Let your business do the talking - via VOIP
By Mitchell Barker, CEO of WhichVoIP.
Business owners are always looking for ways to lower costs in their organisations. Many are successfully doing this by getting rid of their analogue phone lines, and the cost-saving measures modern telecommunications offers companies is evident in the fact that the one industry that didn't participate in the recession was telecommunications.
Reports indicate that an increasing number of businesses of all sizes - but especially small and medium-sized enterprises - around the world are replacing traditional telephone systems in favour of VOIP (voice over Internet protocol), which has become the de facto standard for voice connectivity in this day and age.
VOIP is experiencing this upsurge in popularity mainly due to its proven cost effectiveness. It is estimated that VOIP functionality is being built into approximately 80% of PBX (Private Branch Exchange) systems - which interoperate with a normal Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) - that are now sold around the world. By switching to VOIP, businesses can meet all their telephony needs. All they have to do is expand their Internet data bandwidth requirements by a small percentage.
"By implementing VOIP, companies could slash a whopping 40% to 70% from their monthly telecommunication bills," says Mitchell Barker, CEO of WhichVoIP. "The technology allows users to make discounted local, long distance, mobile and even international calls for as little as a few cents per call, translating into thousands of rands in savings per year. And when the cost of a VOIP solution over its entire lifetime is compared to that of a traditional telephony system, it is also far more cost-effective to maintain and expand."
However, with the many different VOIP providers out there, choosing the right supplier for your business can be difficult. "To help make sense of the many different providers out there, you can turn to www.whichvoip.co.za. This free online aggregator gives users the ability to research various VOIP termination and hosted PBX providers by comparing, using a number of filters applicable to all types of businesses. Users can also use WhichVoIP to obtain quotes from leading business VOIP providers," says Barker. "Alternatively, they could decide whether they want to take the plunge and become their own VOIP provider."
He adds that, with so many giant names in VOIP already jostling for competition, the market is rather saturated, so it is not a good idea to start a company solely to sell VOIP.
"However, if your company already provides general ISP and Web services, you might want to consider adding VOIP to your menu to complement your existing offerings by becoming a VOIP reseller or affiliate. It is a good opportunity to expand your brand and - since you'll be able to set your own price for VOIP services if you become a reseller - to create an additional revenue stream for your company."
Many VOIP providers and hosts offer different affiliate and reseller packages. Any company deciding to become a provider has the option of then hosting and reselling its airtime to its own customers.
Some suppliers offer turnkey solutions for their resellers. This means you will not have to make a massive investment by purchasing additional equipment, since the supplier will still provide the equipment and - more importantly - handle the technical maintenance of the system on your behalf. Some hosting firms will even conduct on-site training and equipment set-up. You will simply act as a middleman for them. Other suppliers will require you to purchase extensive equipment, hardware, software and also invest in training your employees - which will require a large upfront spend. On the plus side, it will provide you with more hands-on control of the product.
"There are many factors businesses need to consider during the VOIP supplier selection process, and there are a myriad suppliers out there who offer a wide variety of VOIP services. If your company has a proven track record with existing customers, and providing secure connectivity is something the business can do, why not look at becoming your own provider? With the many benefits VOIP offers, it's a win-win situation. It's time you became your own VOIP provider," Barker concludes.