-user-per-month basis, meaning that companies only pay for what they actually need. Businesses can use the cloud as little or as much as they want in order to grow, and what’s even better is the cloud will grow along with your business.
The benefits of cloud (hosted) telephony...
Business telephony and the way we communicate has experienced lots of changes recently, with hosted phone systems now becoming the obvious choice. Installation is quick, easy and inexpensive, and although technologies like VoIP (basically voice calls transmitted over the internet) are nothing new, they’ve seen huge improvements in recent years.
This has all culminated in hosted unified telephony systems like HUC. Hosted voice solutions are now being compared to full-blown traditional PBX systems, with both telephony services providing businesses similar cutting-edge features.
1. The cost
The greatest benefit of hosted telephone PBX systems is the cost. There's no ongoing maintenance charges like with traditional PBX systems, and there's minimal installation costs. And because you don't need multiple phone lines for hosted telephony, monthly rental costs will be cheaper (or free!) too.
This is because the infrastructure for your hosted phones is stored in a centralised data centre, which is automatically updated and maintained without any extra cost to you. And because there's little equipment on your site, hosted phones can be installed at the click of a few buttons, without the need for specialist engineers.
It's often cited as one of the disadvantages of hosted phone systems, but when it comes to security there's really no need to be scared of the cloud.
With hosted telephony your supplier is in charge of (and responsible for) your system's security. That means it’s probably safer than it would be in your own hands, on your site. Disaster recovery plans and physical security in your provider's data centre will ensure that your hosted PBX is totally protected.
And in the worst case scenario, if something was to fail, then data will be rerouted to another part of the system, so you won’t even notice any downtime.
3. Extra features and increased productivity
Now that you know the maintenance of your system is in good hands, the reduced downtime and system management allows you to focus on what matters.
Depending on the model you choose, hosted systems bring added features, such as connecting staff across different sites, at home, or even on the move. The only thing that makes this better is that all internal calls made on your hosted system are usually free (supplier-depending)!
Improving productivity in your business doesn’t stop there; your staff now have the freedom to work from wherever they are - this is remote working in the digital age! With certain hosted phone systems like our Mitel solution, staff can answer incoming calls using the same number (extension) as they would in the office, so you can potentially employ staff without the need to accommodate them in a physical workspace.
We're not saying the biggest advantage of a hosted phone solution is that you can give staff the option to work from home, but having the flexibility to answer calls when you are away from the desk will help improve the service your business provides and the way you communicate internally too.
Certain benefits depend on the hosted PBX solution you choose. But with certain systems like HUC (based on Mitel telephony), there are extra features that allow your communications to operate more flexibly.
Take mobile twinning for example...
- If you’re just about to leave the office and you get a last minute call, there’s no need to stay at work late and hit the traffic. Thanks to mobile twinning you can transfer a current call from your desk phone to your mobile. And if you were to head back to the office again, you can put a current mobile call back through to your desk phone.
Never miss a call...
Like traditional PBX systems, there's a whole host of setups possible with hosted solutions, to make sure you never miss a single call. That could be allocating a single phone number to be used across multiple handsets (including mobiles), setting up call groups, diversions or redirects for example. Whatever you need, your hosted phones can probably do it. And your business will look far more professional when you pick the phone up every single time it rings.
Thanks to features like ePortals you can stay in control 24/7. All you need is an internet connection, and you can control your hosted system from wherever you are, whenever you need to. Flexibility is a major advantage that hosted systems have over traditional business telephony.
Addressing the 'disadvantages' of a hosted phone system
One of the common concerns when choosing a hosted phone system is the quality of the calls, and the reliability of the hosted PBX too. When internet calling solutions like VoIP first emerged, they were rife with problems caused by latency and poor bandwidth, with calls breaking up and disconnecting regularly.
But modern hosted solutions are a world apart from these legacy systems, yet they're still struggling with the bad reputation caused by VoIP and untrustworthy suppliers. Today thanks to multi-million pound data centre investments, hosted telephony is as reliable as on-premise systems; if not more so!
The world of business internet connectivity has also come a long way from the days of dial-up, with options like QoS; designed specifically to prioritise voice traffic for exceptional call quality.
So what's our top tip?
Make sure your business has a suitable internet connection; hosted communications and PBX solutions use the cloud remember, so it probably isn’t the telephony your business is looking for if it takes you 10 minutes to download a photo.
When you choose a system, your supplier should recommend a connection on which QoS is enabled. That's quality of service, and it guarantees all your voice calls are crystal clear.
Hosted PBX is great for new business
New businesses can find it very difficult to handle the installation costs of a traditional PBX telephone system, as well as keeping on-track with the constant maintenance costs.
But hosted telephone systems give any business a fully-functional communications solution from the get-go. There’s no need to wait for the system to be installed, your business can get to work on day 1. New companies, or even new offices, can benefit from hosted telephone systems as employees can get to work before they’re even allocated a desk!
Saving on expenses is hugely important for new businesses, and hosted systems are the way to cut down on costs. Like we said before, pay monthly instead of upfront lump-sums and only pay for what you need, knowing actually what your system will cost without unexpected maintenance charges.