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Small and fledgling businesses have many challenges to overcome. One of them is the limited budget to spend on technology. However, they still need systems to service customers and the business processes. A business phone system is a basic need, but how to choose one that work well? It depends on the budget, priorities of the business, and desired features of the system. It’s also worth considering what other small businesses are opting for.

What’s Trending in SMBs?

Most small businesses in Australia prefer VoIP (also termed as ‘hosted PBX’). It has seen tremendous growth during this pandemic. It is primarily due to low cost (as compared to the on-premise PBX) and simplicity of set-up. VoIP is mostly software that makes the system more flexible. A VoIP system is capable of doing what the traditional PBX can do. Moreover, VoIP is feature-packed as compared to the old-fashioned system.

Hosted PBX

Changing Priorities of Businesses

Pandemic has forced businesses to rethink. More small businesses are actively looking for a system that fits their budget and the priorities.

Priorities 

Hosted VoIP 

PBX 

Low upfront cost  Available as monthly subscription plan  Expensive implementation 
Flexibility  Can be used from anywhere  Can be used within office only 
Features  Offers many advanced features  Limited to making basic phone calls only 
Reliability  Dependent on internet availability  Dependent on phone line or internet availability 
Quality of Service  Call quality is excellent  Call quality is good 
Scalability  Easily scalable   Resources need provisioning 
Security  Excellent and managed by provider  Offers good security 

1: Upfront Cost

VoIP is far less expensive. The lack of required equipment brings down hardware costs significantly. There is no maintenance needed and calls don’t cost much either. A monthly subscription plan offers more flexibility while budgeting.

A PBX system is expensive. The hardware costs are high. Moreover, keeping a team to monitor the system has become untenable for many small businesses especially during this pandemic.

2: Flexibility

VoIP system is flexible. The system enables employees to receive a call from any location on any device. The teams can via their smartphones, computers, or other interconnected devices anywhere in the world. VoIP makes communication effortless and painless.

A PBX system is rigid. It is hosted onsite and the system allows making calls from office phones only. Even if an IP PBX system is used, they need special phones which employees can use from their desks only

3: Features

VoIP system offers several useful features. Conference calling, call waiting, voicemail options, call queues, etc. are available with VoIP. Besides, several other customization are also available.

PBX system has limited capabilities. It can only make phone calls and that too from the desk phone in the office premises. Clearly, PBX lacks several features.

4: Reliability

VoIP is more reliable. In the early days of the internet, there were outage issues. However, it’s robust and most businesses relied on VoIP during the pandemic to run operations successfully. Most providers offer 99.99% uptime.

PBX is also reliable. IP-PBX is as reliable as the underlying internet connectivity. If there is an outage, the system will become dysfunctional.

5: Quality

VoIP offers high quality of service. Voice communication over the internet has improved significantly due to better compression rate and high speed. Hosted PBX providers even offer voice prioritization.

PBX offers quality sound calls as well. In traditional PBX systems, calls travel over phone lines that lead to better sound quality. However, internet issues can affect the quality of IP PBX systems.

6: Scalability

Hosted VoIP system is highly scalable. Businesses grow and contract too. A hosted PBX system can scale up to meet the desired usage capacity in accordance with the demand. You can start with a few lines initially and expand with business growth. It’s easy to meet the spike during seasonal high demand. Get new lines just before the festival or major event and relinquish when the event is over.

PBX is scalable but not expensive. In-house PBX requires the capacity to be created at the beginning. So, resources have to be allocated beforehand. It often leads to a situation where you are paying for unutilized resources. They may or may not be needed in the future.

7: Security

VoIP is more secure. The hosted PBX service provider is responsible for the security. Updating software, firewall, and security patches are done by the provider. The team of professionals ensures that the VoIP is secure and protected.

PBX is also secure. In-house PBX is also secure however, it is the responsibility of the business using it.

  • Other Factors That Matter: Before deciding on any one of the systems, here are some more factors to consider:
  • Existing System: If the business is already using on-premise PBX which is working well, continuing with it is an option. However, VoIP is the best if no system exists.
  • Reliable Internet: Whether VoIP or IP-PBX they both rely on the internet. Before implementation, it’s crucial to check the bandwidth to handle the business call flow.
  • Remote Working Requirement: For a business having distributed team, that often works from home, cafe, or co working spaces, VoIP is the best. It allows the team to make and receive calls on a laptop, and cell phones instead of desk phones.

How to Choose the Best System & the Provider?

Consider the priorities and the factors that matter the most. For many small businesses, VoIP is the best solution as it supports business activities without any interruption and is portable too. Empower ICT is the best amongst hosting PBX providers with over a decade of experience serving businesses across the country.

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