June 2021

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Gregg Knowles

By Gregg Knowles


17 June 2021

Considering moving your business to a cloud-hosted phone system?
Here are 5 key questions to ask

More and more businesses today are moving their phone systems into the cloud and it’s a trend that looks set to gain momentum. According to data provider Statista, the market grew 8.9% last year and is forecast to reach to 17.8% in 2021.1 The convergence of mobile and office-based technology is inevitable, and that convergence which would have taken years to happen under normal circumstances has been accelerated by Covid-19. This has demonstrated the need for connectivity solutions that provide flexibility for workers to work from anywhere, while still being able to make and receive calls on their “office” number.

As businesses consider making this shift they are bound to have many questions, the most fundamental of which we address here:

1. Is now the right time to move over?

In 2025, BT is due to switch off the old PTSN (Public Switched Telephone Network) and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) systems, on which most phone calls were made until relatively recently. From this point, all telephone services will have to be hosted in the cloud. However, though that’s not far away, that’s not the real catalyst for change.

A more pressing driver is that businesses need to find permanent solutions to the temporary fixes implemented so suddenly as Covid-19 pandemic enforced a mass shift to remote working almost overnight. Even once the pandemic threat recedes, working from home is likely to remain the norm for many people much of the time. Businesses therefore will need to replace they costly call divert services or temporary phone systems they may have been using with robust, cost-effective, and longer-term options.

2. How much visibility and control will we get?

A key advantage of hosting phone systems in the cloud, especially when you have a fragmented workforce working remotely, is the greater degree of visibility and control over usage and costs that it can deliver. Not all hosted platforms make a digital interface available direct to their business customers, but there are innovative solutions out there that can provide the tools businesses need to view and manage their accounts on a self-serve basis if they choose to do so.

For example, the my.plan platform has been specifically designed to allow businesses to see what kinds of calls staff are making in real time. This enables them to take action accordingly in a live environment – such as by placing restrictions on calls to premium rate numbers or by adding on international calling bundles with immediate effect - rather than managing connectivity on the back foot, and having to go through their network supplier in order to make changes.

3. Will we save money?

Typically yes, and for several reasons. One is that with a cloud-based system, call costs are usually cheaper than the cost of analogue calls because it is a much more competitive marketplace.

Secondly, cloud-based systems minimise the upfront capex required compared traditional PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone systems that require expensive hardware to be installed and maintained on business’ premises to connect calls to and from the public telephone network.

What’s more, cloud-hosted systems are eminently flexible and scalable, so that they can adapt and grow along with your business – again without incurring any major costs to add users to or remove them from a traditional PBX system. That means you always have capacity for the number of users you have, and you never need to overpay for lines you are not using.

Last but not least, having greater visibility and control over usage (as mentioned above) minimises the risk of unforeseen overspend or runaway bills.

4. Can we implement “automated reception” services cost-effectively?

Another major benefit (which particularly comes into its own when working remotely) is that businesses can access automated reception services known as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems at a fraction of the cost. With IVR, calls are answered and routed automatically to the appropriate person/team, with callers selecting from a menu of pre-recorded options.

Previously with traditional PBX systems, implementing an IVR system would have been prohibitively expensive for all but the largest companies because additional expensive machinery would have had to be installed on-site. Now, this functionality - and more - is accessible to all, even the smallest businesses, and such systems can easily be configured at the click of a button in the cloud.

5. What about other sophisticated features and functionality?

IVR is far from the only sophisticated enterprise-grade feature available cost-effectively and in a user-friendly manner. For example, businesses can use digital tools to select how call flows should be handled to route calls in the most effective way to the most appropriate people, what should happen out-of-hours or in different time zones, what hold music or voice messages are played, how missed calls are notified to staff and so on – and change it whenever they want to. They can also access call monitoring and recording facilities, to help meet regulatory compliance, customer service or business development requirements. The possibilities are extensive, and set-up is straightforward.

Shifting to the cloud may seem like a big step, but in fact it is more of a natural progression. Many businesses are halfway there already, and cloud-hosted solutions offer everything you had before and more – much more – in terms of functionality, flexibility, cost-effectiveness and control. The future is in the cloud: it’s just a question of when, not if.


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