The ‘how’ and ‘what’ of cloud telephony
Making phone calls as if you were in the office, with your fixed and mobile phones and computer integrated, via a switchboard running in a cloud environment: that’s cloud telephony in a nutshell.
But how exactly does it work? And how can you use it to give your customers even better service? We explain below.
Cloud telephony is a form of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). It integrates all kinds of communication – phone calls, video calls and chat, via fixed and mobile phones and computers – on a single platform that you don't have in a room or basement of your own, but rent, as it were, from a third party. Quite different from forty or so years ago, when you still needed a real, physical telephone switchboard to confer easily with your customers and colleagues, live. If you wanted to talk to someone, you took the receiver off the hook, waited for the dial tone and dialled or keyed in your contact’s number – there was no other option but to use the telephone.
Even today, businesses still make and receive a lot of phone calls. That’s why many companies still have a physical telephone switchboard, better known as a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone system, which connects all the internal phones with each other, but also enables you to call the outside world. The thing is, you don't need that expensive switchboard in-house at all any more. You don't need to buy it. And, above all, you no longer have to take care of the expensive management, the security or the extra servers associated with it. Thanks to the internet, you can simply opt for a switchboard in the cloud instead of this hardware. All your calls will go not just via the internet, but via a server belonging to a host – such as Destiny. And that single switchboard in the cloud immediately takes care of all telecom traffic in your company, regardless of whether you work at one location or from five, ten or twenty other offices. Wokring from home? That's no problem either: your cloud switchboard can handle it all.
Curious about the many advantages of the switchboard in the cloud? Download our free white paper here and read all about them.
You’ll not only save on the expensive purchase and equally expensive management of a physical switchboard by opting for a cloud switchboard: you won't have to buy an assortment of fixed phone devices either. Your colleagues can just get in touch with each other and with your customers via their computer (using a so-called “softphone”) and their smartphone. Everyone will benefit from an integrated cloud communications platform that will not only enable them to communicate and collaborate smoothly, but also has all the features that your employees are used to from their fixed phones in the office. Fixed Mobile Convergence or FMC is the name for this merger of your fixed and mobile devices. You can read about exactly how it works and about its advantages in this blog.
Almost all cloud telephony platforms currently use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). This technology – as the name suggests – transmits your voice via the IP network. Specifically, your voice is digitised and sent to the recipient in digital packets through the internet or a local network. After that, the sound is decoded and converted back into speech. Naturally, all this happens at lightning speed.
You can always decide to have your VoIP system run via an in-house PBX – call it a box in your server room. But it’s even easier just to have your switchboard operate via the cloud.
A cloud switchboard has quite a few advantages, but these are the main ones:
- Price: above all, it’s more cost-effective than a traditional telephone switchboard, because you no longer need to invest in hardware which will always have a sell-by date anyway. The software in the cloud grows with you, as it were, and you always have access to the latest version. What's more, you don't have to buy extra devices for every employee, because they simply communicate using their computer (laptop or desktop) and smartphone.
- Flexibility (1): when you hire someone new, you just add that person's profile by clicking a button. No more long, complicated processes.
- Flexibility (2): your employees are no longer dependent on a physical place to work. They still need their phone, but by “phone” we don't mean the physical device, just their own number and preferences. As long as they have an internet connection, they can communicate smoothly with each other. And that's a huge advantage in these times of home working.
But above all, it’s the integration with other software applications that makes a VoIP switchboard really worthwhile. You can read all the advantages of VoIP, read this blog.
Can anyone just install an IP/VoIP switchboard? Well, yes and no. You do have to satisfy a set of technical conditions. Here, you will find a more detailed explanation about the equipment required to work with an IP/VoIP switchboard.