being involved in ip telephony since 2000, i've seen many different solutions for many different reasons.
the main reason VoIP, ip phones/telephony, are a draw to customers is two fold:
first, there was the ability to have a mission critical service, telephony, to be added to an already existing data network.
this had the benefit of being able to use one data administrator to manage two systems, (vs. a data tech and a telephone tech), as well as requiring only one infrastructure to support data and telephony. COST SAVINGS and quicker Return On Invenstment were the major goals.
second, with the telephony riding on top of the data network, companies could now be spread across the world and have 'free' telephony costs between their sites. (vs. long distance or international costs for calls) again, COST SAVINGS...it's all about saving money, producing a bigger bottom line, increasing revenues while decreasing costs.
now the tricky part...when does a company actually gain the benefits of cost savings and increased revenue production by switching to VoIP?
in my experience, it really depends on the costs you are currently providing to support a data network and telecommunications, as well as, can a company benefit from 'toll free telephony'; aka toll bypass.
the concept of aggregating two autonomous systems into a single heterogenous system seems simple. eliminate two systems and create one. easier to manage, requires less personnel to administer and the cost savings.
it is right for a company, no matter what size, to move to VoIP when these are actual factors to consider and the benefits and savings out weigh the costs.
do you have more than one site for your company? if so, are your telephone bills high enough to justify the costs of a VoIP solution? (in other words, can you save money with toll bypass? (not paying for your calls between locations and the geographical areas they cover.))
do you have multiple administrators performing the data communications and telephony functions? if so, can you eliminate one of these costs if you implement VoIP? (will this actually reduce your overhead?)
now, i will state that these may not be the only factors to consider. for example, i switched to Vonage VoIP for my home. why? because it is just plain cheaper. $27.00 per month...PERIOD, (plus $10 for every additional line.), vs. a regular telephone line which had monthly costs over the $27 whether i made calls or not. that was a no brainer for me. i save about $40+ per month.
as far as a company is concerned, the previously mentioned factors are a big part of the decision.
one last thing to consider is that not only can VoIP help reduce costs and increase productivity, but once you have VoIP (cisco solution) there are so many more features and services you can provide your users and customers. these alone can justify the reasoning of moving to VoIP.
bottom line, you'll have to do some number crunching. if you don't mind sharing your costs for data communications, telephony, company size and future growth expectations with us, perhaps we can better recommend if VoIP is right for you yet.
I too am currently considering an upgrade to VoIP in my Business. Our company is expanding services to states across the country which means lots of traveling for some employees and lots of additional long distance calls to customers. I have a local company that provides VoIP telephony I am considering using that would allow me to bypass the toll PSTN...woot no long distance. However the ability to make users mobile, almost entirely by being able to take their phone extension with them and still work as if the where just down the hall is a major boon to the solution as well.
I have however run in to some questions of my own while trying to compile the solution that fits my needs. I have sever POTS lines now that I would like to convert to VoIP and as I understand it the newest version of call manager express suports usint these VoIP lines but I get conflicting notions on how. This is to say it only supports one of these VoIP lines, or more can be added but it's a bit tricky to program. Assuming The solution can be made to work the factors above are what have been involved in helping me make my decision.
I agree with you on the VoIP cost factor. I've been designing IP pbx's with IP phones but I've been keeping the traditional analog lines. I haven't run into any smaller businesses yet that have actually needed VoIP service, and even if it came close I would still opt for analog just because of the pricing. Has anyone seen what bigger name companies are getting for SIP trunks? 30 dollars on average per trunk, providing 1 DID number and another simultaneous phone call. After researching pricing I've asked myself a few times, yay for VoIP, what's the point? As far as the market's concerned, that's highway robbery. Oh and did I mention they were also charging cents/minute on long distance..
In my opinion making the descision to go VOIP is the result of a cost/benefit analysis. If your business model is moving towards more mobile users, obtaining a $ figure on the mobile phone costs involved v. extension mobility/jabber/Tail end hop off etc will enable you to potentially sell a migration to VOIP to your management. At the end of the day this is all that counts.
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