Communication is a key factor for any business, whether it’s within departments or talking to customers. No matter how big or small your business is, voice communication is critical, even in the age of email, text and social media. A phone call offers a personal touch that text based methods of communication can’t, and is therefore vital to maintaining a successful business.
Many services we rely on day-to-day have already moved online, and telephony is making the changeover too. This article delves deeper into what cloud telephony is, how it works and how it can benefit us.
What is Cloud Telephony?
Instead of running your business telephone system from standard phone lines within your office, cloud-based telephony takes everything offsite and online This means it is hosted in the cloud, and your data is securely stored on a server that can be accessed via the internet. If you have ever used Skype you’ve already used cloud telephony.
Using cloud telephony means that a business doesn’t need to purchase any hardware or download any software to launch or manage their phone operations – all they need is a working internet connection and browser to get started. Phone numbers, data is stored in the cloud, and it is usually the case that the cloud solution will have servers all over the world. This means that even if one server location is having an outage or experiencing problems, your phone lines are rarely interrupted.
How Does Cloud Telephony Work?
Cloud telephony replaces traditional business telephone equipment, usually a PBX or Private Branch Exchange, with third-party VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service. VoIP is the technical term describing a phone service operated through the internet. In very basic terms, VoIP turns analogue phone signals into digital signals that can be sent over the internet, using packet-switched protocols. Packet-switched VoIP puts voice signals into packets, a little like an electronic envelope, which can be transmitted over any VoIP-compatible network.
Once VoIP is set up, it’s a lot cheaper than using normal phone lines. It means that, in most circumstances, you won’t have to pay more for phone calls based on distance, which country you’re calling, and how long you spend talking. There are various different ways to set up your VoIP system:
Using a traditional phone with a VoIP adapter. By using a special adapter you can make calls from your usual landline phone. The adapters either plug into the phone socket or your router.
With a computer. You can use a computer program to make voice calls to anyone who also has the program installed. This will usually be free, but calling an actual phone number may incur a charge. You can use the microphone and speaker built into your computer, but a headset may offer better sound clarity.
With a smartphone. You can use your smartphone to make calls using an app. Your smartphone may need to be connected to Wi-Fi rather than using data.
What are the Benefits of Using Cloud Telephony?
One of the most obvious benefits of switching to cloud-based telephony is that it’s cheaper than using traditional phone lines. However, there are plenty more positive reasons, including:
Flexibility for Remote Workers
Although many businesses were slowly making the shift towards more remote working, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed this trend much faster. Cloud telephony enables a remotely working team to all use the same system, and offers all the benefits of traditional phone desks, even when staff are not in the office. Features such as business voicemail and corporate directories can be accessed, even if someone is out on the road.
Once your cloud telephony system is installed, which is both simple and affordable, you can manage it quickly and easily. Making changes like adding additional features takes just a few clicks, but can benefit your whole workforce immediately. You also have more control over your staff: depending on your system you may be able to record calls, view active calls and monitor the work your employees are doing. Cloud telephony also makes your business easily scalable, depending on demand and the flow of staff.
Adapting to Changing Needs
Alongside Covid-19, there are many other ways in which the world is changing, making cloud telephony a very practical solution for businesses. Increasingly, companies have staff based throughout the whole world, and cloud telephony makes having offices in different countries much easier. With so much of our lives based online, it makes sense that our telephone systems are too.
What is the Future of Cloud Telephony?
Eventually, all companies will have to move to cloud telephony, due to BT’s plans to switch off the ISDN network. ISDN stands for Integrated Service Digital Network, and works on a copper network that was originally installed in 1986. Although this network has been radically updated over the years, they are essentially the same set up and design as those of the 1800s. Due to the fast pace that technology has evolved at over the last 20 years, the preferred way to send data is now via the internet, making ISDN increasingly obsolete. BT will switch off ISDN in 2025, so if a company has a telephone contract coming up for renewal soon, it’s time to start exploring cloud telephony options and get everything in place sooner rather than later.
In a rapidly changing world it’s important to be able to keep up with the competition. Cloud telephony offers business the opportunity to be flexible, scalable and adaptable, as well as being a sound economic choice. Once the ISDN network is switched off, the 2 million businesses in the UK that are still using it will have to make the switch. If that’s your company, why not make the change now and start enjoying the many benefits that cloud telephony can offer?