This whitepaper explains why you should move away from proprietary solutions and straight to a VoIP phone system running on a mainstream, commercially supported operating system.

Introduction

The traditional PBX as we know it has reached its sell-by date. Once the pinnacle of communications, the traditional black box PBX with its PSTN lines has seen a momentous decline and will no doubt be obsolete within the next decade. All this was made possible with the advent of VoIP and advancements in communication technology. The VoIP phone system brought about ease of use, cost efficiency, accessibility, and the number of added features, that made the traditional PBX a much less popular choice. The Global IP Telephony market is estimated to account for US$ 25.26 Bn in 2017 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 10.1% to account for US$ 63.47 Bn by 2027.

We are now seeing a large number of leading Telco providers switching to VoIP. Migration plans are starting to take shape across Europe, with many countries at various phases of implementation. In Germany, Telekom Deutschland began to convert all voice and data connections to IP in 2015 and by the end of 2018 around 15.4 million lines had been migrated, representing an overall conversion rate of 86%. The operator states that at the end of this year, the largest part of the process will be completed, with the remaining voice connections in the business customer segment set to be transferred in 2020.

How it all began

VoIP transmission started in 1973, however, it wasn’t until 1995 that the first Internet Phone Software was created. This first softphone by Vocaltec compressed the voice signal, translated it into digital packets, and distributed it over the Internet. Of course, sound quality and features have improved greatly over time, but the core technology of IP telephony remains the same- i.e being able to send voice, fax, video and data traffic over an IP (Internet Protocol) network. This is unlike traditional PBXs that require their own PSTN network which needs to be completely rewired if you choose to relocate.

VoIP telephony for the masses started in around 2004 with the introduction of VoIP calling plans which allowed subscribers to make calls just as they would with conventional telephone company services. This introduced large savings in phone bills. However cutting costs, although often perceived as the principal factor, is not the only benefit to switching to an IP phone system, as this article explains. If you’re still one of the few who remains reluctant to switch, here are ten reasons why you should.

Top 10 Reasons to Change

1. Cost-saving – Upon Purchase and Over Time

Let’s face it. No matter the size of the business, everybody is looking to cut costs. With business expansion comes a steep increase in telco costs. Not so with a software-based phone system. Not only is it less costly to set up, but also the savings over time can be as high as up to 80% as seen here in case studies on Lorenzo Motor Lodge and Wiltshire College.

Using SIP trunking with a VoIP PBX you can connect to lower-cost VoIP providers. The SIP Trunking service is usually provided by an internet service provider (ISP). Unlike a PSTN provider, the lines provided are not physical lines, but a service provided over your internet connection. These phone numbers and lines are usually purchased at better rates than the traditional providers and with more flexibility and shorter contract durations.

Using SIP trunking with a VoIP pbx

Telephone bill reductions are especially obvious when making inter-office international calls and other long-distance calls since these can be made through the Internet for free or at significantly reduced rates. What’s more, your customers can also benefit. With International DIDs (Direct Inbound Dialling), IP Telephony and WebRTC communications, they are able to call you at a lower cost or for free, increasing their satisfaction.

2. No Special Hardware Required

Since modern servers have ample processing power, a software-based PBX can run on an existing server, saving on hardware cost, energy consumption and administration costs. No need for a dedicated machine or a low-performance appliance. See recommended hardware specifications needed to install 3CX phone system depending on company size and simultaneous calls usage.

By working with a leading server hardware vendor of your choice (such as Dell, HP, IBM/Lenovo), you are also guaranteed worldwide on-site support. This is not the case with PBX appliances from smaller vendors that cannot guarantee worldwide service and replacements within acceptable time frames. What’s more, outdated, proprietary systems are increasingly difficult to maintain. As newer software solutions become more popular, these old systems are becoming obsolete and unsupported, making finding replacement parts extremely costly and difficult. See use case with Argus Group for more information.

3. Go On-premise or in The Cloud – The Choice is Yours

An IP PBX gives you the choice of where to install depending on the solution that best fits your business. You can install the IP PBX on-premise on Windows or Linux (leveraging your existing servers), or deploy in the cloud. The choice of Windows or Linux will largely depend on your IT infrastructure and the experience of your administrators. Clearly, your PBX should not demand additional skills from your team or require you to buy additional hardware or support agreements with operating system vendors.

Install the VoIP Phone System on-premise or in the cloud

If your IT department relies on Windows and knows Windows, choose a Windows-based solution. If you use Linux, then a Linux solution will suit you best. Do not let the PBX features or price override your choice of operating system. Your PBX should be just another server application, which can be run on the same servers and with the same network management tools that you use today. There should be no need to learn a new black box.

Alternatively, you can run your PBX as a virtual instance using Hyper­-V, VMware or KVM. These are great virtualization platforms with superior I/O performance which allow you to virtualize your PBX, even for larger installations.

However, if you don’t want the hassle of maintaining your own PBX, with an IP PBX, it is possible to host with a service provider and register your IP Phones to the hosted IP PBX in their premises over the Internet. For a monthly fee, the service provider will take care of the hardware/software and maintenance of the hosted IP PBX.

4. Easy Install and Management

Installation and configuration is a piece of cake compared with proprietary phone systems which are cumbersome and a nightmare to configure. The traditional PBX often requires complex CLI Commands to manage, which are proprietary to each vendor. With an IP PBX, any tech-savvy person with a basic idea of networking will find navigating through the web-based GUI a breeze. Through the UI, one can manage anything from setting up multiple extensions, adding users, and managing additional unified communication features. All this can also be done by the admin remotely. Whereas with a traditional PBX, in case of any technical issue, you will have to wait for the technician to arrive at your physical premises to resolve it.

5. Easy to Scale Making Room for Company Growth

With an IP PBX, you are able to add more users/extensions as and when you need it, as well as choosing and customizing the features which suit each department.

Because your PBX is running on a modern server, it’s easy to scale compared to a traditional PBX or an appliance. Modern server hardware will allow you to add almost unlimited extensions, lines, and functions because servers have ample processing power.

Appliances, on the other hand, are limited by the number of telephony ports and by their limited processing power and memory. Your appliance will literally hang up as soon as you start adding more lines, phones, and making use of more processor-intensive functions such as conferencing. Before you know it you will need to discard your old appliance and buy a new ‘bigger’ appliance.

6. Failover / Fault Tolerance and Security

Software-based also means that you can easily backup your whole PBX. In the event of a hardware failure, you can restore your phone system on another machine in a matter of minutes using the inbuilt backup function. If you are running your PBX virtually, you can use the Hyper-V,  VMware or KVM Backup function to save a complete copy of your PBX to disk.

If you are running a proprietary black box solution or a hardware appliance PBX, you will be without a PBX until you can get a physical replacement which will probably require reconfiguration.

When it comes to security, IP Phones are also capable of encrypting conversations deterring hackers from listening to voice calls over the IP Network.

7. Unified Communications to Boost Productivity

Through Unified Communications (UC) features, a software-based phone system can integrate and enable various communication methods within the business. Phone calls, video conferencing, SMS, email and Live Chat can be connected for users to share and access data all from one centralized location, in real-time. This helps improve collaboration, boosts productivity, increases mobility and while enhancing the customer experience. Find out more about how unified communications can increase your business productivity.

UC features allow you to:

  • View the status of other colleagues avoiding unnecessary call transfers or voice mail tags.
  • Send inbound faxes converted to PDF via email, without the need of any fax server software.
  • Send voicemails converted to sound files and forwarded via email.
  • Allow employees to communicate together via instant messaging, without the need to rely on third-party internet messaging systems.
  • Hold audio and video conferences with multiple people.

8. Facilitate Remote Working

2019 study by Owl Labs states that “52% of employees around the world work remotely at least once per week, and 68% work remotely at least once per month.” With this astounding rise in remote workers and the increasing number of companies using hot desking, employees need to be able to answer their desk phone from a variety of devices and from wherever they are working.

Through IP Telephony, employees can plug in an IP phone at home to their Internet connection and dial using their office extension. Or they can download an app on their smartphone to receive landline calls on their mobile phone, through a Wi-Fi Network. Making the mobile phone a land-line extension. In addition, most modern IP PBX solutions include web clients/apps so that users can use their extension and make phone calls with their browser and a headset. Employees will no longer need to give out their office mobile number or worse their personal number because they can take their phone number with them.

“14% of remote workers are dedicating time to more than 10 meetings per week (vs. only 3% of on-site workers)”. (The State of Remote Work 2019, Owl Labs). How are these meetings being conducted? With an Analog/Digital EPABX only simple built-in conference facilities are available, often limiting it to 3 to maximum 8 party conference calls at a given point of time. But with an IP PBX you can enable a Web Conference with multiple attendees and facilitate enhanced collaboration with video, screen-sharing, whiteboard and more. There can be multiple such conference rooms and several callers in each meeting, making remote working even more accessible.

9. Integrate with Other Applications

Another major advantage of a software-based PBX is that it integrates easily with your other business applications and uses the same APIs. It’s no longer a black box sitting in the corner refusing to talk to the rest of your applications. By integrating with other applications you gain features as well as increase productivity:

  • Easily talk to other systems such as CRM, mail or database server and greatly improve productivity and customer service.
  • Match a caller ID to a customer and know who is calling.
  • Automatically log calls with customers for reporting and customer service purposes.

A Software-based PBX will also allow you to connect with your User Directory of choice, be it LDAP or Active Directory. Ensure that user data is not duplicated and remains up to date, saving valuable administration time and ensuring user data is correct and synchronized.

10. Call Center Features

Call center functionality within proprietary PBX has proven to be either too expensive or difficult to set up. With an IP PBX you can have inbuilt features such as Call Queuing, Group Ringing, Automatic Call Distribution and more. You have the ability to monitor in real-time or generate reports to review answered calls, abandoned calls, average longest waiting time and so on.

Advanced call center features

There are also additional unified communications features, such as website live chat, which can be easily implemented and managed through the same communications platform. With as much as 79% of customers now preferring live chat support over other channels of communication, this enables businesses to further increase customer satisfaction. Through an IP PBX, you have more control over your call centre, ensuring no call is ever left unattended.  

Conclusion

Choosing the right phone system for your business is one of the most important decisions you will take. Failure to get onboard the software-based route could leave your company lagging behind. And in this competitive world where customer satisfaction is so important, a unified communications system available only via a software-based phone system is the only answer. Instead, search for the right IP PBX provider for you. One that can offer you the best value for money. Ensure it comes equipped with the UC and call centre features required for Your business. Think ahead by anticipating what your company needs will be when in growth – so as not to be stuck with purchasing costly add-ons at a later stage. Look out for vendors that are open platform and won’t lock you into their own devices, as this can be costly and will most likely mean that you will have to replace them if you want to change the system in the future. Make sure that support is readily available and that it is easy enough for you to manage yourself. And remember, a connected workplace is your key to a successful business.

About 3CX

3CX is a 100% channel company and is the developer of an open standards software IP PBX which innovates communications and replaces proprietary PBXs. 3CX cuts telco costs and boosts company productivity and mobility.

With integrated WebRTC web conferencing; apps for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS and the web; and a full suite of collaboration features, 3CX offers companies a complete communications package out of the box.

250,000 customers worldwide use 3CX including McDonalds, Hugo Boss, Ramada Plaza Antwerp, Harley Davidson, Wilson Sporting Goods and Pepsi. Maintaining its global presence, 3CX has offices in the U.S., U.K., Germany, South Africa, Russia and Australia. Visit 3CX on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.