How to Tell if Your VoIP Solution is Enterprise Grade
Most hosted VoIP solutions are designed for small companies.
However, if you run an enterprise-level organization you need to avoid buying a small-company phone system. You want to ensure your company’s new phone system is the right fit.
If you want an “enterprise” VoIP solution, you have to perform your due diligence and find a provider that specializes in larger companies. First, however, we recommend that you educate yourself so that you can tell the difference between an enterprise, and a residential or small business VoIP solution.
In this article, we’ll help you distinguish between the two, as well as show you which core features you must look for when shopping for an enterprise-grade communication solution.
Enterprise VoIP as a Solution: An Essential Overview
Before we dive head-first into looking at enterprise VoIP solution specifics, we believe it’s essential to have an understanding of VoIP fundamentals. Let’s briefly take a look at what it is, how it works, and the advantages that a VoIP solution brings to an enterprise.
What does VoIP mean and what does it do?
Here are the VoIP fundamentals that every company should know.
For starters, VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol.” VoIP is related to the term “IP Telephony.”
VoIP technologies, at the most elementary level, enable analog telephone communications to be digitally transferred and routed over data networks. This takes place over the internet, wide area network (WAN), or a local area network (LAN).
Video has become a major network consideration for 21st-century companies because it requires large amounts of bandwidth and has become a primary mode of communication and collaboration.
When combined on one network, data, voice, and video offer productivity enhancement opportunities for users. In addition, combining and consolidating these services creates potential telecom savings and numerous efficiencies for organizations.
However, there is a side effect of major headaches for IT networking staffers who have to “keep the peace” between the three demanding sets of network traffic.
For their part, CIOs who are burdened with legacy telecom and networking infrastructures, will have to spend a tremendous amount of resources on improving their network capability, reliability, and flexibility to keep pace.
How Does VoIP work?
In today's day and age, there are three distinct ways that businesses (and your average consumer) are using VoIP technology.
How Businesses Use VoIP #1
The first is by using a regular phone, a strong (fast) internet connection and (for the consumers) an analog telephone adapter, or ATA. The ATA converts voice signals into a digital packet of data and sends it over the internet. It's not too difficult to set up and use, and it is common in the consumer VoIP space.
For businesses with many users on traditional phones, the ATA becomes a specialized server that can convert the analog voice signals into packetized data.
How Businesses Use VoIP #2
A second method of deploying VoIP is by using a specialized IP or VoIP telephone. This looks almost identical to a standard landline telephone, but it hooks up to a router using a standard Ethernet cable. A specialized IP voice server in an organization's back office is able to route calls, from one VoIP-enabled phone to another, over the network. This option has become more popular recently as we say goodbye to analog.
How Businesses Use VoIP #3
The third way is by installing software that acts as if it were a mobile telephone onto your PC or laptop. The only thing your organization needs for this is the following:
- a solid internet connection
- a “soft phone” or a speaker
- sound card
With this, you have the ability to make and receive the calls–which normally go to an office number–right from your PC. Despite its innovative characteristics, and the ubiquity of the needed components, this method has not caught on as widely as you might think.
What Is “Enterprise VoIP?”
Enterprise (grade) VoIP is a term used to describe the unified communications systems typically utilized by medium-to-large businesses and corporations. Most large businesses employ an enterprise VoIP solution instead of a traditional telephone system in order to drastically cut costs and increase their bottom line.
In addition, enterprise VoIP providers offer solutions that extend far beyond what is possible with a traditional telephone system.
Quality enterprise VoIP providers typically support multi-line telephone systems, PBX gateways, on-premise PBX systems, and hosted VoIP.
To say it simply, VoIP utilizes your existing broadband connection in order to make and receive calls, which in turn makes calling more affordable.
The Differences Between an Enterprise VoIP Solution (Business) and Residential VoIP
When you’re a potential VoIP customer, you have to make an important distinction: Am I using VoIP for business or residential (consumer) purposes? As an organization, you absolutely want to ensure you are using a business (enterprise) VoIP solution.
Although VoIP makes and receives calls the same way for business and residential services, there are many critical differences.
Here are some of the key differences between business enterprise VoIP and residential VoIP that you should know about:
1. Business/Enterprise VoIP = More Calls
One key difference between enterprise (business) and residential VoIP is overall usage and traffic. With residential VoIP, you are often getting unlimited calling plans. This is due to the assumption that the user is not consuming as many minutes as business VoIP.
Businesses or enterprises tend to make a higher frequency of calls, simultaneous calls, as well as more long-distance and international calls and require something far more robust.
2. Business/Enterprise VoIP = More Features
Residential VoIP services tend to be basic and include a limited number of features. Some common features included with a residential VoIP include voicemail, call waiting, caller ID, call blocking, and do not disturb.
On the other hand, business and enterprise VoIP solutions provide more features that are specifically geared towards improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a business or organization.
They include the following call management features such as:
- conference calling
- call hold
- conference bridge
- call forwarding
Enterprise VoIP also includes mobility features like follow-find call routing, unified inbox, and mobile apps.
In addition, there are useful training features that help to get your teams up to speed.
Every enterprise-grade VoIP provider operates distinctly and offers different business-focused features. Be sure to identify which features you require to ensure a provider aligns with your organization’s unique needs.
3. Business/Enterprise VoIP = Increased Flexibility
Enterprise VoIP gives you increased control and flexibility.
It permits you to add extensions, features, numbers and more. You can add new employees or extensions with minimal effort. Furthermore, you also have the ability to make changes in the admin portal and view your changes in real-time.
Plus, business VoIP has mobility features that let employees stay connected to the phone system regardless of whether they are working from a remote location or are connecting on the go.
Finally, with a business VoIP option like hosted VoIP or a virtual PBX, you have access to the cloud.
Residential VoIP, on the other hand, is quite basic by comparison. It includes standard calling with basic features without much room for customization.
Why You Need an Enterprise VoIP Solution: The Benefits
There are many enterprises today that believe Voice over IP (VoIP) is temporary. Many organizations feel that a better solution may be right around the corner. Some think they can continue to just maintain their on-premises solution for the long haul.
Unfortunately for these companies this thinking can hurt them. Let’s take a look at the benefits of an enterprise VoIP solution.
Benefits to Implementing Hosted VoIP Phone Services
As you are likely aware, there are many advantages in adopting VoIP at your business.
Businesses tend to adopt new technology for two main reasons:
- to save money
- to improve customer service
Let’s briefly examine a few benefits for organizations who trim their monthly telecom expenses and boost their customer service with an enterprise VoIP solution.
Benefit #1: Lower Monthly Maintenance and Usage Costs
Enterprises that implement VoIP, benefit from lower monthly maintenance and usage costs. They can also look forward to lowered capital expenses, since maintenance, repairs, and upgrades are all generally handled by the VoIP provider.
This is due—at least in part—to the reduction in onsite equipment and infrastructure with a simplified, easy-to-use management interface which often eliminates the need for an onsite phone support team.
Benefit #2: Portability of Most Enterprise VoIP systems
Another benefit to implementing VoIP at your organization includes the portability of most enterprise VoIP systems. These setups provide continuous access to the corporate phone system–whether working from home, a remote office, or on the road.
There are also further cost savings tied to this portability, as VoIP is not limited by location – eliminating long-distance charges from any employee location, regardless of distance. In addition, cloud-based VoIP services make it easy to scale to new locations and add new users.
Benefit #3: Help Enterprises to Improve Productivity and Response Times
The adoption of enterprise VoIP systems helps enterprises to realize improved productivity and response times. Comprehensive features such as unified inbox, unified messaging, and e-faxing allow employees to consolidate their work tools and increase the efficiency of their daily task management.
Benefit #4: Improved Customer Service
With the improvement in employee efficiency comes an improvement in customer service via boosted customer response times.
Your organization gains a new and more responsive form of customer service. For example, “click to talk/connect” has become a popular option for online retailers with busy customer service operations.
With click to talk, online customers who want to speak with a live customer service representative can click on a hyperlink and be connected (via VoIP) with the most appropriate rep for some human-to-human support.
After reviewing all the benefits, it should be clear to see that it makes logical sense to evaluate and implement VoIP at your enterprise.
Doing so provides numerous advantages to ensure that your company minimizes phone system costs while maximizing employee productivity, efficiency, and customer and vendor satisfaction.
Just be sure that you are speaking to a VoIP provider that is truly enterprise grade.
Core Enterprise VoIP Solution Features
Your enterprise VoIP solutions must contain a few key features and capabilities to be truly “enterprise” grade.
There are at least 10 core features to look for, depending on your company’s requirements, but let’s talk about the top 3 features that are the easiest to spot and nearly every organization (with 100+ users) needs.
1. Professional Installation, Training and Support
As a company with hundreds of employees you do not have the time or expertise to install your own hosted phone system. Nor does it make sense for you to hire an expensive third-party to install your provider’s hosted system.
It is also not feasible for your IT department to conduct company-wide training sessions on the new phone system.
Also, after its installation, you shouldn’t have to call a third-party vendor to come troubleshoot your company’s handsets.
Instead, enterprise-grade hosted VoIP providers take care of these concerns for you with professional, on-site installation and support, as well as training for your entire organization.
An enterprise solution provider knows you need one company that will take full responsibility for installation, training, maintenance, and service.
2. Customizable User Templates
As a leader in your organization, you know your users are always changing. People are hired, fired, and promoted nearly every day. Each individual will have certain (and different) permissions activated or blocked on your organization’s phone system.
What if every single time an employee was hired or promoted, the IT staff had to reference an Excel spreadsheet and manually enable or disable each of the appropriate features for the person’s phone system account.
You’d be thinking, “We should be able to create a template, so I don’t have to keep doing this. Doesn’t anyone else have this problem?”
An enterprise phone system will have this feature and make it easier to support and expand your system to accommodate personnel changes.
3. Custom Software Integration
If a hosted VoIP provider has a list of only three software applications they integrate with (i.e. Salesforce, Outlook and Google)... it is not an enterprise solution.
An enterprise-grade hosted VoIP provider will build-out any type of software integration you require. They are aware your company needs applications like your Oracle ERP system to integrate with the phone system and they are ready to accommodate.
So, what if you can’t find a hosted VoIP provider with all 3 of these features? Don’t settle and don’t think hosted VoIP is only suited for small companies. The reality is hosted VoIP is just as beneficial to large companies as small, as long as you have a true enterprise VoIP provider.
PanTerra Networks provides everything your organization needs–and more! Our enterprise VoIP solution will take your enterprise’s communication to the next level.
When you need a phone service that is always available, your business requires the very best communication. Click here to quickly fill out a quick form. Our enterprise VoIP Specialists will contact you shortly with your quote.