Business Phone Providers
For over a century now we could have picked up a telephone receiver and heard dial tone. The new reach across our nation and around the world enabled Canadian businesses to connect, compete and have an international presence. Competition for Long Distance loyalty drove prices down among Incumbent and Competitive Telcos who made large investments with the promise of improved quality & value delivered. By the end of the 1900’s most jobs were not in factories and farms as we had a ‘Services’ oriented economy which meant head offices and remote branches that desired a telephone set on each desk. That was how our work was coming to us and we relied on it to give status, complete tasks, make sales and communicate faster than Canada Post. Many Canadian companies capitalized Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) to amalgamate multiple internal lines into a voice trunks connected to the Telco’s backbone. These systems required capital, space, power and an internal administrator with some expertise to operate it all.
As the adoption of desktop email shrunk our communications barriers, the internet became more reliable and capacity grew exponentially. The computer now complimented the telephone desk set but did not fully replace the voice as the method on how we assigned and completed our work. In fact the adoption of IP communications facilitated the internally hosted PBX to move from analogue to digital transmissions with the elimination of expensive trunks and provided us with smarter desktop phones. SIP Trunking was the result of large telecoms adjusting to technology that enabled more value and innovation. This evolution continued as the landline phone service providers offered a new hosted PBX from the station. This choice satisfied the main goal of an economical & smart business phone at the edges. Then IP PBX technology further evolved with multiple credible entrants manufactured their own versions of the IP PBX and the feature rich VoIP Business phones that could be bought outright or leased to the enterprise.
Today Canadian National Service Providers and competent niche offered Cloud PBX services for an Voice and IT Collaboration as-a-Service on a per seat basis. These co-managed engagements reduce the need to attract and retain a large internal telcom staff to execute user changes, billing reconciliation, care and feeding for a business function now delivered as opex. The desktop VoIP business phone and now with the complimentary mobile business phone are essential to keep individuals/teams economically connected and productive.
How to Choose the Right Business Phone Provider
Although each partner you could choose from seem to offer similar desktop features, not all VoIP business phone providers are created the same however. Each has a great standard base of features at the edge but depending on your company’s size, technical maturity and willingness to share visibility and control a cloud PBX delivered by a large provider or a mid-sized independent specialized partner may be your best choice. The needs analysis can be daunting and with an excess of exhaustive checklists. Here's where GoneVoIP offers competitive overviews and some decision criterial to assist in this decision making.
- Outright Ownership or Per Seat pricing? First off your company’s capital position or desire for a pure opex model is imperative to resolve up front. The technology will work fine either way but financial governance may direct you to purchase or partner for an internal IP PBX on your LAN infrastructure or a Hosted IP PBX on a service provider’s location. Capitalizing such an assets in these fast changing technology times may create an obsolesce risk. A leasing partner option may also colour this decision point.
- What features do I really need at the edge? Every business phone desktop set can mimic the legacy dial tone, essentials like making calls, music on hold, transfers, conference bridging etc. The world of IT collaboration has brought in Unified Communications features such as user presence, ring groups, voicemail and video chat integration. The voice/data domains are now forever blurred with Conference Calls that share presentations and meeting scheduling that is expected to be quick and easy for any office based employee to master.
- How many of these Bells & Whistles will your business really use? Advanced VoIP PBX features are often used to close the sale when the basics are covered and price is a factor. As the decision maker you should evaluate if the advanced features are going to be consumed only by the technology ‘power users’ or is wide adoption plan that may lead to training. While ‘voicemail to email’ conversions on missed calls is nice to have, some cloud PBX platforms have further integrated with security platforms or Salesforce.com (as examples) for mobile road warriors and stationary order takers. Evaluate the extent of eventual use of each advanced feature as they may become tomorrow’s table stakes and eventually be included free of charge.
- Are your business practices mobile? Most employees have a personal cell phone and perhaps a secondary business mobile phone. Enterprises must come to grips with the realities of BYOD mobile devices as most will want to carry only one. The user expectation is that the features of the IP PBX be supported seamlessly whether on the laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phone. Some hosted IP PBX services providers fully support Android and Apple iOS.
- Little Fish in a Big Pond? Teaming up with one of the large Telecom Providers (Bell, TELUS, Rogers, Allstream as examples) has advantages and disadvantages that you should consider. They are deep in engineering talent, attract major IP PBX partners and possess 7x24 support. Each as attempted to create offers and sub departments devoted to small and medium business. These managed service models are often not flexible or subject to big business processes for provisioning and maintenance. On the good side they often have been your legacy landline phone service provider for business and are motivated to retain your business. They can couple the business phones with discounted internet, security, collaboration and other cloud services with SLAs.
- Medium Fish in a Medium Pond? Much of the growth and excitement for IP PBX and surrounding services is generated by the mid-sized Canadian IP PBX vendors and service providers (RingCentral, Versature and Telehop for examples) that are in growth mode. They are eager for your business and thrive when they produce delighted clients with genuine positive reviews. Often they are flexible with contracts and installation fees to grow their base. These co-managed offers positioned in Bronze, Silver and Gold service levels to fit your requirements and budget. Always check what IP PBX vendor hardware and software is ‘under the covers’ and ask about proof of their ability to meet your service expectations.