What is a hosted, or virtual, PBX?
What is a hosted, or virtual, PBX?
One of the latest advances is business telecommunications is the hosted, or virtual PBX. This type of next generation technology enables small and medium-sized (SMB) businesses to experience the benefits of a enterprise-grade communications system while forgoing the need to invest in costly phone equipment since the entire system is managed and operated by a VoIP (voice-over-IP) solutions provider. A virtual PBX enables employees to work from anywhere they happen to be, without losing access to the main office phone system features. Similar to the communications services used by major enterprises, SMBs choosing to deploy a hosted PBX are able to transfer calls, place callers on hold (with music), arrange conference calls and program an automated attendant to direct incoming callers to specific departments or extensions.
The basic concept of a virtual PBX
- The entire system is managed offsite by the provider
- The system works in conjunction with, or as a replacement of an existing telephone system
- The system can be used with conventional landlines, mobile phones, IP phones, etc
Most providers of hosted PBX services offer a complete range of telephone features, available at various price models that are often dependent upon the number of seats (or users) that a business purchases. Since PBX’s are backed by VoIP, customers enjoy a variety of perks including affordable long distance (sometimes even FREE!) and valuable business enhancing features like call queues, conference calling, automated attendants, presence dialling and much more.
As workers become more mobile, businesses begin to deploy solutions that keep their workforce productive, collaborative and accessible. VoIP and hosted PBX means giving offices and employees easy access to the tools they need to perform the core functions of their jobs – wherever they are!
The real time benefits of a virtual PBX
The list of key advantages of using a hosted PBX as opposed to a traditional onsite version, or even conventional phone service, is lengthy. The most notable are:
- Upfront cost savings: With hosted PBX, there are no requirements for costly upfront investments like there would be when purchasing a physical office phone system.
- Increased employee mobility: Since the entire system is managed offsite, and accessible from anywhere, employees can work from outside the office, from home, other branch locations, anywhere.
- Greater local presence: One of the biggest driving factors for customers of hosted PBX is the ability to establish a local presence in an area that they may not have a physical office in by having a local phone number.
- Heightened credibility: For SMBs, a hosted PBX can instantly make them appear larger and more professional. Most small businesses do not have the necessary operating capital to secure phone systems capable of rivalling their larger competition.
- Easy scalability: Conventional premise-based phone systems are very restrictive. The number of seats that can be purchased may be limited, and businesses may have a difficult time adding or removing seats as their business needs change. Adding or removing seats with a virtual system is as simple as making a phone call or accessing a web interface.
- Fast installation and setup: Unlike with traditional service from the local telephone provider, there is no need for visits from technicians, bulky (and costly) phone closets, rewiring etc. Hosted PBX systems can be installed, configured and running in as little as day – not weeks or even longer like traditional service.
Top Features of a Virtual PBX
Cost savings benefits
- Free (or deeply discounted) long distance
- Minimal hardware requirements
- Reduced IT requirements
- Affordable features
- Presence and IM applications
- Compatible with desk, smartphones and laptops
- Enhanced voicemail services like voicemail-to-email
- Connect multiple office locations
Strong corporate image
- Programmable automated attendant
- Local numbers in many geographic areas
- Custom hold music
- Professional call routing
- Monitor employee performance, track metrics
- Generate detailed reports
- Track call usage and volume
- Record and archive calls
What equipment can be used with hosted PBX?
The true advantage of hosted PBX is that it can be used to either optimize or replace existing phone service.
No need to replace existing landlines: Businesses migrating towards a hosted PBX have the freedom to keep existing phone lines and then have calls routed from the PBX to each line. This may not be the most ideal option, however, as doing so will limit the potential for cost savings.
Leverage BYOD or mobile phones: Most companies nowadays have at least one employee who works from outside of the office and have a preference for using a mobile phone for their calling purposes. Hosted PBX calls can be forwarded, routed or directed to anywhere – even voicemail.
Experience the benefit of VoIP: Most hosted PBX services come bundled with VoIP. This is the most advantageous solution as it removes the need for local telephone service and allows businesses to harness the many advantages of voice over IP. Additionally, there are options for applications and softphones.
Use mobile apps: Smartphone applications can make it easier for mobile employees to access the same tools and solutions that they would have inside the office when working from outside of the office.