What got businesses into the phone business was the need to manage anywhere from dozens to thousands of telephone sets within their organization. Why so many? Because the productivity that comes from each individual having their own telephone and phone number exceeds the cost of the equipment and service.
Back when most of us worked on the farm, one crank phone in the house was plenty. When we all became factory workers, a wall phone that you used on breaks served the need. Now that we’re in the information age, interpersonal communications is both necessary and frequent. We all need to talk to customers, suppliers and co-workers. The more efficiently we do this, the more profit the company makes.
This is how we got to telecom departments within companies. The telecom department manages the PBX, which is nothing more than a small version of a telephone company central office switch. All those handsets plug into the PBX and the PBX then connects them together like the phone company does. The PBX also manages outside lines for calls that enter and leave the company premises. In most cases, you dial outside with a one number access code just like you would call long distance anywhere else.
What the telecom department does is manage all those handsets. If one breaks, it has to be replaced. If someone changes desks, their phone number must be re-routed to their new location. That might even involve making some wiring changes. People are always coming and going, and their phone service needs to be accommodated too.
Some companies have two separate departments. One is just for telephones. The other is for computers and the company LAN. In a smaller company, one department might manage both networks. A very small company might outsource one or both functions to a contractor. But the cost of the activity is always there, no matter how you handle it.
The cost being in the phone business is both the cost of handling all those moves, adds and changes on a daily basis and the capital expense of all that equipment. The PBX system itself is an expensive piece of equipment. When it becomes too small to handle the number of extensions or too old to be easily maintained, you need to take out a loan and do what’s called a “fork lift upgrade” to haul out the old system and bring in the new one.
Now, what if there was an easy way to have all the communications ability you have now, and more, but not have to be in the phone business? There is such an option available and it’s called a hosted PBX. What “hosted” means is that someone else has the responsibility of managing the PBX equipment using their people at their facility. What you have is a big empty space where the PBX system used to sit and lots and lots of telephone sets.
When this is done right, an employee in your company won’t know or care where the PBX is. Their phone works just the same either way. In fact, it may work better because their old “dumb” phone has been replaced by a “smart” phone that connects to the computer network and has processing power built-in. The phone and the computer may work together or you may even have a “soft phone” as an application that runs on the computer.
It’s the ubiquity of the company computer network connected to every desk that makes the hosted PBX possible. By adapting telephones to transmit and receive Ethernet packets instead of analog voltages, they can piggyback on the broadband network that every company has anyway. That network invariably connects to the outside world or WAN, which can include a connection to a service provider hundreds or thousands of miles away. That service provider bears the capital cost and operating expense and performs the move/add/change function for you. They’re more efficient at doing this because that’s all they do, and they do it on a much larger scale than you did. In effect, we’re back to telephone as a service or, in today’s terms, voice as a service.
Are you reluctantly in the telephone business? If so, why not compare costs and features and see if a managed PBX hosting solution would be a better option for your company? There are more and better options available today than ever before.