Hosted Voice Services: 5 Implementation Considerations

Updated: March 24, 2010

The following considerations apply to both SMBs and enterprises, but each could easily warrant separate analyses in future briefs.

Level of IT expertise. This is one of the first things to evaluate when considering hosted, whether for part or all of your voice services. When businesses start to deploy VoIP and IP telephony, they need to follow the path of network convergence. Some businesses do this gradually, and some elect for a wholesale "forklift upgrade" to make a complete migration. In either case, this new network environment may prove too challenging for the existing IT expertise. There are many examples of why this would happen, but the outcome is the same. Once the business recognizes they lack the in-house skill set for these new technologies, the hosted option starts to make more sense.

IT investment and priorities. While the above consideration relates to how able IT is to manage VoIP, this relates to how willing the business is to do so. Even though a business may have the requisite IT expertise to handle network convergence, this may cause them to take a harder look at the economics of continuing this investment given the option to outsource most of this to a service provider who is more than capable, and at a lower cost. Another scenario would be where the business is not prepared to scale back its IT investment, but they simply have higher strategic priorities. In this case, the move to hosted is just good business, leaving them to focus their IT resources on more valuable functions.

Overall motivation for choosing hosted. This consideration shifts from the realm of IT to the bigger picture decision makers running the business. Many companies - especially SMBs - are motivated by the overall need to reduce costs wherever possible. If the economic benefits are clear, this may be reason enough - and possibly the only reason - to go with hosting. Businesses that have had long histories with their incumbents are well aware of the high costs of telephony relative to IP-based alternatives, so this can be a key consideration. On the other hand, some businesses will see limited economic advantage with hosted, but instead see a stronger strategic rationale to outsource operations that cannot provide competitive advantage. In these cases, the consideration for hosted will have more to do with how the business relationship will benefit the company as opposed to simply lowering telecom costs.

Perceived role of telephony. This consideration speaks to how a business views telephony in the context of everyday operations. Businesses that run conservatively and are not comfortable with new technologies will see hosted simply as a less costly and/or more practical way to manage telephony. They can still get value from hosted, but only in a limited manner. Businesses that take a broader view of hosted will be more communications-centric than voice centric, and look to this solution as a way to improve on what they had before. Not only will hosted give these businesses a richer telephony experience, but it can pave the way for more integrated communications capabilities that bring voice, data and video together in ways that were not previously possible.

Trust in the cloud. The extent to which a business embraces hosted voice services will often depend on how much they trust the model. There are varying degrees of trust for outsourcing anything, partnering with a hosted provider, as well as relying on cloud-based services. The cloud is emerging as both a complement and an alternative to hosted services, and reflects the growing trust businesses have here. Trust is defined on many levels - reliability, scalability, quality of service, privacy, security, storage - just to name a few. Businesses need to take all these into consideration especially if they are new to hosting. They may choose to start with a basic service and build the trust, or jump in deeper to take fuller advantage of new capabilities right away.

Featured Research
  • Is Your Phone System Stealing Profits?

    Having the wrong phone system can dramatically cut into your profits. Despite this, many businesses just sign up for a plan or platform that seems ‘good enough’. If you haven’t carefully considered your options and the included features, there’s a very good chance that you are leaving money on the table in some way. more

  • Phone System Technology Showdown

    VoIP and IP telephony are often misconstrued as being the same type of phone system, but the truth is they operate on different technology and deployment methods. This guide will explain the differences between VoIP and IP, go into the pros and cons of both VoIP and IP-PBX, and give insight into which type of phone system will benefit your business the most. more

  • Why Enterprises are Making the Switch to VoIP

    Your phone system is your most important business communication system. It allows you to connect with your employees, prospects, and clients. And wouldn't it be great if there was a solution that helped drive down costs while providing a competitive advantage? more

  • Business Phone System Buyer's Guide

    Communication has been a focal point in business since inception, but the industry is changing drastically in how people connect to one another and what tools and systems they use to do so. Less than 15 years ago, 90% of people relied on landline phone systems for communication. Today, less than 60% of Americans even have a landline and 40% rely solely on their mobile phone. more

  • The IT Manager's Survival Guide

    As an IT manager, maintaining physical fax servers and infrastructure is not a high priority. However, fax capability remains a business need simply because chances are your industry is dependent on its security. What if there was a way to reduce the amount of time spent handling fax complaints and maintaining physical servers? And this way took into account security, cost savings, and freed up your IT resources. Would you be interested? more