Whenever there’s a system problem, you can put the days of placing a panicky call to your IT department behind you when you implement a VoIP phone system. Big system problems cost your company time and money. What’s more, technical problems affect your vendors and customers as well. When your system is down, your employees can’t fulfill their responsibilities either. With analog phone systems, problems can occur in a multitude of places, making it difficult for IT staff to identify the problem, fix it, and get everyone back up and running quickly.
A VoIP phone system is a newer technology that relies less heavily on IT personnel to keep it running than legacy phone systems. After switching to a modern phone system, you won’t necessarily want to get rid of your IT department altogether. Many companies are finding that it’s beneficial to redefine the role of their IT departments. IT still plays an important role in helping businesses with technical system design and keeping apprised of new innovations.
The Role of IT in Managing Business Phone Systems
Whether your IT department consists of a team or just one individual, their primary role is to ensure that your network, including your business phone system, runs smoothly. When all systems are up and running well, no one really thinks about the IT department much. However, when systems are down or not working properly, IT staff are the “go-to” people and they’re expected to have all the right answers. When it comes to solving complex technical problems quickly, IT staff can go from zero to hero in record time.
People who work in IT may have a college degree or some type of technical training to work in the field. The right training is highly valued in businesses because technology is advancing quickly and new innovations are always on the horizon.
IT Department Responsibilities:
- Overseeing the installation and maintenance of computer network systems.
- Adding and deleting users to/from the computer system.
- Installing new hardware and software programs.
- Troubleshooting computer systems.
- Rebooting the computer system.
- Consulting on new programs, applications, and system design.
While the tasks listed are front-facing activities, IT directors and their staff generally perform many duties that most employees never see. For example, IT directors usually have a technology budget to work with. They have to find the balance between getting the right systems in place and making sure those systems help the company achieve its goals while staying within budgetary guidelines.
The Importance of a VoIP Infrastructure
Depending on their size and infrastructure, computer networks run the gamut from simple and straightforward to extremely complex. In simple terms, the IT department is responsible for setting up and maintaining the infrastructure for the company’s technical needs. The infrastructure pertains to hardware, software, computer networks, and any other equipment or programs that the company needs. Your company’s business phone system is an important part of that infrastructure.
To that end, IT employees help each department set up the appropriate digital tools and functions. In addition, they ensure that the flow of data and information is appropriate and efficient across the company.
While IT departments don’t create the policies that define which employees can access certain types of data, IT staff implement a procedure for governing which employees can access networks and operating systems.
Another important duty of IT departments is to ensure that all data and systems are secure. Companies that are still using traditional computer networks, as opposed to cloud technology, often need to spend many hours maintaining systems, ensuring strong uptimes, and maintaining safe and redundant data storage. Not only does your business phone system fall under the purview of your IT department, but IT staff is also responsible for how your phone system communicates with other business tools and software programs.
The Evolution of Business Phone Systems
So, exactly what is a VoIP phone system? To put it simply, a VoIP phone system provides a way for individuals and businesses to make phone calls over the internet. With a VoIP phone system, you’ll find a voice call icon on a device, and by clicking on it, you can place or receive a call.
In the early days of VoIP phone systems, voice calls didn’t always have the best voice quality. However, for the most part, the notion that VoIP phone systems have poor quality is largely a myth.
If we step back in time a bit and review some of the early communication methods, we’ve come a long way since the days of smoke signals, flag-waving, and Morse code.
A timeline of how business phone systems have evolved through the decades:
- In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson developed the first electrical telecommunication system in Boston.
- By 1888, telephone switchboards staffed by switchboard operators connected calls between parties.
- The 20th Century brought many advancements in phone systems, which eventually brought about the invention of cell phones and the internet. Advancements benefited individuals and businesses.
- Between 1950 and 1953, RCA Laboratories developed TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) technology, an innovation that took phones from analog technology to digital technology.
- During the 1960s, business telephone switching systems (called private branch exchange systems or PBX systems) replaced manual switchboards. PBX systems came with voice calling features like extension dialing, call transfers, and call forwarding. Phone system experts could also add boards to PBX systems that expanded the number of phone lines to 16 additional phone lines per board.
- The first voice data packets were transmitted in 1973, paving the way for the beginning of widespread use of VoIP technology for business phone systems.
- Not too much later, in 1989, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, which virtually changed how nearly everyone in the world lives, plays, and works.
- The same year, and within only 6 years of starting their business, Alon Cohen and Lior Haramaty, founders of VocalTec Communications, Inc., introduced VoIP communication technology.
- In 1992, IBM created the “Simon Personal Communicator,” which was the original version of what we now call a smartphone.
- In 1995, Cohen and Haramaty once again made headlines with the first internet phone, a software product that compressed the voice signal, turned it into digital packets, and distributed it over the internet. This technology was the birth of VoIP technology, which makes it possible to make internet calls.
Today, advanced technology provides the infrastructure for VoIP call center software, which is quickly becoming a staple of the marketplace.
The Phone Evaluation Process for the IT Director
In spite of so many advancements in business communications, the phone is still an essential channel for sales and support operations. Considering the evolution that’s taken place within the telecommunications industry, it’s fair for IT directors to consider the best way to go about evaluating business phone systems.
Essentially, IT directors have three choices of business phone systems:
- IP PBX
Note that only a VoIP phone system operates without traditional hardware.
As you establish the criteria for choosing the right business phone solution, it’s important to factor in the company’s goals and activities now and in the future.
VoIP Phone System Evaluation Questions:
- What kind of business phone system do you currently have?
- Are you setting up a phone system for the first time or are you looking at an upgrade?
- How heavy is your call volume?
- Do you anticipate setting up a virtual call center now or in the near future?
- Are you interested in setting up remote teams or distributed teams?
- Do you experience seasonal fluctuations where you need to scale your call center up or down during various cycles?
- What are the upfront and ongoing costs for the business phone system you’re considering?
- Which features are essential to meeting your goals? Do you just need basic voice calling features or are you looking for call center software that allows you to customize your workflows?
- Are you interested in features such as self-service options, customer satisfaction surveys, and other features that will help improve the customer experience?
- How reliable is your internet connection?
Most of all, it’s important to choose a business phone system that will continue to work well for you as your business grows and expands. Of course, it’s always helpful to get quotes and to take advantage of free trials so you can be sure your new business phone system meets your expectations.
How a VoIP Phone System Works
To understand how a VoIP phone system works, let’s follow your voice’s journey as it travels over the internet to the receiving party. As you click on the call icon and begin speaking, your computer’s microphone picks up the noise and identifies it as physical sound waves. The drivers on your computer convert the sound waves into an electrical signal. Your computer then converts the signal into binary data.
At this point, the operating system uses coding to separate the binary data into voice data packets (as mentioned in the earlier timeline). The data packets travel from your computer via the router, transmitting the signals over copper or fiber-optic cables to another computer some distance away. At the other end, the process is reversed, unscrambling the data packets into recognizable voice communication for the receiving party.
Why IT Decision-Makers Are Choosing VoIP Phone Systems
VoIP phone systems are the latest, cutting-edge business phone technology. There are plenty of good reasons that decision-makers are increasingly opting for VoIP phone systems over PBX and IP PBX phone systems.
When it comes to choosing a VoIP phone system, IT decision-makers have less worry over security and redundancy because the VoIP service provider takes care of all of that. With a VoIP phone system, IT decision-makers have an easier job of setting up an infrastructure for a business phone system that works seamlessly with VoIP integrations.
IT decision-makers find VoIP phone systems to be attractive options because the technology allows them to be strategic with how they’re able to help the company achieve its goals.
The Reasons To Choose a VoIP Phone System:
- Your voice phone system works in tandem with your CRM system for automatic data syncing.
- Call center representatives can make calls directly over the internet without using a handset.
- It’s quick and easy to set up a contact center for sales or service that’s dedicated to increasing revenue and enhancing the customer experience.
- Provides a centralized hub that connects the phone system with other software business tools.
- Reduces overall cost and makes budget planning simpler.
- Improves efficiency and productivity for sales and support representatives.
- Makes it possible to set up toll-free, national, and global numbers to give the company a local presence.
- Gives call center supervisors greater insight into call center activity via dashboard analytics.
- Allows companies to set up VoIP call centers.
- Allows for greater collaboration between managers, call center representatives, and their peers.
With a VoIP phone system, IT decision-makers can do a lot more for companies with a lot lower budget.
How VoIP Phone Systems Reduce IT Involvement
One of the many advantages of a VoIP phone system is that it reduces the number of hours that you need to rely on your IT staff. The really great thing about that is that you can use them to help you choose the right software integrations and set up productive, efficient workflows.
Look at these ways of how a VoIP phone system reduces IT involvement (and the associated expenses):
- Onboarding new employees onto the computer takes minutes rather than hours. Scaling is faster and easier and strategic onboarding aids in retention.
- There’s no equipment to maintain or monitor.
- Ongoing costs are fixed, which reduces the number of hours IT staff spend planning the budget.
- IT staff can fix problems remotely.
- Your phone system and software programs are portable if you ever change offices or expand.
- You won’t have to change phone numbers if you relocate your office.
- IT staff won’t have to spend hours of time setting up state-of-the-art security measures or monitoring the system for a data breach.
In summary, IT staff will always have a place in business phone systems. With a VoIP phone system, you won’t need as much involvement from your IT department to fix and maintain your business phone system as with other types of systems. A cloud-based phone system frees them up to help you identify the right tools and maximize the potential of those tools. VoIP phone technology has grown by leaps and bounds from the early years of telecommunications and Aircall wants to help your business learn how to use it to form genuine connections with your customers and inspire long-term brand loyalty.