The Next Generation
of Office Phone Systems
rarely think twice about picking up the phone and hearing a dial
tone on the other end. Yet behind this simple technology is a
massive infrastructure and decades of technology investments to
ensure you can communicate as clearly and as efficiently as
possible. However, office phone systems were largely ignored by the
industry for a number of years, but today, the concept of such a
system is beginning to go through a dramatic transformation.
phone systems, also referred to as hosted PBX (Private Branch
eXchange) services, are just beginning to get the attention of
businesses. It has the potential to assist businesses and business
growth in previously unimaginable ways. It’s especially important
for small businesses. With this new phone in place, businesses can
now acquire a system that’s professional sounding and immensely
scalable at an affordable price. As recent as a few years ago, this
was relegated to larger businesses.
phone systems are grounded in a simple concept: outsource the phone
system to the experts and utilize the phone system as a service
available on demand. These services can be implemented along two
different paths. The first is where you employ a service provider
that supplies hosted PBX services over IP (Internet Protocol), which
allows both VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and a PBX (phone
system) service. This permits IP phones (or traditional analog
phones connected via an analog telephone adaptor) to use VOIP
calling plans that often offer flat rate calling plans.
VoIP based hosted PBX services offer business grade features, VoIP
has typically been associated with inferior quality audio. However,
VoIP technology has improved the quality of sound over the years and
is well on its way to becoming a mainstay in the telecom network.
When looking for a VoIP based provider, you will want to pay
attention to QoS (Quality of Service) issues and flexibility when
adding or removing add-ons as your business grows or scales down.
second approach is a hosted PBX service that will work with
landlines, cell phones, and VoIP phones, and will provide phone
switch management in place of a dial tone. In such a service,
inbound calls are handled by the provider, usually through a virtual
phone number given by the service provider. In this case, the
caller is presented with a professional sounding auto-attendant
describing various options, and the call is then routed to the
appropriate destination (be it your desktop phone or cell phone).
This system is beneficial in its flexibility, ease of use,
affordability, and quick implementation. On the other hand, you
will have to work with multiple providers—one for the PBX service
and another for the dial tone (whether it is a landline, mobile, or
considering hosted phone systems, look for features such as:
auto-attendant, multiple mailboxes call routing, find me-follow me,
music-on–hold, call screening, call transfer, find by name and full
listing directory assistance, voicemail to email, and fax to email.
These features facilitate small businesses in leveling the playing
field with their larger counterparts. Small businesses are at an
inherent disadvantage because of their size, but by using hosted
phone systems, you can send a message to customers and prospects
that you are just as efficient and capable as some of the larger
enterprises in the industry.
mobile workforce becoming more common, hosted phone systems play a
major role in promoting both mobility and flexibility. This, in
turn, contributes to a higher satisfaction level among your customer
base. With features such as find me-follow me, the system can be
directed to reach you at the office, on your cell, or at any other
number of your choice based on the order and routing rules
specified. Small businesses find this feature especially useful
when it forwards customer calls to the right employees, regardless
of their location.
phone systems may also be used in conjunction with call center
activity. For a support voicemail line, systems can collect all
voicemails via email and feed them to an email response queue. This
eliminates the time-consuming task of constantly checking
voicemails. You can also forward a voicemail to someone else via
email—something that is convenient, but non-existent, in most phone
systems. Similarly, you can also route all incoming faxes to email
and avoid the wait and unpredictability associated with waiting for
addition, most hosted phone systems allow you to control and manage
features online through a web interface. Not only is this
convenient, but it also makes it easy for businesses to seamlessly
incorporate additional capabilities as they become available.
don’t need to be a telecom expert to program an office phone system
anymore and the affordability, flexibility, and versatility of these
systems can certainly be used as a competitive advantage.
Harprit Singh is the founder,
President, and CEO of Intellicomm Inc., an enhanced communications
service provider. Intellicomm is the developer of Innoport® (www.innoport.com)
mobility enhancing unified communications service. For more
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