July 29, 2009, 6:22 PM — Over the past few years there’s been a lot written about a service nearly every small business has heard of, but doesn’t fully understand: VoIP. At a basic level, VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is simply an Internet-based replacement for traditional phone systems, offering significant cost savings and enhanced technology, providing added convenience and productivity. In the face of challenging economic conditions, switching to VoIP is one of the smartest and should be one of the easiest decisions a company can make, especially considering small businesses have to work so much harder these days – and often on smaller budgets – just to remain competitive.
Despite this set of circumstances, the buzz surrounding VoIP seems to have died down, even in the face of phenomenal growth – in fact, research firm Dell ‘Oro Group expects 35 million small businesses worldwide to adopt VoIP calling by 2011.
But why the wait?
Businesses that have yet to make the switch may still be confused, intimidated or just poorly informed about VoIP. Beyond an odd-sounding name, there are popular myths keeping the traditional phone system holdovers from making the switch to VoIP – myths in need of busting as the education process about this service continues:
Myth #1: It’s not really going to save much money.
Switching to VoIP can save small businesses as much as 45 percent each month over traditional phone service. These savings come in the way of drastically reduced costs for long distance calls, as well as the elimination of maintenance fees and costs associated with moving, adding or changing employee phone lines.
Myth #2: It’s too much of a hassle to set up and manage.
There are different types of VoIP options available, depending on a businesses’ size and current phone system setup. With hosted systems there is no PBX hardware on site, which means nothing for the business to manage. These systems are ideal for companies at the end of equipment leases, and/or those looking to cost-effectively connect multiple locations and mobile employees with voice service. For those locked into an equipment lease, integrated VoIP services allow companies to plug right into those existing systems. Both solutions allow small businesses to take advantage of features usually found only in more expensive, big business-type systems, such as automated attendant, hunt group and call center routing.
Myth #3: Call clarity is inferior to traditional phone quality.
The reality is, call quality is directly influenced by broadband quality. Speakeasy provides business-class, voice-optimized broadband, which eliminates data interference when using data and voice on a single line by prioritizing voice traffic over all other data.
Myth #4: The technology is still too new.
The technology has been around since the mid-90s and has come a long way since. VoIP adoption is predicted to significantly increase over the next several years, while traditional systems are predicted to considerably decrease. VoIP is especially necessary in future-proofing small businesses to avoid being hamstrung by outdated technology.
Myth #5: VoIP is just a large business solution and is not necessary for SMBs.
On the contrary, VoIP delivers small businesses features that provide more mobility and flexibility, which is necessary in order to level the competitive playing field. This includes features such as Remote Worker, which allows an individual to use their office number and features from any phone, or Find Me/Follow Me, which allows users to route calls made to their office number based on a flexible set of rules. VoIP keeps small businesses competitive by allowing them to provide better customer service with lower operational costs, and also provides more flexibility to expand and contract according to business needs.
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Bruce Chatterley is CEO of Speakeasy, a Seattle-based broadband, voice and managed services provider for small businesses nationwide. Chatterley has more than 20 years of experience delivering high-tech and telecommunications solutions to the small business community, in domestic and international markets.