Learn about the advantages & disadvantages of VoIP with this comprehensive guide from Gamma. Make the right choice for your business phone system.
Telephony is changing, but don’t worry, it’s for the better. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is starting to become more widely adopted in both large and small businesses, with the power to make calls through an internet connection seen as a huge step in the evolution of business communications. It’s a rapidly expanding market that’s estimated to be worth more than $100 billion worldwide by 2026. With the PSTN Switch Off in the UK edging closer and closer (it’ll be gone by 2025, by the way), moving away from the copper wire network is a necessary step for any business.
As with any major decision, business leaders need to know what the advantages and disadvantages are for investing in a VoIP phone system. Bringing in a whole new communication infrastructure will have a massive impact on not just the business itself, but also the way that employees work and collaborate with one another. Regardless of what size your business is, knowing the pros and cons of VoIP will be pivotal when deciding on how much of a difference the latest innovation in telephony can make.
The advantages of VoIP
Cost-effective way to communicate
It turns out that relying on an internet connection to make voice calls is far more cost-effective compared to landlines. Costs can be reduced by as much as 90%, which can be pivotal for startups and smaller businesses that have to contend with budget restrictions. These savings can be both direct, such as having no on-premise hardware that requires maintenance, and indirect, including the money saved from people commuting to work since businesses can rely on video calls. Indeed, international calls are cheaper to both make and receive, meaning work can truly go global without having to deal with the dread of facing a hefty phone bill.
Effective hybrid working models
VoIP phone systems are also cloud-based, opening the opportunity for businesses to collaborate from anywhere. With 44% of workers opting for either home or hybrid working, there is a greater need to satisfy the expectations and needs of those who opt to work remotely. Employees have greater accessibility and flexibility with VoIP, as their VoIP numbers can be used from anywhere through softphones and other mobile devices. When it comes to resources, all that’s needed is a strong internet connection.
Future-proof comms with an adaptable and scalable solution
On the topic of resources, VoIP systems are adaptable and scalable when businesses start to grow. Adding and removing users doesn’t require any major changes in hardware, since there isn’t any hardware to begin with! Spikes in demand can be met with ease, and expansion doesn’t cause a massive drain in resources or overall productivity. Businesses are future-proofed and prepared for any major changes in the field of telecommunications, primarily the PSTN Switch Off. Built-in redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities also give an added layer of business continuity in the case of unforeseen events. Investing in VoIP means telephony is modern and doesn’t risk becoming redundant, safeguarding the interests of the business at large.
Advanced, user-friendly features
VoIP also has plenty of advanced functionalities that puts it at the forefront of communication technology. Call management and the ability to hold high quality video conference calls, to name but a few, gives both customers and employees an enhanced experience when communicating. Platforms are user-friendly and don’t require long and tedious training sessions to fully understand how each application works. The more time saved on getting up to speed, the more productive and efficient employees can be!
Implementing a brand-new communication system always brings in concerns over security, especially when businesses must stay in-line with laws and regulations over data privacy, including HIPPA and GDPR. However, as IP technology has evolved and improved, advancements such as encryption, improved identity management, and Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) means that VoIP is just as secure as traditional landlines. Live notifications and reporting also add that extra level of security for businesses, both large and small.
Collaborating and multitasking has never been easier
With a VoIP phone system at hand, businesses are set to succeed in the digital-first future that is on the horizon. Sending files while enjoying a high-quality call opens up a whole new way to collaborate and multitask, especially when platforms are brought together to allow information to be found and shared more easily. Streamlined processes which are strengthened by advanced decision-making provides a stronger base to build a better relationship with customers, and establish a whole new level of trust.
So, that’s what VoIP can bring to a business. There’s a lot that VoIP can offer businesses of various sizes, and it is certainly an exciting time to be thinking about migrating to a VoIP phone system. However, when presenting the advantages of VoIP, it is appropriate to present the downsides of VoIP, in order to fully understand what this latest step in telephony entails.
The disadvantages of VoIP
Reliance on an internet connection
A digital-first future brings plenty of exciting steps forward, but even though VoIP helps free employees from being tethered to their desk phones, an internet connection is still needed for it to work. Without a reliable network with the appropriate bandwidth, VoIP cannot function and unleash its full potential and power. A major disruption in connectivity that takes a considerable amount of time to fix leads to further havoc for business continuity, leading to frustrated staff and disgruntled customers who can’t get in touch. Considering more than 60% of customers take their business elsewhere after a poor experience, keeping customers on your side is more important than ever.
Latency and jitter
That low quality internet can also translate into low quality calls, with the prospect of latency and jitter hanging over VoIP phone systems. Latency is defined as the ‘lag time’ between when the data packets are sent and when they arrive, meaning that a jammed ‘internet highway’ causes call quality drops significantly. A mis-assembled sequence of data packets creates jitter, resulting in calls that cannot be deciphered or interpreted. Again, the reliance on a stable internet connection can cause some drawbacks for VoIP, especially when quality comes into question. It’s best to aim for a latency of 200ms or below to ensure that employees aren’t subject to this delay in data transfer.
Shortcomings during an emergency
Mobility is a strong advantage for VoIP, but when someone needs to make an emergency call, that’s when problems can arise. Landline calls made it simple for emergency services to trace the source of a call, but since VoIP calls come from an IP address, and these VoIP numbers aren’t associated with a particular broadcasting tower, it’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of the call. Moreover, a power outage renders VoIP inoperable, which is never ideal in an emergency, so businesses without a backup power supply cannot make any type of call. Copper wired phones, meanwhile, would still be able to function.
Handling external security threats
We’ve already mentioned the positive aspects of VoIP security, but the reliability of a constant online connection does open security risks. Vishing, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), and call tampering are all various methods that hackers and other hostile parties can deploy in order to steal critical business information. Security concerns should always be taken seriously, even if the added bonus of end-to-end encryption and other security measures gives VoIP an added layer of security.
Just like with any piece of software, there are disadvantages to keep in mind when analysing how game-changing VoIP can be. The factor of internet connectivity can be mitigated through a further investment in a network that supports multiple devices simultaneously, but in today’s working world, that should already be in place before making huge steps in business telephony.
Is VoIP worth investing in?
The advantages and disadvantages outlined in this guide certainly gives business leaders plenty to ponder when thinking about implementing a VoIP phone system. There’s no doubt that making a decision like this is of vital importance to any business, so it’s key that these decision-makers know about trusted VoIP solutionsthat will play a long-term part in driving success and growth for businesses of various sizes. The prospect of closer collaboration and an enhanced CX are clear benefits for any business; it’s just all about finding the VoIP solution right for you.