In 1918, there were just 10 million phone lines in service. A century on, there are over a billion in use – with 1.5 billion smartphone sales in 2017 alone. These high sales are motivated in part by constant technological advancements. Personal mobile devices are almost unrecognisable from the products of the 90s. They’ve come a long way since the 00s, too, and it’s likely that the next decade will show us smartphones with capacities beyond our current imagination.
Likewise, business phone systems have come a long way from the days of switchboard operators. Which raises the question, why do telephony solutions in many offices still have more than a passing resemblance to their historical predecessors?
Is it a case of better the devil you know? For many, their existing phone systems are serviceable enough – they get the job done. As such, investing in new business phone systems may seem like a needless upheaval, especially for smaller businesses with limited resources and perhaps no dedicated IT team.
But this means many aren’t taking advantage of the new features on offer in 2018, and they’re losing out on the prospect of increased efficiency, productivity and staff engagement as a result. So, how do you know when it’s time to move to a new business phone system?
Your devices only work in isolation
Whether you have a suite of fixed and mobile products or just a personal device and a laptop, the most efficient way of working is for all of your platforms to integrate with each other. Unfortunately, many older products only work in isolation.
If this is the case for your tech, consider moving to a system that’ll allow you to integrate your mobile, fixed phone and desktop computers. This is more productive and also serves your customers better, allowing them to communicate with you in the way that suits them best.
Your tools are outdated
Historically, business phone systems were only expected to last anywhere from six to eight years. After this point, it’s likely the system will either be out of maintenance or lagging in features. But this isn’t just a practical issue. Outdated tools and devices also have a negative effect on staff engagement, which makes sense – if you aren’t giving your team up-to-date, modern tools to work with, it’s unlikely they’ll think of your organisation as a forward-thinking venture.
Whether you’re at the end of a cycle or simply want to take advantage of how telephony has advanced in recent years, a new business phone system could be in order. Make sure you know what the warning signs are.
You’re suffering from soon-to-be obsolete setups
Currently relying on a legacy solution such as ISDN network? It’s definitely time to invest in a new system. BT plans to switch off its ISDN network by 2026, so many businesses will be forced to switch to an IP-based option. This means a new business phone system isn’t just a recommendation to improve performance; it’s soon to be a necessity.
The benefits of making the switch now
Changing your phone system isn’t just a case of keeping up with the times. There are plenty of business-enhancing benefits to be enjoyed once you’ve made the decision to upgrade.
- Unified Communications (UC): Phone solutions aren’t just about voice any more. The level of integration modern systems offer, means you can enjoy the benefits of UC, in which all of your platforms work seamlessly From the traditional phone call to instant messaging and video calling, UC is the future to ensure success.
- The cloud advantage: If you’re replacing ISDN, you might be concerned about investing in more technology that will in turn become obsolete. But if you move away from hardware and make the switch to a cloud hosted phone system, you’ll benefit from an ever-evolving platform where new features and upgrades can be enjoyed as soon as they’re developed. This is ideal for SMEs, because the number of lines can be scaled up quickly as you grow, or reduced during quieter periods.
- The same features you’ve always needed – enhanced: Modern business phone systems have evolved a lot, but they still offer the features your business needs, like call reporting and business directories. A new phone system doesn’t mean losing the features you rely on – it means enjoying features that are more efficient than ever.
The next steps
Whatever sector you’re in, it’s likely your phone system plays a vital role in your businesses success, so getting it right is essential. Made the decision to switch?
Adapted from 'How to know when it's time to move to a new business phone system', written by Jamie Ward and originally posted to the official site of Gamma.