Over the past decade there has been a virtual revolution in business communications, with the nationwide roll-out of high-speed broadband encouraging companies to embrace emerging technologies, such as VoIP telephony (Voice over Internet Protocol).
VoIP systems are versatile, flexible, and offer comprehensive functionality, with feature-rich handsets that have become key to improving customer service management.
Other benefits of business VoIP include reduced costs of international and inter-site calls, ease of scaling up or down a company’s communication network, and being able to remotely log-in and manage a system via the internet, important when it comes to technical maintenance and disaster recovery.
Perhaps the most significant benefit for most businesses, however, is the flexibility provided by having everyone in the company connected to a single system, wherever they may be working and from whichever device.
Mitel, Avaya and Horizon are three of the big providers of VoIP business telephone systems, all offering flexibility, reliability and scalability. Each system comes with a wide range of handset choices. Choosing the right ones for your business is not as simple as providing basic models for junior associates and feature-rich ones for senior managers. It’s a case of matching handsets to the functions demanded of specific roles.
A receptionist will probably need a large display panel detailing availability of company staff; mobile sales staff may prioritise ergonomic features such as headset connectivity; a CEO may require either the simplest or most sophisticated handset, depending on their management style.
Below is a sample selection of entry-level, midrange and high-end models provided by Mitel and Avaya.
Entry-level: Mitel 5312 IP Phone
This is an ideal model for those on a small budget, equipped with 12 programmable buttons that can be easily configured to integrate the more basic aspects of Mitel’s MiVoice communications system. Great sound quality with a robust and easy-to-navigate interface.
Entry-level: Polycom VVX 310
Polycom models can connect to Horizon’s hosted telephony system, and the VVX 310 allows users to view and manage their Microsoft Exchange Calendar, while also accessing Instant Messaging via the phone’s on-screen display. Six lines can be monitored at once, making it ideal for users with a low-to-moderate number of calls.
Midrange: Avaya 1616 IP Deskphone
This handset’s display is hinged and adjustable, allowing users to position it for comfort and ease of use. With 16 line appearances, this model is ideal for those who need to monitor several lines at once.
Midrange: Mitel 5360 IP Phone
This handset features a high-res colour touch display, one-touch access to applications and 48 programmable keys. Suited to call centre managers and general managerial roles.
High-end: Polycom VVX 500
Desktop-meets-smartphone, designed with efficiency in mind. Conference calling is made easy, with reminders appearing on screen and soft key connectivity dialling straight in. For users that require multiple outbound caller IDs, this model allows up to 12 lines to be activated.
High-end: Avaya 9611G IP Deskphone
Wideband audio technology guarantees superior sound and the colour display makes for easy navigation. These models connect to the Avaya IP Office platform, allowing users to login from any location and to have the phone automatically configured to their specifications – ideal for hot-desking and multi-site workers. Multiple line options also make this suitable for call-centre management.
The selected models are just samples of the ranges offered by Avaya and Mitel and it would be worthwhile exploring their full ranges for the model most suited to your business needs.
The global shift to VoIP telephony seems inevitable. Its advantages, in terms of cost-efficiency, scalability, add-on features and flexibility, are undeniable. As a commitment to your business communications strategy, it’s certainly an investment not to be delayed.
About the Author
Matt Davis is Engineering Manager at Business Communications specialists, Solution IP. You can follow him @SolutionIP on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.