Throughout history, there has been a significant difference in the quality of technology available for large, enterprise companies compared to small businesses. New, feature-rich, cutting edge technology systems were reserved for the larger enterprise because they could afford them financially and had the technical staff available to manage them. Small businesses were forced to settle for older, scaled-down versions of these systems since they didn’t have the funds to purchase the more advanced systems and could not afford to pay someone to support them even if they did.
Over the past few years, several new technologies and factors have created a major change in what is available to smaller organizations. Cloud computing, open source options and user-friendly user interfaces have made even the most historically complex and costly systems, including operating systems, email platforms, CRMs and more, affordable and easy to use. The Unified Communications (UC) industry is a perfect example of this paradigm shift. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the drivers that are bringing advanced phone systems to the small business.
For the second half of the 20th century, the business phone systems industry was dominated by a couple of large companies making and selling costly and complex systems. A couple of large corporations, dominated by Nortel, used almost entirely proprietary technology, making it difficult for smaller phone vendors to break into the market and kept prices high. Small businesses were priced out and were forced to settle for residential communications features.
In the late 1990’s, Mark Spencer invented an open-source phone system platform called Asterisk that completely disrupted the communications industry and changed phone systems forever. Companies, led by Spencer’s own, Digium, used Asterisk to bring advanced phone system technologies like IVRs, queues, and advanced call routing to companies of all sizes. To this day, Asterisk-based phone systems like Switchvox are allowing small and medium businesses to take advantage of features that were previously reserved for the enterprise.
OpEx Pricing Models
Cloud-based phone systems have been a major driver in making advanced phone systems available to everyone. One of the major reasons cloud has been such a key driver is the fact that cloud-based phone systems use an OpEx pricing model as opposed to requiring CapEx funds to purchase a system. It can be very difficult for a 20-person company to come up with tens of thousands of dollars in cash to purchase a new phone system outright, but it is often easy for them to spend a few hundred dollars a month for all the modern phone system features and service options they need. With cloud, small businesses can now afford enterprise phone systems.
The Cloud Effect on IT
Cloud also solves the challenge that small businesses face when it comes to having IT resources to manage complex systems. Cloud systems are managed by the vendor and take the vast majority of the work and worry out of the hands of the small business. Now small organizations can continue to focus on what they do well to solve problems for their customers and not worry about having to support a phone system.
Another challenge that prevented small businesses from using advanced phone systems was they were just too difficult to use. Even if the small business had a resource to manage a system, they didn’t often have the specific coding and telephony expertise to setup the system to be usable for the staff. Modern systems like Switchvox use simple, web-based user and administrative portals with no scripting or coding, allowing companies of all sizes and technical know how to setup and use advanced communications features.
Switchvox is a great example of a system designed to deliver enterprise level features for the small and medium business. See for yourself how Switchvox can solve your communications problems at a price you can afford. Sign up for a live demo of Switchvox today!