From a proliferation of dedicated business apps to smartphones and laptops that enable employees to connect from anywhere, technology is changing how people work. But telephony systems haven’t kept up, with many businesses relying on outdated PBX systems that don’t meet their current needs.
According to Sprint, the average lifespan of an on-premises system is 7 years, but it’s not uncommon to find businesses that are still making calls on systems built 10 or even 20 years ago—predating smartphones and other everyday technologies.
The problem with PBX
As rotary phones and paper filing cabinets demonstrate, solutions that once served businesses well are not optimal forever. For businesses that still rely on PBX, the following issues might sound familiar:
- System outages and downtime that last hours (or even days)
- A need to work with (and pay) multiple carriers and vendors to support complex systems
- Lack of specialised in-house expertise to maintain legacy systems
- Difficulty sourcing replacement parts and hardware
Agility, flexibility, and mobility have emerged as must-have qualities in today’s rapidly changing workplaces. Whether it was the rush to work from home during the lockdown days of COVID-19 or staffing changes as businesses recover from the pandemic, today’s companies require solutions that help them quickly respond to disruptions. On-premises PBX systems simply don’t cut it.
Migrating to a modern phone system
The good news for businesses is that cloud solutions have come of age, with unified communications helping companies overcome many common pain points. Here’s how UCaaS communications technology can boost your business.
1. Unifies communications across your business
If your office is like most businesses that still rely on PBX systems, you’re likely using a messy patchwork of tools: fax machines, separate apps for video conferencing and texting, landlines, and wireless phones. These disparate tools make it difficult to quickly get a hold of people. With separate billing for each, they can also get costly.
Unified communications integrate all of these previously distinct tools into a single platform that’s accessible anywhere employees need to work. Switching to a single solution also saves money and administrative time by eliminating the redundancies of multiple solutions.
2. Simplifies multi-location management
If on-premises PBX wasn’t messy enough, businesses with multiple branches or locations have even more complicated networks to manage— with more vendors and systems involved. This creates both IT and budget headaches. But cloud-based solutions can be seamlessly extended to any location with an internet connection. No more dispatching IT to distant offices just to set up phones and maintain on-site systems.
3. Flexes when your business flexes
In today’s fast-paced world, businesses can’t afford to wait for their communications technology to keep up with the needs of their workforce. Whether it’s bringing on additional support staff during seasonal busy times or other changing needs, long set-up delays for onboarding new users stand in the way of productivity. In uncertain times, it’s also harder than ever for businesses to predict what their needs will be two or three years out.
Unlike on-premises, cloud communications can quickly be scaled up or down, with easy deployment and set-up for new users. The RingCentral system provides instant access to virtually limitless inbound and outbound call capacity, so that however and whenever your needs change, your communications capabilities will flex to match.
4. Reduces infrastructure management headaches and costs
PBX systems are also costly, with fees for buying, installing, and maintaining systems typically reaching into the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars (especially if you’re talking about multiple locations). Switching to a cloud-based solution eliminates heavy up-front investments in hardware and wiring, along with the need to pay for ongoing specialised support and maintenance.
With cloud communications, the entire infrastructure for your phone system resides in secure, redundant, and geographically distributed data centres, providing carrier-grade service for a single monthly fee. For businesses with multiple locations, the cost savings are even greater thanks to the elimination of multiple PBX systems and hardware.
5. Connects mobile and remote workers
Premises-based systems only work when you’re in the physical office, leaving mobile and remote workers to rely on external phone numbers and a variety of apps to text, talk, or collaborate by video. But cloud solutions work wherever your employees are working, allowing them to use one app (and one set of contact details) for all their communication needs.
Workers can answer calls wherever they go, and customers always see your business number rather than the employee’s personal home or mobile number—just like at the office.
6. Instant access to the latest features
Unlike hardwired PBX systems, cloud systems roll out updates the moment they’re released, meaning that users always have the latest features. Rather than having to manually on-prem systems, updates are released to users across the board and have almost no impact on operations.
7. Greater control
Whether it’s provisioning a new user or troubleshooting an issue, cloud-based communications offer centralised control and visibility, allowing for easier management. Unlike PBX, which must be serviced in its physical location, cloud communications can be managed from anywhere, eliminating the service delays and costs of having to dispatch IT or call in a third party for support.
It’s time to move to the cloud
While PBX systems once served a purpose, these outdated phone systems no longer make sense in today’s workplace. Fortunately, cloud-based communications solutions like RingCentral are inherently designed to meet the needs of modern enterprises, offering scalable, cost-efficient communications wherever and whenever your employees do their work.
Learn more about how switching to unified communications prepares your organisation for the future of work.
Originally published 24 Sep, 2020, updated 13 Jan, 2023