There was a time—now decades ago—when there was no choice: businesses had to call the local phone company to connect their office or building to a larger trunk line feeding a central switchboard. Simpler times, maybe, but not better. Limited connections meant limited channels in and out of a building. Peak times of communication could quickly overwhelm a local switchboard, grinding a business to a halt.
Every business decision drains time and intellectual energy from those tasked with managing it. Trying to figure out which system is right for a business, large or small, may seem daunting. But the potential value is alluring: the right system can encourage employee productivity, free employees from their desks, and allow near-infinite scalability as a company grows.
Cisco business phones are the obvious choice for the modern business. Still, no one should skip due diligence. Here’s what every decision maker should consider, and what makes Cisco telephony the industry’s frontrunner.
What to consider in a modern business phone system
Selecting a business phone system is a big decision, even for a small organization. Apart from the hardware expense, phones are a key component of client communication and internal collaboration. Bad decisions must be endured for years or expunged for thousands—sometimes millions—of dollars.
Before settling on a Cisco office phone or any other brand, keep these questions in mind:
- What business challenge is the company trying to solve? It’s easy to get inundated with whitepapers, brochures, and product demonstrations. The technical details can overwhelm managers and IT professionals alike. No decision, however, should escape the fundamental goal of improving the business. A new phone system should aim to solve a specific business need. That need should stay front and center throughout the process.
- PBX or VoIP? This question is fast becoming easier to answer. PBX phone systems represent the traditional landline service. While the technological standard for decades, PBX is not scalable for modern business. Limited lines throughout an office or outside it make scalability a constant and expensive headache. Because VoIP systems integrate with PBX, transitioning doesn’t require a total abandonment of an expensive PBX installation; VoIP can actually solve PBX limitations—for good.
- Fixed or virtual? For small businesses and startups, rows and rows of desks and phones might be an aspirational vision, not a reality. For some, that makes virtual phones a better choice. Virtual phones push voice data to existing cellular phones, saving investment capital for other projects while offering a fully transferable business line for professional communication. Virtual phones are similar to softphones, or Internet-based “phones” that operate through a computer and headset rather than traditional hardware. (Cisco softphone technology is available as part of a unified communications solution.)
- On-premise or cloud-based? On-premise versus cloud-based management of business phone systems hinges on the choice between upfront investment and recurring costs. Ownership and management of hardware make sense for large organizations that can endure the initial sticker shock of an on-premise installation and recoup that outlay in the years to come. For small businesses, cloud-based solutions offer far lower upfront costs and immediate, low-cost scalability.
What Cisco offers
For more than three decades, Cisco has offered businesses industry-leading communications solutions. Its nearly $50 billion in revenue for 2016 reflects the payoff from years of investment in research and technology.
That said, a long track record isn’t always an asset for a technology company. New innovators frequently upend Silicon Valley giants. But business telephone systems are a poor place to house risk. Apart from the challenge and cost of undoing a bad investment, the risks affect core business processes, causing frustration and miscommunication among both employees and clients.
Here are the reasons Cisco makes sense:
- Cisco’s lengthy track record of innovation is one vote in its favor. That vote is based on more than just years in business and total revenue, however. Considering an IP phone system? Cisco was the original innovator. Cisco began developing the technology in 1997 and has never looked back. Its wealth of experience offers confidence to potential consumers that Cisco has seen—and solved—every phone system challenge.
- With business phone systems, cutting-edge technology is a practical necessity, not a novelty. Need to push calls from the office to a mobile phone while out on a sales call? Easy. Need to quickly conference in a thirty-person sales team without overwhelming internal lines. No problem. (Video conferencing the whole team—right from their desk phones—is just as easy with Cisco.) These features, just a few of the many benefits of Cisco phone systems, are helping offices transition to modern, flexible work environments.
- Integrating a PBX system with a new VoIP phone system is a core process for many phone system providers. Far fewer, however, can integrate all the necessary telecommunications components of a busy enterprise. Cisco has experience building and managing the unified communication networks of hundreds of the world’s largest companies. Choosing a niche vendor inevitably results in choosing—and managing—many vendors, all to handle a single component of a business.
For businesses seeking the cheapest option, they can find it. Along with the potential for initial cost savings, they will encounter long-term headaches as they try to grow the business, keep employees engaged, and communicate effectively with clients. Hundreds or thousands saved on an initial purchase can become trivial if poor communication undermines either client or employee retention.
Cisco offers a range of phone systems that fit businesses in various stages of growth and with various communication needs. For companies ready to take the ever-smaller leap to VoIP, Cisco can help solve the immediate business challenge while maintaining flexibility for the future. Cisco phone systems pushed communications forward with the development of VoIP. Today’s unified communications solutions ensure businesses have the tools they need to shape the future in their industries.
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