Should your phone system be in the cloud?

It’s time to replace your legacy phone system — but, unlike a decade ago, this isn’t a simple hardware upgrade. Now you have choices: Do you stick with an on-premises system, or do you move into the cloud? Or try to find a combination of both?

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We often don’t think of phones as future-forward tech, but the office phone system has evolved to provide advanced communications and collaboration across organizations, including branch offices and mobile workers. The option you choose will depend on your business pain points, which features are essential and, of course, your budget.

Here are three deployment models to consider for your new phone system:

On-premises phone systems

With this approach, your phone system is housed on-premises and your staff maintains the network.

Pros: This allows you to maintain control over your voice and data. And a full system purchase is a one-time investment with no additional monthly charges and no contracts.

Cons: You need the right IT staff in place to maintain the network. Also consider that many manufacturers are taking this option off the table, discontinuing products and support.

Cloud phone systems

Cloud-based phone systems use a dedicated or shared Internet connection for one or more locations.

Pros: You can significantly reduce telecommunications costs by delivering calls over the Internet. You pay only for extensions being used, and can add extensions — as well as new features and capabilities — as your organization grows. It’s secure, since the equipment sits in a secure third-party data centre, and business continuity is built-in.

Cons: You may not have the expertise in-house to design, install or manage a cloud-based phone system. Fortunately, there are ways around this, such as working with a managed service provider.

Hybrid phone systems

Hybrid phone systems combine the benefits of on-premises and cloud-based phone systems, allowing you to use traditional phone lines for local calls and the cloud for long-distance and international calls.

Pros: A hybrid system lets you maintain control while using your existing infrastructure, resulting in significant cost savings, flexibility and scalability.

Cons: Again, you may not have the expertise in-house. A solutions engineer can help you design and implement a hybrid system that works for your business.

Grow your communications with cloud

Moving to a cloud or hybrid system isn’t just about reducing your phone bill. Unified communications tools can provide employees with a single application for voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing, mobility and team collaboration, with a communications experience that’s consistent across all devices.

That can help you meet business goals, such as improving customer service or boosting employee productivity through enhanced collaboration. By integrating the cloud platform with your contact centre, for example, you can link customers and data in real time — and deliver a superior customer experience.

Today’s advanced phone systems can be complicated to design and deploy. If you don’t have the expertise in-house, consider working with a managed service provider that can customize the right solution for your business, provide on-site project coordination, installation and testing of equipment, as well as on-site user training and support.

To learn about Allstream’s UC Cloud Voice, and Hybrid Cloud Voice products, click here.

Image: sorbetto/iStock

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