Why SMBs need to be Thinking about Hosted VoIP (IT Toolbox Blogs)



I write regularly about all variations of this topic, as ongoing research keeps showing new things. There is a lot for decision-makers to understand about VoIP itself, just as there is for the hosted services model. Building on that, there is a lot to learn about the hosted VoIP opportunity, and from there, the bigger picture around Unified Communications and collaboration.

 

Aside from my posts here, I produce webinar presentations on these topics, with my latest being about hosted VoIP for SMBs. In support of this webinar, the next series of posts will explore the rationale for deploying VoIP in the cloud. SMBs may have some uncertainty around VoIP, and the same for the cloud, so both need to be addressed before they can be considered together. Businesses have been well-served by premise-based telephony for a long time, so making a change on both fronts should not be considered lightly.

 

To address this, SMBs need to look at the end result – how would hosted VoIP benefit the business, both right now and longer term. A key factor is the ongoing pace of change with communications technology, along with IT’s ability to keep pace. These are fundamental challenges for all businesses, especially SMBs. They also apply equally well to the two scenarios that characterize your current situation. The most common would be having a premise-based legacy phone system now, but you may also be using a premise-based VoIP system, in which case you’re halfway there.

 

Aside from these, there may even be some currently using hosted VoIP, but are having second thoughts. In this scenario, your options are to go back premise-based telephony – likely VoIP, but you could even revert back to legacy – or stay with the cloud by going with another hosted offering.

 

Adoption of hosted VoIP among SMBs is clearly accelerating, and most research shows high satisfaction levels, so it’s usually the right move. As such, these SMBs don’t need to revisit the rationale for hosted, so for them, this series won’t hold much interest. However, if you’re having those second thoughts, this series should definitely hold your attention.

 

With that said, I’m going to address a variety of factors that will help build the case for hosted VoIP and perhaps cancel out any second thoughts about the cloud. No solution is perfect, but to at least get you thinking along this path, a good starting point is to evaluate the merits. You can choose to take these at face value or discount their relevance to your situation, but they all contribute to hosted VoIP’s overall value proposition. This post will touch on two such factors, and I will build from there over the next few posts.

 

Factor 1 – Software-centric


More than anything else, the move from legacy to IP for telephony is about the shift from hardware to software. Rather than being a Capex investment in a phone system that is fully-formed and built to last, the value proposition for VoIP is built more around an Opex-funded service that is constantly evolving to make communications easier and richer. There is even more truth to that with hosted VoIP, where the service can be fully managed by a cloud provider, and the endpoints – desk phones – now become secondary elements for the overall offering.

 

In this regard, hosted VoIP is very much aligned with the broader trend of applications and services being cloud-based and offered via the XaaS model. If you’re already comfortable with this model, then you should have a pretty high comfort level with hosted VoIP. For those who don’t think business-grade telephony can be software-based, it’s time to take a closer look. VoIP services that don’t run over the public Internet, as well as those that are hosted in a private cloud can be every bit as good as the legacy service you’ve been using for all these years.

 

Factor 2 – No IT required


This could be the strongest driver of them all, especially for SMBs, where IT resources are limited. To the extent that VoIP is viewed as a new technology, IT will have some natural reservations, and the associated complexity – whether real or perceived – can be a key reason not to deploy. If the legacy phone system is still working well, the unknown about VoIP makes it a risky move.

 

The hosted option for VoIP pretty much removes this risk, along with the pressures on IT to manage it. As such, whether IT is in a holding pattern or in a downward spiral for getting new resources, the cloud makes this moot and allows management to focus instead on the business value of VoIP. Now VoIP becomes viable for any size of business, or whatever state your IT department is in.

 

About the Author

JonJon Arnold is Principal of J Arnold & Associates, an independent telecom analyst and strategy consultancy based in Toronto, Ontario. The consultancy’s primary focus is providing thought leadership and go-to-market counsel regarding IP communications and disruptive technologies. You can follow Jon’s everyday insights on his influential Analyst 2.0 blog and on Twitter.

Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ May 31, 2016 at 04:09PM

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