Kat is Solution IP’s Marketing Assistant. Here she writes about Hosted Telephony and its Pros and Cons.

There is much talk of Hosted Telephony at the moment but is it right for you? We have detailed the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Say goodbye to your office desks

home officeThere is more and more reason to believe that open plan offices with fixed personal desks assigned to each worker will eventually be a thing of the past. There are a number of factors contributing to this development.

Scott Wyatt, chairman of Seattle-based architecture firm NBBJ has long been convinced that desk-based working is the wrong approach: “If you sit at your desk for more than twenty minutes, you start getting stupider”. He thinks that the social side of work may soon be the only purpose of office buildings. And it’s not the traditional sit-down meeting he has in mind: NBBJ posts maps next to office lift doors, suggesting outdoor walking routes for meetings of various lengths. Wyatt is convinced by the concept of office mobility, saying that “the company which gives the employees the choice at any given moment to optimise their effectiveness is going to win”. Large companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple share this belief and have opted for offices that encourage staff interaction, mobility and “worktivity”.

So why is Hosted good?

Cloud computing and technologies such as Hosted Telephony make enabling mobility surprisingly easy: not only can employees now access their files from anywhere, they can also use the same telephone number, no matter where they are located. This is particularly useful for disaster planning, as it means a local power outage does not necessarily mean the end to your business day. As long as there is an internet connection your staff can work from home, or when they are out and about, using the same number, files and software. As they can use their own devices to do so, it also means that there is no additional capital outlay for you.

Prepare for the future

Technologies like portable devices and cloud computing have made this new concept of working possible, and what may currently look like a gimmick for large companies should soon become a standard requirement to stay competitive, even for small companies.

For example, many employers underestimate technology as a factor in attracting and retaining young talent. According to Elaine Rossall, head of the London-based market research for property consultants Cushman & Wakefield Millennials “are used to different ways of working, sharing, and collaborating, even from an early age”, and they expect to see the same in the workplace.

Also, challenges like rising office rents, skill shortages and regulations such as the right to request flexible working mean businesses of all sizes are increasingly looking into alternative ways of working. More and more organisations are learning to embrace the future, with the benefits of reduced overheads, the ability to recruit globally and a happier workforce that enjoys flexibility.

It also helps with managing a remote workforce on a more permanent basis. Sales representatives can now be reached on their usual local UK number, even if on business in Shanghai, or permanently based there. And because Hosted Telephony is IP based, these long distance calls come at the same lower call rate. Not only that: Hosted Telephony packages typically include free calls between different office sites, no matter where in the world they are located.

Flexible and remote working does not mean an end to collaboration: Hosted Telephony enables conference calling with several participants, at no extra cost.

Out with the old, in with the new

We should also mention that Hosted won’t be affected by the ISDN phase out in 2025, as it is delivered over an assured EFM connection or Leased Line.

EFM stands for “Ethernet in the First Mile” and is delivered over up to eight copper pairs, thus very resilient and ideal to ensure business continuity.

A Leased Line is a permanent private connection from your business to the network, meaning you don’t have to share any of the bandwidth with other users. Though this type of connection is generally pricier, it offers the best quality and a guaranteed level of service.

Hosted Telephony can help save you money – can’t it?

The monthly cost for Hosted Telephony services is usually fixed, which helps businesses to budget efficiently. And because it is cloud based there is no need to purchase any physical equipment. Maintenance is typically included in the monthly cost.  What’s more; software updates happen automatically.

Designed to make your job easier

The ease of using a hosted telephone system comes to many people as a surprise: most systems come with an extensive range of call handling and management features. Such features include, for example, setting up the system to follow you around by ringing in sequence on telephones that you pre-program into it. Or you can transfer calls to your mobile phone when you’re out and about. Other services include interactive voice response, push SMS, voicemail, and automated call distribution.

Manage your business more efficiently with call reporting software

Another great benefit of Hosted Telephony systems is that, in many cases, it comes with call reporting software that supports you in managing your business. This feature helps analyse call patterns, monitor the time it takes to answer calls, or track the number of abandoned calls. This is a great tool to highlight weaknesses and opportunities in your teams, on the basis of which you can then manage your resources more effectively.

Are there any downsides to Hosted Telephony?

There are things to be aware of: you do need a good internet connection in order to run a hosted telephone system effectively. Bad connectivity can impact on the call quality and your employees’ ability to do their job. There are, however, dedicated business broadband solutions available. Make sure you speak to your service provider to see what dedicated, high-quality broadband services they offer.

It’s also important to be sure about your requirements before signing an agreement. Long-term contracts often offer cost savings, however, this can also mean less flexibility. Again, make sure you feel confident that your service provider fully understands your business and its requirements before making any commitments.

The verdict

Hosted Telephony is here to stay and the offerings will grow bigger and better over the years. The benefits are obvious, however, to maximise these it is important for each business to carefully consider their requirements before they move their telephone system over to a hosted solution. The successful implementation ultimately comes down to the service provider fully understanding your business and offering you a solution tailored to your needs. Additionally, getting the most out of Hosted means understanding all the benefits, and securing effective training so that users have complete confidence in their Hosted solution.

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