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Virtual Phone Systems: Definitions and Developments

picture of the author Aymeric | 5 february 2020

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We're now in the era of the virtual phone system! Simple, economical, and accessible without requiring any special technical expertise, it's the telecom tool most widely deployed among SMEs in recent years. If you've researched different operators' solutions at all, you've likely felt overwhelmed at times by the abundance of offers available - prompting you to ask yourself exactly what a phone system is, and what it's for.

What exactly is a virtual phone system?


When we talk about business telecom, we quickly associate the term with phone systems, which allow a company's telecom to function. A phone system interconnects colleagues' individual phone lines and ensures that these lines in turn link to external networks. It also allows a greeting to be put in place and incoming calls to be routed to different collaborators. Without the phone system, there wouldn’t be business telecom!

If you've looked into solutions to equip your own team, you've no doubt come across the notion of the "virtual phone system," or variants such as "cloud phone system," "Centrex phone system," or "hosted phone system." Whatever the term used, the technical implications are the same: it refers to a business phone system reduced to a strict minimum of materials, and requires no internal server to be installed within the company.

Historically dependant on the setup of material hardware, establishing a business phone system has little by little become "virtualised," meaning that we've made the transition from physical to virtual deployment: no servers, no cables - and now, not even desktop phones or posts.

Today, when we talk about virtual phone systems, we simply mean all business telecom that does not require any servers or dedicated posts, using computers or employee mobiles (BYOD) instead.

Virtual phone systems are getting more and more…virtual


In the 1990s, with the arrival of VOIP, we talked about a virtual phone system for all Centrex-type solutions - without a server, but with IP workstations installed within companies.

Today, the concept of virtual phone systems corresponds more to 100% dematerialised telecom plans - that is to say, systems with no server installation, nor any need for dedicated posts.

Office phones have been replaced by employee mobiles with dedicated applications for managing their business calls, or by "diallers" available with web call interfaces. Unlike "softphones," these interfaces are accessible from any computer, without complex installation or even plugins, thanks to WebRTC technology.

WebRTC: The last technological step to a 100% virtual phone system


The current boom in 100% cloud telecom offers is based on WebRTC technology, which allows calls to be made and received by opening a simple web page - no installation necessary. Developed by Google and Mozilla, WebRTC has enabled the development of completely mobile and dematerialised cloud telecom solutions (much like email management) and has given new impetus to corporate telecom, with the appearance of more accessible solutions that better match the needs of businesses today.

Phone systems that are increasingly easy to manage


Thanks to WebRTC, new publishers of telecom solutions have emerged in recent years, with an emphasis on software. These publishers define themselves above all as providers of SaaS solutions, in the same vein as most business management tools (CRM, accounting, payroll, human resources software, etc.).

Their underlying goal is to simplify management tools within companies as much as possible. We've simplified payments, accounting, recruitment... and now we've simplified telecom.

The new virtual phone systems are therefore well thought out, with ergonomic and simple interfaces that allow users to do almost everything in terms of setup and daily management of their phone system.

Setting up a virtual phone system: users in the driver's seat


When an entrepreneur or a service manager acquires a virtual telecom solution, they'll have access to a dashboard which they can quickly set up and manage:
- Add and remove users
- Choose phone numbers
- Create greetings for their company or service
- Distribute calls and establish routing rules
- Listen to live calls
- Gather advanced statistics
- Synchronise calls to internal tools

Example of a virtual phone system management interface:

In conclusion, when we refer to virtual phone systems today, we're talking more and more about a dematerialised phone system, or business telecom which does not require dedicated installation. This new way of managing calls from web and mobile apps makes it possible to deploy advanced telecom features and even virtual call center solutions for any company, regardless of its size.

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picture of the author Claire-Emilie | 15 october 2020
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