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How VoIP Technology Can Transform Your SMB

Small and midsized businesses value simplicity, and that's why many are making the switch from phone branch exchange (PBX) phone systems to voice over internet protocol (VoIP).

An office telephone on a desk next to a cup of coffee.
With VoIP technology, small and midsized businesses can reach enterprise-quality communications.

Though PBX has been a steadfast presence in the business world for decades, VoIP technology has exposed its relative age by wrapping most — all, for most businesses — of the same features in a simplified, cloud-based package. When one option is faster to set up, easier to maintain, and more affordable and feature-packed than the alternative, any company would be remiss not to explore a potential upgrade.

In other words, VoIP technology doesn't just bring numerous advantages to the table — in many ways, it represents the next step for small business communication. Here's a look at the advantages of making the switch.

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PBX vs. VoIP Technology

Carrying two or more voices from endpoint to endpoint is an inherently complex task. VoIP and PBX differ in how that complexity is managed. In the old days, getting business phone service required lots of upfront costs, lots of upfront work, and (perhaps most notably) lots of wires. Once a vendor's technicians came out, added the necessary hardware, and wired every phone on the premises to it, the business was finally ready to talk. To embrace VoIP, a business only needs the following hardware and infrastructure:

  • Computers
  • Microphones for those computers, presuming they don't come built-in
  • An internet connection with suitably fast upload and download speeds

Given the sparse network conditions VoIP is built to work under, even that last point doesn't pose a challenge for most businesses. Most SMBs can get by using VoIP lines via their existing hardware and networking capabilities — a better proposition than closets full of wiring equipment and lengthy, often costly service calls every time some minor thing goes wrong. While PBX has some utility, VoIP works on the back of technologies businesses already use. By consolidating communications into the computers personnel use daily, the technology can also increase productivity across the organization.

Scalability and Mobility

SMBs often have more than one location, whether this distributed environment arises from natural growth or the business is designed that way. VoIP technology makes maintaining a consistent presence across locations, states, and even countries easier, as there isn't the complexity and cost of installing and managing a singular PBX across multiple sites.

For instance, take the act of transferring a call to a phone line in another location. Since VoIP systems can function as if all employees are in the same building, a business's clientele can have seamless access to the whole business. And with the complex technical aspects and equipment managed on the vendor's side, it's easier and less costly to add new locations to the network — a considerable advantage in times of growth.

On the other end, employees can use business VoIP apps on smartphones and tablets to place and receive calls from the company's internal phone system. They can even do this from their personal mobile devices, if the business chooses to allow this functionality. As many businesses add work-from-home options and hire remote and field-based employees, the ability to quickly provision mobile features as needed is yet another cloud-based bonus few organizations can afford to miss.

Feature-Rich Telephone Use

VoIP technology's benefits don't stop there. By consolidating communications into the computers personnel use daily, SMBs can also increase productivity across the organization.

Consider the ability to engage in a call from a computer while simultaneously using the device for other tasks, a common need in web-based conferences, where presenters talk as they navigate to shared-screen webpages, draw charts, and perform other actions. How much harder would this be if the presenter had to cradle a phone to her ear at the same time? How badly would the call quality suffer if she handled the talking from a speakerphone?

Remote teams in particular can benefit from solutions such as presence notification and VoIP call recording. Leadership, for instance, could use presence tools to confirm attendance before sending out invites and use the recording feature to capture another member's technical advisement.

SMBs do best when their tools offer simplicity, flexibility, and utility; VoIP technology offers all three. The tech's built-in features and ability to mesh with existing processes is a step or three toward better-integrated, more productive communications for every location in a company's stable.

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