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Features and benefits of an IP PBX

VoIP Phone Systems Buyer's Guide

The single biggest advantage of an IP PBX is for businesses with multiple locations. With VoIP, any and all offices on your network can get the benefits of having a common office phone system, including extension dialling, seamless call transfers, and all other features. In addition to making it easier to communicate, this can enhance collaboration because employees at different locations can truly feel they're part of the same organisation.

Plus, if they are on the company network, the phone calls are free - even if your offices are located thousands of miles apart. Simply looking at your current phone bill for calls between far-flung offices will give you an idea of how much you can save.

Simplified management

There are other cost savings that stem from the streamlined network infrastructure and improved administration. For network administrators, VoIP means they only have one network to maintain instead of two. There is still separate phone system hardware to maintain - but only one network.

The Move, Add, Change (MAC) process is also greatly simplified, because almost all VoIP systems are configurable through a web interface that the administrator can manage. This means lower ongoing costs -- you will not need to call your vendor for every MAC. And because multiple offices are seamlessly connected, they can share a single receptionist, auto-attendant, and voicemail system.

Additional features and integration

Even more compelling is the integration of business applications with your telephone service. VoIP can enhance communications that help users find the best way to contact colleagues-whether through a phone call, text, or email. When integrated with CRM applications, it can boost productivity by letting users place a phone call simply by clicking on someone's name in a Word document or web page.

Another significant benefit is for employees on the move. If your remote users connect to the company network via a Virtual Private Network (VPN), VoIP allows them to make phone calls from the road at no extra charge. One salesperson on an extended trip can save hundreds of pounds in mobile phone or hotel long distance charges. All that the user needs is a "soft phone," (software that lets a laptop function as an IP phone), a PC microphone, and speakers.

Other familiar and essential phone system features like caller ID, call forwarding, simultaneous ringing across multiple phones, and other features you would find in PBX systems are available in most VoIP systems.

An IP PBX should also work with advanced Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) applications such as call centre management. These popular applications prioritise incoming calls based on the caller's identity and automatically bring up account information when the phone is answered. However, there is little difference in this area between VoIP and modern digital phones.

You might also want to take advantage of IP videoconferencing. In the wake of rising travel costs, companies that used to gather far-flung employees together for important face-to-face conferences now turn to videoconferencing over IP.

Wireless solutions

With the extensive use of mobile phones in the business market, there is an obvious link to wireless VoIP. Since mobile phone coverage is often poor inside buildings, wireless VoIP offers some significant advantages. Your business will need to take a more detailed look at the state of wireless VoIP and weigh the benefits and risks.

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