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Small Business

With hosted VoIP, small businesses can reduce telecommunication costs and enhance collaboration between employees.

Smaller businesses are turning to cloud-based services for a variety of applications, especially hosted voice over IP (VoIP). According to AMI-Partners, 30 percent of small businesses and 50 percent of medium businesses believe VoIP will become critical to their business operations in the near future. Hosted voice services offer many benefits, from reducing upfront costs to accessing advanced communications technologies, and they’re no longer considered a risky way to acquire business applications. Because hosted VoIP removes the burden of maintaining separate phone systems, it offers particular advantages to small businesses with remote offices or mobile employees.

A hosted voice service, such as Cisco Hosted Small Business (HSB) Communications, is the great equalizer. It can lower the cost of remote employees communicating with colleagues. It can also help a mobile sales force stay in touch both with their contacts in the field and back at headquarters. All employees, no matter where they’re working, have access to the same calling and messaging features through the hosted voice service, including extension dialing and conferencing.

Connecting on the cheap

A hosted voice service significantly reduces the burden that on-site phone systems place on the staff that manages them. With a VoIP service, you don’t have to install, maintain, and manage the phone systems at each location. You also don’t need to pay for residential landline services for employees working in home offices.

Whether you have a branch office with several employees, a couple remote offices with a handful of workers in each one, or a mobile sales team, hosted voice can tie them all together with your main office on a single telecommunications network. A hosted VoIP solution can be extended to remote locations much more easily than a premise-based solution—employees simply connect to your company’s voice service through the Internet. And as you add new employees, you can quickly and easily provision new extensions.

Hosted voice can also greatly reduce the cost of communications between locations. Because all calls between remote locations and the main facility are on the same network, they can usually be placed for free, eliminating monthly long distance charges. Depending on your service provider, you might also be able to get discounted long distance packages by consolidating all of your business phone lines under a single hosted voice service. You’ll receive one monthly bill for all calls placed by all employees, regardless of their location.

Going mobile, appearing local

Most hosted VoIP offerings now also seamlessly integrate with employees’ mobile phones and smartphones. Basic mobility features usually include call management and call routing, which forwards incoming calls made to a business number to a cell phone number.

Some service providers are now offering client software that allows employees’ smartphones to act as a desk phone. These applications extend hosted voice service features to smartphones, including extension dialing, call transfer, caller ID, and more. These apps also let users make and receive calls through the hosted telecommunication network, which saves phone and data charges against their personal plans.

With a hosted voice service, small businesses can reduce the cost of telecommunications among all its locations. And because employees are all on the same network with the same calling and messaging features, hosted VoIP can also help them collaborate more effectively. Finally, hosted voice can be the first step toward unified messaging and other advanced communication and collaboration applications, including unified communications.

Have you extended a hosted voice service to a remote location or to remote employees? We’d like to hear how your company has benefited from the service.

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