The best business phone systems of 2018 business.com gas pain

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Businesses have more choices than ever when it comes to phone systems. Whether they want a landline, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), on-premises, cloud-hosted or completely virtual system, businesses now have hundreds of options. With this vast selection, finding a phone system that is right for your business can often be a difficult undertaking.

The first questions to answer are what type of phone connection you want – landline, VoIP or virtual – and whether you want the system hosted on premises or in the cloud. You then need to consider features, mobility access, cost and customer service before settling on which system is best for you. With so much to consider, we want to help you narrow down your choices.

Besides highlighting how each type of system differs and providing a rundown of the different business phone system costs structures, this guide also offers our recommendations on the systems we think fit best for various needs. Specifically, 8×8, RingCentral, Cisco, Ooma Office, Nextiva, Avaya, Grasshopper, Mitel, Jive and Vonage are the systems we think are best for different types of businesses. You can read more about each, and the types of organizations we think they are best for, below.

While these phone systems were extremely reliable, they required expensive equipment that was hard to install and maintain. Besides the copper wiring that had to be run through the business, landline systems also required a costly private branch exchange (PBX). The PBX is what was used to switch calls between the business and the telephone network. It’s also what was needed to offer various calling features, such as voicemail, conference calling and automated attendants.

Today, traditional analog landline systems are becoming obsolete. Telephone companies aren’t developing new analog systems and are no longer providing updates to the systems they used to offer. Finding IT professionals with the skills to keep these systems up and running is also increasingly difficult. Telephone companies have largely shifted their attention to VoIP technology. VoIP

Nearly all new business phone systems use VoIP. Instead of running on copper wiring like landline systems did, VoIP systems run on an internet connection. It’s the same connection most businesses already use to get online. Tapping into an existing data connection saves you the trouble and expense of installing and maintaining phone lines throughout your offices or stores.

In addition, VoIP systems work in conjunction with cheaper and less bulky PBX equipment. This allows small businesses to access a host of calling features they previously couldn’t afford, like automated attendants, conference calling and call recording. VoIP systems also easily integrate with computers, which lets employees make calls from their machines and have voicemails sent directly to their email, among other things. It can also be beneficial for businesses using customer relationship management (CRM) programs.

When VoIP was first introduced, there was much concern over the call quality. Many felt calls sounded staticky, and others had problems with calls dropping off. As the technology has improved, so has the quality of the calls. In fact, the connection quality difference between VoIP and landline is now so insignificant that most users have no idea when they are using VoIP and when they are on a landline connection.

Similar to landline systems, on-premises VoIP systems have all the PBX equipment installed and housed on location in each business. With this option, you are in total control of your system. You aren’t relying on anyone else to make sure it is running, and you can configure it to your exact specifications. However, since it is located at your place of business, your IT staff is responsible for all repairs or upgrades. On-premises systems also need to be professionally installed.

Another difference is security. On-premises systems don’t have the same security concerns as cloud-hosted solutions, since all the data is stored within your business. Experts say businesses with serious concerns about keeping their calls and phone system data private are best served by on-premises systems. This option allows businesses to configure their firewalls exactly as desired to protect the phone system from any type of intrusion.

Cloud-hosted phone systems are becoming popular among small businesses. With this type of phone system, all the equipment is housed and maintained in the cloud by your phone system provider, which handles all maintenance and upgrades. The only equipment the business needs is the phones themselves.

The downside to cloud-hosted solutions is that businesses are at the mercy of the phone system provider to keep their service up and running. To ensure this happens, most of the top vendors have several redundancies built into their systems. This includes having multiple data centers so that if one goes down, the data can be transferred seamlessly to another to ensure the continuation of service.

Today’s business phone systems provide much more than just a way for employees to talk with customers and clients. From instant messaging with co-workers to holding video and online meetings, business phone systems now offer a whole new range of functionality.

Part of this expansion in services has been the introduction of VoIP and cloud-hosted phone systems. Previously, all businesses used landline systems that operated on copper wire connections, and required large, expensive equipment to install and maintain on the premises. Now, landline systems are being pushed out the door in favor of VoIP systems, which operate on the same internet connection businesses are already using to get online.

Soon, nearly all U.S. phone users will be using VoIP. Research projects show that by the end of 2018, just 6 percent of U.S. phone users will still be using landline systems. In turn, the VoIP market is expected to grow by more than 10 percent a year through 2021.

Unlike landline systems, VoIP systems can be hosted either on premises or in the cloud. Since they don’t require any expensive upfront costs, cloud-hosted business phone systems are growing in popularity. Research from Information Week revealed that 70 percent of organizations have deployed, or are planning to deploy, their communications systems in the cloud.

Cost is a huge reason many organizations are jumping to the cloud. On-premises systems require major capital expenditures upfront, but cloud-hosted solutions charge a lower monthly per-user fee. The only upfront purchases businesses might have to make with cloud-hosted phone systems are IP phones. Research from Telzio revealed that businesses can save as much as 75 percent on their phone system costs when switching to VoIP.

In addition to traditional phone systems, some businesses, especially those with a remote workforce, opt for a virtual solution. Virtual phone systems are essentially extensive call-forwarding systems. Businesses have a main number, with each employee receiving their own extension. However, instead of transferring customers to an employee’s office phone, the virtual systems transfer those calls to mobile and home phones. Common Business Phone System Questions & Answers