To say that business communications have changed significantly over the past number of years is an understatement. New technologies, from Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to Unified Communications (UC) solutions, are permeating workplaces around the globe, and are therefore changing not only how businesses communicate but also how they operate. In this article, Doug Brackbill, the CEO of Line2, a San Francisco-based telecommunications company, sheds some light on how the needs and opportunities in business communications have evolved, as well as how Line2 is addressing such changes.
VoIP Communications Quickly Becoming the Norm
While the traditional landline is still not completely dead, VoIP communications are quickly becoming the norm in today’s business environment. VoIP technology makes calling affordable and more efficient by using the internet to route calls instead of over traditional copper lines. Because of this, the calls and the service come at a much cheaper price when compared to traditional phone systems. But cost isn’t the only thing that gives VoIP an edge over a traditional phone service. According to Brackbill, “VoIP offers much lower cost while providing more features and choice of device.” “But the true revolution in business communications are virtual systems. These are cloud-based and app-based, and offer true mobility,” Brackbill added.
Virtual VoIP systems, also referred to as hosted VoIP, are phone systems hosted and maintained by the service provider in a secure facility. They are preferred by many of today's companies because these solutions are convenient, affordable, and make working from anywhere possible. In fact, Brackbill says, “Companies can install communications as easily as installing an app, and have a full business communications system using the smartphones, tablets, and laptops they and their employees already use.” No need to invest in costly phone equipment or any conduct maintenance and upgrades.
Going Beyond Voice
Although VoIP is primarily centered around voice communications, many services today have already gone beyond the voice channel to adapt to the needs of today’s modern businesses. Brackbill says this has allowed VoIP to change how businesses connect in two big ways: with mobility and messaging. Mobility features such as find me follow me, unified inbox, voicemail to email, and a mobile app, for instance, have allowed workers to communicate anywhere business happens. Messaging tools such as text and chat, meanwhile, have allowed businesses to cater to the needs of their customers better by opening more channels of communications.
Brackbill explains that going beyond voice by adding chat, messaging, group messaging, and photo messaging to communications is a total win-win for businesses, their employees, and their customers. “Interacting with prospects and customers in their preferred mode of communication enables a business to grow. Messaging is efficient, urgent and personal. And a photo can truly equal a thousand words, spoken or written, especially for realtors, insurance agents, construction and more,” he said.
Line2’s Solutions in Today’s Business Communications Revolution
As a cloud phone service provider, Line2 believes that the future of business communications is one without the tools that hold a business back or tether them to their desk or office. Therefore, they offer a suite of services that include a rich set of voice, PBX, and toll-free services: SMS and MMS for text, group, and photo messaging; and conferencing and digital fax lines. They also offer a suite of business communications apps available on iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, Macs, Windows PCs, plus Android and Apple watches. All of these services work on up to 5 devices per user, on Wi-Fi, on cellular data, or on cell voice networks.
Line2 also recently launched an enhancement to their business messaging solution, the Line2 widget. Similar to the “click to call” function, the Line2 widget provides a website button or a unique URL link which users can add to their websites, email, and social media accounts. The only difference is that when a customer or visitor clicks this button or link, it will allow them to initiate a text conversation (instead of a phone call) with the business. This gives more flexibility as to how a business can interact with their customers.
The revolution in business communications has indeed made doing business more exciting. Gone are the days when telephones and fax machines were the only tools that provided workers a way to communicate and collaborate. Now, there is a vast array of choices so that businesses can choose the most appropriate channel. In order for a business to communicate and collaborate effectively, though, it is important for them to choose a solution that fits their needs, as well as those of their customers.
Line2 was founded in 2006 as a truly virtual and mobile-first business communications service, specially designed for small businesses, sole proprietors, and entrepreneurs with white collar, blue collar or no collar. They are headquartered in downtown San Francisco and serve customers across the US and Canada, as well as international users who desire a US or Canadian phone number for business.