Small Firms Gain Big in the Internet Age
January 13, 2014
By Mae Kowalke
, TMCnet Contributor
The divide between large enterprises and small businesses is narrowing thanks to the cloud.
While all businesses benefit from using Web services, small and medium-sized firms gain the most. That’s because cloud-based solutions in most cases enable small firms to do what only large firms could do before. The cloud offers the same services whether a business is large or small, so in many cases smaller firms are now able to partake is technology and methodologies that only a few years ago would have been beyond their reach.
In some cases, the cloud has even enabled small businesses to be super achievers, doing things that larger firms cannot do thanks to the nimbleness of small firms, which allows them to fully leverage cloud opportunities.
Take telephony, for instance.
Hosted PBX (News - Alert) and softswitches can move calling to the cloud thanks to the emergence of voice-over-IP (VoIP). Instead of being reluctant adopters of VoIP thanks to large existing investments in infrastructure, smaller businesses can quickly and easily embrace the technology.
What firms get from hosted PBX solutions are several benefits.
Chief among them is mobility. While most thing of cell phones as mobile calling, in fact VoIP solutions are even more mobile. That’s because cell phones are constrained by geography: If an employee does not have sufficient cellular access, or is traveling out of the country, say goodbye to mobile calling. But with VoIP, it is easy to route calls to any device connected to the Internet. This includes mobile phones, but just as easily can be a softphone such as a laptop or iPad.
Hosted PBX solutions and softswitches that small businesses are more easily able to tap into also enable things like call hunting. What this does is ensure that no call goes unanswered. It does this by trying one number, then forwarding the call to a second, third, or even fourth number until someone picks up. It also is possible to simultaneously ring to several numbers, with the first person who picks it up being the one to takes the call.
Other features that come with VoIP technology include improved call quality. While many think of VoIP as inferior calling, thanks in large part to consumer-oriented Skype (News - Alert), business-ready VoIP actually can deliver a much higher quality, known as high-definition voice. Just as HD video makes TV pop, so too does HD voice make it sound like the other person is right there in the room.
So while small businesses might not have the financial resources of larger firms, their advantage of flexibility can pay striking dividends when it comes to the cloud and technologies such as VoIP.
A little story called David and Goliath comes to mind.
Edited by Alisen Downey