The cloud, the place where seemingly all your data is stored. In business environments, your work smartphone, accounting system, CRM, file storage system, email and web hosting systems may all use cloud technologies.
With powerful functionality and lower overall telephony costs achievable, the popularity of cloud-based telephony sometimes referred to as ‘hosted telephony’ or ‘VoIP’ (Voice over Internet Protocol) has increased significantly in recent years, however, these cloud-based solutions are not without their drawbacks and risks.
In our latest blog post, we’ll take a look at the key benefits and drawbacks of using a cloud-based phone system for business.
How Does a Cloud-Based Phone System Work?
Believe us, it’s not just you and your Grandmother who don’t understand what ‘the cloud’ really is or how it works.
As you may have expected, it has nothing to do with the big fluffy white things in the sky, but instead refers to software being run or data being stored and accessed via the internet – as opposed to a local machine or server.
In the case of a phone system, instead of having hardware on-site and connecting through a fixed line, calls are made through an internet connection – this process could be compared to web applications such as ‘Skype’ that many are familiar with.
Cloud-Based Telephony – Key Advantages for Businesses
Significant Cost Savings
As there is no on-site hardware to invest in other than the handsets, the initial cost savings of a cloud-based phone system are significant – businesses will also benefit from avoiding the recurring maintenance costs that come with traditional phone systems.
What’s more, businesses using a cloud-based system will benefit from only paying for what they use, with bespoke packages available to suit any requirement. All this topped off with lower call costs means cloud-based telephony holds some serious cost saving capabilities for businesses.
Flexible and Scalable
When businesses are growing, scaling down or relocating – they need a business phone system that can keep up. Given that there is no hardware installed on site, cloud telephony allows businesses to move with ease and add or remove handsets at the click of a button.
With modern working now encapsulating both remote and flexible working hours, the call forwarding, ’one number anywhere’, home worker and hot desking features that can be included with cloud phone systems ensure that businesses can stay as efficient as ever whilst promoting a flexible style of working for their employees.
Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Working within the cloud means that cloud phones systems remain unaffected by the environment. For example, in the event of severe weather keeping employees getting to the office, their business mobile can be set up to receive relevant calls.
What’s more, the quick set up and call forwarding features means that should there be flooding or a fire in your premises, you can easily forward calls onto an alternative business premises and continue your operations from there.
Cloud-based phone systems give small businesses functionalities that would historically only be found in large corporate environments, some of the key functionalities of Channel Hosted Telephony include:
- Easy to use interface – A convenient dashboard that can be used to access call history, voicemail messages and recorded calls.
- Call recording – Allowing for the recording of inbound and outbound calls, useful for staff training, compliance reasons and complaints handling.
- Auto attendant – Auto attendant is used to take calls and route them to the correct place. The auto attendant feature may also be used to set up pre-recorded messages to play when the office is closed.
- Collaboration functionalities – Including easy external and internal call transfers, customisable setting for each department, instant group calls and call park features.
- Security – Features including call barring, call history and authorisation code access ensures that your phone system is secure.
- Hot desking – Allowing workers to use their own number and preferences on any cloud-enabled handset in the premises. Coupling this with the ‘one number anywhere’ feature gives employees complete freedom in their workspace.
Are There Any Disadvantages to a Cloud-Based Phone System?
As with any device that relies on an internet connection, downtime poses a serious risk to cloud-based technologies, with internet outages causing the entire system to go down.
Whilst disruptions in service are much less commonplace now, you are reliant on your vendor as well as your broadband provider to give you an uninterrupted service. (However, bear in mind, you would be reliant on your provider with traditional landlines too – telephone lines down in high winds would also cause you a disruption).
Privacy and Security
With many large corporations admitting to data breaches and the new GDPR regulations coming into place, data security and customer privacy are more important than ever.
As with service disruptions, as well as your own infrastructure and processes for securing data, you are also reliant on your providers.
Choosing an off the shelf package that’s not fit for purpose will end up costing your business in the long run. It may be that it is not compatible with your business model, it doesn’t integrate with your current systems or it doesn’t offer what you need during growth without costly upgrades.
How Do I Prevent Risks When Using Cloud Based Phone Systems?
Follow our tips for ensuring that you don’t experience any of the disadvantages of a cloud-based phone system:
- Ensure your broadband provider offers superfast fibre broadband with minimal downtime. You can check your current internet speed free
- Choose a flexible provider that lets you upgrade or downgrade your package offering as required.
- Prepare a recovery disaster and business continuity plan for in the event of system failure.
- Audit your suppliers carefully – cheapest is rarely the best.
- Ensure you have robust data protection and security systems in place – also review that of your suppliers.
- Ensure that you have adequate anti-virus protection on all of your business IT systems.
Cloud Phone System FAQs
Can cloud phone systems integrate with my CRM?
Absolutely, in fact, the Channel Integrator is a piece of software that allows integration of your phone systems with over 20 of the top CRM packages as well as popular tools such as Skype.
Will there be any improvement in call quality?
In the past, phone systems that ran over the internet often had unreliable call quality. However, newer cloud systems (coupled with fast internet speed) can equal if not better the sound quality of that of a fixed line.
Should I switch from a fixed line to cloud phone systems?
In addition to the numerous benefits and cost savings that can be made by moving away from a traditional fixed line, businesses will need to prepare for when BT switch off PSTN and ISDN networks by 2025. For more information on this change, read our blog post here.
Can I keep my existing number?
In most cases, you will be able to keep your existing number. Your provider should inform you before the switch if it is not possible for any reason.
Powerful Cloud Based Phone Systems For Business
At Channel Comms, we offer an industry-leading cloud-based telecoms solution to business across the UK, providing a scalable, flexible, powerful and cost saving solution to businesses of all sizes and structures.
If you want to see the difference a cloud-based system could make to your business, or just require some more information – call us today free on 0800 856 6900 or fill out a contact form below and we’ll get back to you.