Best of Breed Small Business Telephone Systems and IP Integration
A small to mid-sized company looking for a way to improve staff productivity, foster loyal customer relationships and reduce telephone network maintenance costs needs to consider implementing a small business phone system. Why? Because a best of breed small business phone system, if based on an open platform, can seamlessly integrate with existing telephone systems for small business to optimize their effectiveness across voice, data and media channels with little in the way of additional third-party applications or networking hardware.
A PHONE SYSTEM IS A PHONE SYSTEM
When seeking a small business telephone system solution that will provide these benefits, companies must remember that, above all, a small business phone system in UK is a phone system; various bells, whistles and enhanced features come along with that system, but unless it supports immediate, cost-effective telephone-based communications, its Business capabilities will not be worth the investment. In fact, it is the fear that they might be buying more technology than they really need that often keeps companies from investing in a telephone system small business solution. And, with many phone systems for small business in the UK marketplace, this fear is actually well founded. Only by carefully evaluating alternatives can companies find a non-intimidating, easy-to-implement, easy-to-maintain small business telephone system solution that offers all the benefits of a traditional telephone environment, while also gaining the ability to add new features, if and when they are needed, at virtually no additional cost. The optimal small business telephone system allows you to implement new applications, including VoIP, web interactions and email integration at your own speed and according to your budget restrictions. What you need to look for is a system that allows you to take advantage of cost savings today, yet provides the technology required to future proof your business.
At the highest level, this flexibility and scalability is the most important differentiator of a best of breed phone system for small business as compared to a traditional analog system provided by the legacy telecom vendors. Briefly put, telephone systems for small business should give more bangs for the buck, providing more features for less money. The problem companies’ face in making a system selection is that not all offerings can achieve this objective because of complex infrastructures, complex implementations and complex pricing schemes. In our view, small business telephone systems plagued by these shortcomings should not even be considered business phone systems, because, as stated above, the purpose of a Business solution is to simplify communications and lower the costs of doing so.
IP SUPPORT PUTS THE “NEXT” IN Next Generation
The common thread linking all telephone systems for small business in UK is their ability to support the IP networking protocol. As a result, they can seamlessly interface with data networks, even to the point of supporting voice calls over data networks. This convergence of voice and data traffic enables small business phone systems to reduce transport costs and also to consolidate voice and data network management. Convergence also allows these systems to support new services and features such as unified voice and email messaging, computer telephony applications and the ability to remotely access system features and to fully leverage web sites with integrated capabilities such as click to talk.
One key difference among phone systems for small businesses is the way in which they achieve this voice/data convergence. Some systems, for example, require implementation of a specific vendor’s IP infrastructure in order to function. This may mean adding Ethernet switches, DHCP servers and other expensive and complex IP devices. These data-centric systems are also likely to require vendor-specific, expensive IP phones that can cost as much as twice the price of analog phones–which may be completely adequate for a specific company’s requirements. Furthermore, phone systems for small businesses that are dependent on a proprietary IP infrastructure may not support the analog features required by a conventional telephony environment such as fax lines, and dial-up modems, a real asset at branch offices or when network links go down.
Another downside to dedicated small business IP telephone systems is that they are often modular, requiring additional gateway products to add features. Need email? Buy an email gateway. Insist on analog phone support? Buy an analog gateway. In addition to adding cost to an already expensive infrastructure, this modular approach makes the systems difficult and time-consuming to implement and upgrade as compared to systems that are based on a single chassis which incorporates all features—both analog and digital. With full support for all features required on a single chassis, the better small business telephone systems carry a significantly lower total cost-of-ownership, are easier and faster to implement and support the services needed today—as well as those likely to be required in the future.