Business Telephone Solutions – From PBX to VOIP and the Cloud

At Tele 2 we focus on providing small businesses on the Sunshine Coast and surrounding
area with the tools they need to succeed. But occasionally the tools that are invaluable to
business are outside the comfort zone of business owners, and result in puzzling
headlines like the one above!

So that’s our mission today: to explain how business telephone usage is changing and the
advantages that can be integrated into your business now or in the future.

PBX

PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, which most laypeople know as the business switchboard. For decades, this relatively simple tool has been the backbone of central office lines by serving as the pillar of all communication, from calls between employees to outbound calls from inside the organisation and receiving external calls to internal numbers.

The office line provides connections to the public network (such as the copper network built and operated by Telstra) and PBX systems act as a magnifier than allows the external lines to be shared by internal numbers within the organisation.

It’s not just phones either, older tools like fax machines, desktop phones and computer
modems are all networked into a PBX system and have unique numbers to identify them.
The appeal early on for PBX systems were the cost savings, as having an internal
switchboard meant that companies did not have to pay the flagfall costs of the network
operator every time they wanted to make a call. The technology evolved to include things
we now take for granted like group calls, call forwarding and voice mail inboxes.

VOIP

But just as the advent and evolution of PBX was driven by cost savings, a new technology has taken the place of PBX systems as the most efficient way to communicate in the 21st century business environment. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is essentially an amalgamation of the telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell and the Internet. The basic foundation of the system is that the internet connection can carry the load of a call instead of the fixed infrastructure of phone lines and handsets.

The options from this are much more diverse than a standard PBX line too. For visual
professsions, VOIP allows much more than just voice calls.

For example, an architect could send a video or slide pack over a VOIP call while narrating
the presentation. Similarly, for teaching roles or conferences, the ability to add visuals like
diagrams and illustrations or graphs and tables adds a whole new dimension to
communication that standard phone calls lack, which enables business owners to really
harness the power of the internet to drive their growth.

Recent Trends

Recent data done by Microsoft shows that the change from traditional phone calls to cloud based VOIP systems is well under way. The study, which was published in May this year, showed that of those businesses that had a VOIP system available, only 1 in 5 still used a physical handset. The approach of the businesses who had adopted the new systems was to ditch the physical handset completely and simply use their computer as the “physical” hardware accompanied by a headset that was linked to the computer by cable or wirelessly using Bluetooth.

The adopters rated the ease of use, the space savings and the convenience of not having to juggle a handset while doing computer based tasks, such as taking notes and data entry, as the key reasons for their preference toward the VOIP system.

The survey also showed that less than half of businesses surveyed had traditional desk phones for the majority of their employees, with around 55% saying that more than half of employees had converted to the VOIP systems.

What it All Means

While one survey is not enough to overhaul your entire offices business operations and
phone systems, it certainly does raise some interesting talking points for business owners
to consider. Just as mobile phones replaced fixed handsets, and text messaging and email
took over some of the regular call functions of businesses, VOIP is the next big trend that
is underway that will affect the business environment.

The user experience is strongly positive, with survey respondents saying that they’d
recognised the benefits from day one of the new system, and the learning curve was not
as steep as first feared.

If you’re interested in getting the advantage of VOIP for your business or just want some
friendly advice about how best to manage your phone systems, whether they’re the high
quality systems we sell or the new cloud based systems, we’d love to
help. Contact us by clicking here.