January 8, 2014 | By

6 Things VoIP Brings to the Table (… and Cubicle)


Our Guest Contributor for this post is Craig Borowski from Software Advice. Craig specializes in VoIP and business telephony systems and is the Managing Editor for the blog Hello Operator.

The technology of telephony is always changing. There are big infrastructure changes, such as the shift from landlines to mobile and the shift from traditional phones to VoIP. There are also many small functional changes that these big changes make possible. Here we look at six.

1. Find Me, Follow Me – Don’t Miss Important Calls
Find Me, Follow Me (FMFM), a feature to look for when comparing VoIP systems, lets you program a sequence into how your phones will ring. You can have it, for example, ring all your devices simultaneously, or have them ring in a set order.

“Almost any business that is heavily sales-oriented is going to find this a very attractive feature,” explains Jeff Palmer, manager of inside sales and marketing at Jive Communications. “Especially when you’re talking about professional sales, like insurance agents, real estate agents, anyone dealing in investments, or high-end professional sales–these people can’t afford to miss calls, so FMFM allows them to not be handcuffed to their desks.”

2. Voicemail to Email – Save Time Catching Up
When activated, this feature listens to every voicemail message left in your inbox and transcribes them, sending you the text version as an email, often with the audio file attached. It greatly speeds up the process of catching up on voicemail. It’s one of those conveniences that you really can’t appreciate until you’ve tried it.

3. Easily Expand – Get Rid of the Growing Pains
Unlike traditional telephones, VoIP phones connect to computer networks. They can either plug directly into computers, plug into the networks the computers are on, or in the case of VoIP softphones (software phones), run on a computer as software. In any case, the number of phones on a network is limited only by bandwidth.

The shift away from copper phone lines to digital bandwidth is one of the big infrastructure changes we mentioned. Unlike phone lines, bandwidth isn’t a physical thing. Bandwidth can be thought of as a virtual commodity; if more is needed, you simply pay for more. In most cases, no physical hardware changes need to be made.

4. Monitor, Whisper, Barge and Record
The digitalization of voice calls means they can seamlessly integrate with computers. This opens the door to many advanced call features. The following is just a short sampling of some of the call features available on many of today’s business phone systems.

  • Monitor: This lets you simply listen in on a call. Neither party can hear you on the line.
  • Whisper: This lets you listen in on a call and speak so that only the internal party can hear you.
  • Barge: This lets you join an in-progress call, allowing both parties to hear you.
  • Record: This starts a two-way recording of the phone conversation. The recording is saved as an audio file on a network server, where it can later be retrieved and reviewed.

5. Point and Click System Management
Many phone systems allow you to make configuration changes through a user-friendly web browser interface. These interfaces keep simple tasks simple- changing your voicemail greeting, viewing call statistics and managing active calls are all as intuitive as browsing a web page.

And intuitive browser interfaces have done more than make simple tasks simple; they’ve also made advanced tasks available to un-advanced users. Making system-wide changes like rearranging extensions and reorganizing call-flow processes can often be accomplished without calling in outside help.

6. Security in the Cloud
“For small and medium businesses, we’re starting to see a big wave of people wanting to move to the cloud,” says Palmer of Jive Communications. This shift is primarily due to a desire for improved security, simplicity and more trouble-free system management.

It’s not true that in-house systems are more secure than cloud-based systems–they’re only more secure if they’re better managed. While larger organizations have teams of security specialists safeguarding their networks, small and midsize businesses usually don’t.

Moving core components of a telephone system to a cloud-based service puts it in the hands of the professional security experts these companies employ to keep customer data safe. It’s often the most economical way to keep your system secure.

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