From Analog Phones to Digital PhonesDon Cockayne
The phone sitting on your desk must be one of the unsung heroes of the Technology world if there ever was one. Analog phones have been around for so long we hardly ever even think about them, but without them, we all know that business would come to a screeching halt. But just like everything else, the business phone has evolved to adapt to the changing way we work and if you haven’t given your phone system a thought in years, it just might be time to look at what’s going on these days and how an upgrade might enhance the way you interact with your Customers.
The biggest single change that has happened to phone systems since the early days has been the change from Analog to Digital systems. Basically, the phone that sits on a modern desktop has become just another network device, and the conversations going through it have been turned into the same sort of digital data as everything else. This change of course does include a lot of positives, but there are a few negatives that can creep into the picture if we’re not careful.
From a positive standpoint, the phone needs the exact same kind of cabling as any other network device, so the cabling inside your building can be much simpler, everything can simply be a Cat5e or Cat6 cable and you’re done. Unfortunately, some of you have older buildings with cabling that was installed just after Edison invented the light bulb, so re-cabling the building is out of the question. There are ways around this, but if possible, it’s best to give every phone its own cable.
Power is something that we must consider when going digital as well, as the old analog devices got their power directly from the phone system in the back closet, so you didn’t need to plug power into them. Digital devices must be powered by something, so we need to either upgrade to a Network Switch that can supply power to the phones, or install small power adapters to each phone. This isn’t normally a huge challenge but we do need to consider it.
Now, where things get really cool with digital phones is the way we use them. Mobility is something that we feel needs to be factored into every technology discussion these days, as people are simply not chained to their desks and work needs to take place wherever the person doing the work happens to be. With new cloud based phone systems, it is now possible to have a person who works from home be tapped into the phone system just as if they were sitting a desk inside the building. It’s also possible now to have the phone system track people down wherever they are, ringing their desktop phone first but then moving on to their cell phone after a couple of rings so they get the call even if they are out visiting a customer or a job site.
As phone systems began to really evolve, businesses thought it was effective to have complex call navigation trees, “Press 1 for sales, 2 for service, 3 for accounting” but I think we can all agree that these are in reality just “Customer Avoidance” systems, giving big companies a way to frustrate the caller enough to convince them to just hang up. We think it’s much better to have the phone system track the recipient of the call down by jumping from a desk phone to their cell phone seamlessly, then to risk the Customer relationship by dumping them into voicemail or some convoluted menu system.
Another benefit we get from hosted Digital Phones is the ability to add things like call recording. Let’s face it, every business could probably benefit from having calls recorded and reviewed so that folks can learn how you want them to talk to and handle the needs of your customers. With Analog phones, call recording was only possible with another big piece of equipment on the wall, but with Hosted Digital systems, it’s a feature that is easy to turn on and easy to use.
And probably the single biggest thing that Hosted Digital Voice over IP (VoIP) phones have done is break the cycle of enormous, complicated phone bills. In the past, you had to pay for copper lines into the building, and then you had to pay for local minutes of calls and long distance minutes of calls and fees and taxes and lions and tigers and bears… But with a Hosted VoIP system, all your calls just go across your Internet connection and gone are the days of worrying about monthly phone bills that could fluctuate wildly from month to month. Now, as with everything else, there’s a caveat here, we need to make sure your Internet connection has the capacity to keep up with the demands, but that’s less of a problem these days as high speed connections begin to reach nearly every business at a very reasonable cost.
Basically, the phone system has kept up with the changing work environment, enabling more mobility, more features and easier growth and installation around the building, and reducing costs across the board but it does take a good hard look at the “nuts and bolts” to make sure your building is ready to handle a digital system. If you haven’t given your phone system a thought for years, it might just be the right time for us to have a chat so we can show you how we can change things up and move your business further along the modernization trail.