Voices from the clouds have, for the better part of human history, been linked directly to spiritual experiences and the heralding of the end times. These vary from a biblical deity’s acknowledgment of paternity to said deity recruiting a young prophet, with several other illustrative examples happening. This will not be what we’re exploring in this post.
Currently, you can speak to your cloud powered handheld device and discover the optimal route home, what movies are showing and even dictate a text to your beloved (not advisable if driving on Nairobi roads due to the risk of profanity). However, a new use case is developing for the SME and Enterprise sector that had not been previously available; running your corporate PABX off the cloud.
Voice services have always been a part of the IT department’s arsenal of communication tools to help an enterprise communicate internally amongst staff and externally with customers and suppliers. However, these have often had certain limitations:
- PABX vendors would lock customers into expensive proprietary platforms that only work with their own (sometimes specific) handsets. (*cough* Panyasonic *cough*)
- The features can only be experienced on-premise which does not support the new paradigm of ‘work from anywhere’ that’s rapidly becoming the norm.
- Services such as video/audio conferencing were expensive, separate addons requiring yet more specialized handsets/devices to use.
- To experience new functionality often required a very expensive software upgrades and investments in expansion cards to accommodate new users. Conversely, should the enterprise reduce their physical footprint, the expanded capacity of the PABX would represent a lost investment.
This situation also made it inefficient for a company to rollout a small deployment of less than 10 extensions. More often than not, they would have to opt for an analogue PABX which offered little more than the ability to transfer calls from one extension to the other.
Thankfully, a new breed of Cloud-based PABX solutions have emerged that not only address the limitations the traditional platforms imposed but introduce new functionality to make your workforce experience increased productivity via enabling office extension communication regardless of the physical location they would working from or the device that they would be using.
A cloud based PABX simplifies the provisioning process for corporate voice services. Your staff can use their extensions on their mobile handsets and/or laptops via software-based clients as well as traditional IP desk phones. Settings on the PABX allow for an incoming call to be routed to the most appropriate device, including the option to have all devices ring at once. All the devices need is a stable internet connection on either Wi-Fi or 3G/4G networks to be able to make calls or execute voice/video conferences from wherever they are.
The Cloud based PABX is vendor agnostic, which allows you to select from a wide range of supported handset devices, guaranteeing that you will find a handset whose features and price are well within your budget. The software clients work on both IOS and Android as well.
Another key advantage of the new age PABX platforms is that they are licenced on the basis of concurrent calls as opposed to the number of extensions/seats supported. Thus, there is no limit to the number of extensions that you can provision for your enterprise.
Enterprises with multilocation setup, who traditionally would have to buy a smaller PABX for each location now have a solution where an appliance in each keeps the calls from one extension to the other within that location and only routes the outward-bound calls to the central PABX. These appliances are very cost-effective way and can support up to 50 extensions each.
Voice recordings are supported out of the box and allow your enterprise to track all interactions with customers and suppliers as well as identify areas of improvement. If your business is afflicted with chronic WeDontPickThePhoneUplitis you can setup call monitoring with hunting groups (for departments) and ways to escalate calls should customers be left on hold for too long. Since the PABX is able to ring both mobiles and desk phones simultaneously, the odds of phones going unanswered are greatly reduced.
The solutions are offered in various editions depending on the features you need. These range from integrations with CRM’s and call centre functionality to the ability to have a standby instance available at no additional cost. This is critical if you run a call centre-based business.
What about the cost considerations for a cloud based PABX? These are pretty straight forward:
- Licence based on the number of concurrent calls supported. The ratio is typically 1 licence for every 3/4 extensions. This is an annual cost.
- The virtual server that powers your PABX attracts a nominal fee every month
- Your preferred provider will provide a SIP trunk that allows you to make your calls. The costs for this service varies. Many providers waive the setup fee as they will recoup the cost with the monthly charges for the calls made.
- (Optional) IP phone handsets.
Call us (on our spiffy cloud based PABX naturally) and we’ll happily walk you thorough what deployment best works for you. Should you hear a loud noise from an actual cloud in your vicinity, and it’s not your handset, say a quick prayer.