PC-based telephone systems (also now known as IP or Internet Protocol systems) offer a solution to two potential problems in the office – the relative lack of flexibility in conventional phone systems, and the need to run separate voice and data systems.
With computerised telephony, your phones are connected to a dedicated voice server, which in turn plugs into one or more external phone lines. The server sits on the network, so users can easily link their PC address books and the phone system to dial directly from their computer. All the functions of the phone system are provided by specialist communications software running on a standard computer operating system, so upgrades and reconfiguration are generally a matter of selecting different options or installing an update.
There are other potential benefits too:
Price – IP based telephone servers are often built with standard PC components rather than purpose-designed hardware, and as a result offer dramatic improvements in functionality without costing much more than equivalent proprietary PBX systems.
Serviceability – standard components and a now widely-understood hardware set-up make for relatively quick and easy servicing. Dealing with faults is often a matter of swapping a standard component; with traditional systems you’d have to go through an authorised dealer and pay the vendor’s price.
Expandability – traditional PBX vendors usually have completely different product lines for small and mid-sized offices. The IP approach lets you grow from five or six handsets up to 100 or more.
Independence – if you have a network administrator or MIS department, they’ll be able to configure and maintain an IP-based business telephone system with little or no involvement from outside contractors.