Why Migrate to VoIP? The Numbers Don’t Lie
Jun 27, 2019
Customers often ask me: "Why should I migrate to VoIP? Our current voice infrastructure works perfectly fine. I’m happy with the existing PBXs that have been serving us well for the past 20 years."
That may well be the case. The upside of "good old Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM)" can’t be ignored. TDM is a proven, reliable technology that works within the comfort zone of the providers that maintain these infrastructures.
On the downside, traditional telephony systems are extremely complex. They consist of a legacy PBX, SS7 telephony trunks (POTS lines) and digital ISDN services provided by carriers such as Verizon or AT&T. This setup requires extensive maintenance for the PBX, MACDs, troubleshooting and on-site technicians. In addition, ISDN service includes monthly bills, based on number of users. (One ISDN line typically serves 100 people, so you can do the math.) Apart from being expensive, the service is inflexible, as pricing doesn’t reflect fluctuations in usage.
All this complexity has a significant bottom line impact. Over a five-year period, an organization – regardless of size – can easily pay 60 percent more for a traditional telephony system than for a VoIP solution. For a business with as few as ten employees, the additional cost can exceed $20K over the five-year span. Scale that to an international enterprise with several thousand users, and you’re talking real money.
Compelling as the numbers are, and despite widespread awareness of VoIP benefits, many businesses remain reluctant to make the switch. One constraint is human nature and discomfort with change. Beyond the “It’s-been-working-fine-for-years-why-switch?” argument, disruption is a concern. Will installing equipment take a long time? Will users have to learn to use new technology? Will customers notice a difference and be inconvenienced?
The reality is that in most instances, VoIP migration is a smooth and seamless process. The existing PBX is forklifted from the office site and replaced with Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches, IP phones and voice gateway routers with survivability features. A centralized call control system provides dial-plan and call control for the entire organization. Most office sites already have a switch and router servicing the data network. VoIP can easily be added to this existing LAN and WAN infrastructure. An IP trunking service delivers public switched access, allowing the business to communicate with the outside world with the same level of functionality as before (to, for example, order pizza for lunch).
While the transition itself is relatively painless, the challenge lies in choosing a VoIP solution that aligns with your business’ specific requirements. Hosted IP Telephony systems and Unified Communication and Collaboration platforms are now a commodity and available in a variety of shapes and forms. Options include hosted IP-PBX, cloud-based solutions and customer data center models. Features range from basic IP phone and dial tone, to more complex UCCaaS solutions that include mobility clients, IM and contact center capabilities.
Choosing the right bundle of technology components requires assessing a variety of criteria, including number and distribution of locations and users, geo-redundancy, solution architecture (hosted vs cloud vs customer premise), existing LAN/WAN infrastructure and migration path. Scalability and flexibility needs are another consideration – is the business poised to expand? Do bandwidth requirements fluctuate dramatically? Defining the appropriate mix involves industry-specific business insight as well as technical expertise.
Beyond aligning with immediate needs, a VoIP solution can be an integral part of a longer-term digital transformation strategy. Specifically, Unified Communications and Collaboration platforms can support mobile apps, AI-powered virtual assistants, chatbots and visual interactive voice recognition systems. These capabilities are essential for enterprises seeking to optimize operations, drive digital transformation and deliver a more engaging customer experience.
Done right, VoIP migration can deliver positive ROI and significant cost savings, as well as support a digital journey that fundamentally redefines the way that business is done.