Business Phone Systems Featured Article

Five Reasons for Putting Your Phone System in the Cloud

December 09, 2013

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Not many of us pause right before we buy a printer for the office and ask ourselves, “Hmmm, I wonder if there’s enough upside to having a printer for my business.”

The pros and cons of long-established office necessities such as printers, scanners, photocopiers and PBX (News - Alert) systems are rarely calculated because these tools of business have become instrumental and just a given.

In the not-too-distant future, cloud-based telephone systems will almost certainly be counted as one of those necessary business tools, and there will be no need for articles such as this one. Every business will just automatically assume that they need a cloud-based phone system because the benefits are obvious.

It still is “early days” when it comes to the office phone in the cloud, however, so Cloud Tweaks recently laid out five good reasons for choosing a cloud-based phone system. Those reasons include cost savings, reduced maintenance, scalability, mobility, and freedom of choice.

Cost savings is one of the biggest benefits.

Cloud-based business phone service is based on voice-over-IP (VoIP), so right away there is going to be lower calling costs because the phone service travels over the Internet and therefore can be offered at much-reduced rates. Often, calling is one flat rate for domestic calls and Canada, and reduced charges for international calls.

There also are cost savings in that there is no need to buy hardware or service it, according to Cloud Tweaks.

One area of cost savings that the article does not mention, however, is the savings in terms of all the value-added features that come when using a service such as ShoreTel (News - Alert) Sky. Voicemail, call forwarding and many other features come standard. This further adds to the savings.

A major second reason for a cloud-based phone system is reduced maintenance. When all the business phone hardware is in the cloud, that means there’s no longer any telephone closet humming away and periodically requiring the attention of the IT department. There’s no need for the hardware at all, so upgrades and maintenance are a thing of the past.

This lack of upkeep can be extremely liberating, and it also makes smart business sense. Why should a company divert some of its resources to maintain a phone system, when it can just rent one as a service and let a company that makes phone service its business manage the business phone system?

A third advantage of the cloud is scalability.

“If you want to be frugal then you will find that your VoIP or cloud telephone system can actually be changed depending on your needs,” noted the Cloud Tweaks piece. “At certain periods you may end up needing a lot of space while during quieter times you may not need that much. It is therefore possible to add or subtract the space that you need and only pay the varying costs depending on what you’ve used.”

This ability to scale up or down easily depending on current needs is one of the unique benefits of the cloud that every cloud service delivers, with cloud-based phone service being no exception. When employees are added or taken away, no problem. There’s never too much infrastructure or too little with the cloud. Businesses only have what they need—nothing more and nothing less.

A fourth benefit of cloud-based phone service is mobility. This is another area where the cloud shines.

I can vouch for the power of this functionality personally. Very few of us live a 9-to-5 life these days. We work varying hours, we travel, we work in the field. All of this makes the office phone an albatross because it sits by our desk but we have to call in to check on messages and juggle multiple numbers with our cell phone as the “travel phone.”

With a cloud-based business phone service this no longer is the case, though. The office phone travels with you! You can use your iPad or smartphone to place and receive calls with most cloud-based phone services, and you carry your phone with you basically wherever you go.

Cellular phones certainly help with mobility, but there’s still the need for an office phone and the office phone can’t truly be a seamless tool for the mobile worker unless it leverages the cloud.

Finally, phone service in the cloud delivers freedom of choice.

With on-premise business phone systems, the hardware pretty much locks in a business. But with the cloud, the business phone system is a service that can be changed easily. It can be changed through upgrading to a different plan, or it can be changed by switching to a different provider. To make the change is pretty simple, and this freedom enables a business to get the best phone system possible and continue to ensure that it is using the best system for its needs.

Moving to a cloud-based phone system just makes sense.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson
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