As a fellow small business, Alternate Access understands how SMBs make major purchases. Any investment in the company is a big one – especially in these economic times – and each purchase must be evaluated and reevaluated to ensure that the company is getting the most bang for its buck.
We also understand, firsthand, how VoIP can help SMBs achieve that bang. So our marketing department recently posed this question to our sales staff: What are the most common VoIP misconceptions you hear from potential customers?
We were surprised to hear some the VoIP myths people still believe and decided to go “MythBusters” style to debunk them and set the record straight. We’ll spill the beans right now and tell you that the key to ensuring none of these myths become reality for your company is to strategically plan your transition to VoIP with the guidance of an industry expert.
Myth #1: The Quality of Calls Will Decrease
It’s basic, but it cannot be overlooked. The quality of your calls is directly affected by the quality of your Internet service and the prioritization of voice in the traffic flow. Before VoIP is installed, your local and wide area networks must be professionally evaluated to eliminate the bottlenecks that introduce packet loss, jitter and latency that negatively affect voice quality. A small investment in equipment and router programming to support Quality of Service (QoS) yields a data network with fast and reliable internet access and excellent sound quality.
In addition VoIP offers newer, high-end telephone sets that support a technology called HD voice. The high definition uses a broader frequency spectrum and adds richness to the audio stream, providing for an enhanced communication experience.
New technology can be a part of your strategic plan. Many providers now offer a circuit where voice is prioritized over data and where the provider has control over the entire path from the customer though the internet to the endpoint. Also, there are an increasing number of products available for providing these controls at the border of the customer network to prioritize and secure the voice traffic – all of which come together to give you clear, stable call quality.
Myth #2: A Traditional Phone System is Easier to Use
We are all creatures of habit, and it is sometimes difficult to part with those things that make us comfortable – phone systems included. However, this myth couldn’t be further from the truth.
VoIP phone systems provide all of the creature comforts of a traditional phone system and make them accessible to a wider range of employees, who can use either the phone set or a graphical user interface to conduct most basic phone functions. Employees who are accustomed to software products such as Microsoft Office or Outlook will quickly realize similarities and enjoy the intuitive nature of VoIP phone systems. So whether you prefer to transfer a call by pressing keys on a phone set or by dragging and dropping a call via the desktop, VoIP can accommodate you. What could be easier than that?
Myth #3: There Are More Security Issues with VoIP
Data security remains a growing concern for all customers and VoIP is certainly part of that risk. In fact, it is important to treat your VoIP system with the same security levels as the company’s servers and network. Part of the evolution of your data security strategy can be met with the same firewall components that provide QoS for VoIP resulting in both better performance and security.
In addition, VoIP and traditional phone systems share many of the same security threats, such as hackers accessing voice mail via weak passwords and the use of unrestricted call forwarding options. Allowing remote phones and satellite offices to share phone services from the main VoIP system can also pose a threat by opening your network to potential exposure. You can avoid these mishaps by using VoIP aware firewalls and gateways and VPN for access from remote sites as added security measures.
Myth #4: The Cost to Upgrade Infrastructure Will Be Too Great and It’s Simply Not in Our Budget
Because VoIP phones systems are “wired” as part of your Internet network, there is substantial savings in cabling and infrastructure cost at the outset of your implementation. Pre-planning your office upfit with your phone system in mind can maximize utility of your “phone closet” and save you from unnecessary headaches down the road.
Because VoIP systems often provide more people-friendly interfaces, self-administration is possible, saving both scheduling time and money for simple moves, adds and changes maintenance.
Ongoing phone costs can be reduced, particularly if long distance calling is a requirement of your business. In some cases, our customers have saved enough on their monthly phone bill to cover the cost of a new system and increase their cash flow.
The bottom line is that, of course, only you know your company’s bottom line. However, it is important to consider all of the factors and make sure you are knowledgeable about the competitive edge that VoIP offers SMBs.