Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are saying goodbye to cumbersome and costly communications systems and are quickly realizing the advantages of VoIP-based solutions. VoIP allows businesses to move away from traditional PBX systems and integrate their voice and data communication into a single converged IP network. Additionally, some vendors offer businesses both broadband and voice services and the consolidation greatly reduces IT headaches, improves efficiency and most importantly, saves money.
The VoIP market is predicted to grow as high as $3.3 billion worldwide by 2010 according to a recent Yankee Group study. Hosted VoIP is on pace to be the fastest-growing segment with $1.2 billion projected revenue by 2010 (from $233 million in 2005). The rise of VoIP over VPN (Virtual Private Network) is estimated to reach $1.25 billion by 2010 (from $268 million in 2005) and VoIP real-time QoS bandwidth is projected to reach $822 million in 2010 (from $338 million in 2005).
The popularity of Hosted VoIP service is especially on the rise because of its cost-saving attributes and advanced calling features. According to the Yankee Group, 70 percent of SMBs indicate they would prefer a Hosted VoIP solution to a premise-based hosted VoIP solution. Companies that couldnt fathom a large-scale PBX installation and maintenance are embracing Hosted VoIP because it gives them control and flexibility at a manageable price.
Hosted VoIP has many key attributes from investment and efficiency standpoints including:
No equipment leases and maintenance agreements.
Administration is Web-based which greatly reduces IT time.
Businesses enjoy nationwide access between its offices without dedicated circuits.
Unlimited long distance calling.
Pace International was looking for a more cost-effective and efficient way to maintain contact with its 100 employees spread across two states, as well as 11 nationwide warehouses and eight international offices. The company wanted a system that streamlined phone management by letting them out-source the headaches and keep control of the administration. They settled on a Hosted VoIP solution with a Web tool that simplified moves and also includes automated call routing, four-digit dialing between all of its offices and unlimited long distance. Paces VoIP and broadband provider is Speakeasy, which assigns customers a single point of contact to assist them with their voice and data needs. This allows the customer to benefit from a dedicated communications specialist at no additional charge. This contributes to Pace Internationals estimated savings of 20 percent in IT time each month. More dramatically, the company predicts it will realize a $65,000 annual savings in long distance charges, conference
calling and phone system connectivity costs, which represents approximately 25 percent of its communications budget.
Seattle game developer Flying Lab Software needed a phone system that could scale quickly as the company grew, but with minimal overhead. It too selected Hosted VoIP, which provided them with easy and fast management and configuration. Traditional cabling and wiring associated with moves/adds/changes were replaced with Web-based simplicity and new phone lines are now easily added as needed. This seamless solution allows them to accommodate employees who travel or work from remote locations. The features that came with their Hosted VoIP solution enables employees to stay connected as if they are in the office. For Flying Lab, it was important that key features were not tied to a desk phone. Their mobile employees use unified messaging, which delivers voice messages to their e-mail accounts, and a find me/follow me function, which ensures that calls always reach employees. Flying Lab reduced its monthly telecom bills by 27 percent, has nearly three times as many lines for almost a third less the cost of
their old system and has predictable monthly bills.
Flying Lab founder Russell Williams is direct in his assessment of VoIP: Business VoIP gives small companies like ours the capabilities of a PBX solution for just a small, up-front investment and none of the management headaches. Theres no solution like it.
Simply, businesses are realizing that they cant afford not to consider Hosted VoIP solutions. By simplifying and consolidating resources, they can focus on the business that really matters: their own. IT
Bruce Chatterley is President and CEO of Speakeasy. For more information please visit the company online at www.speakeasy.net (news - alerts).
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