The tech world was set abuzz last week when news spread that Microsoft was acquiring VoIP provider Skype for $8.5 billion.
Whether or not Microsoft's new acquisition is genius or folly remains to be seen. With powerhouse Microsoft behind a VoIP provider, it seems that the general push toward greater use of internet communications is underway.
VoIP can offer communication solutions that are cheaper than traditional phone systems - and arguably just as reliable. Worried about billable hours and your bottom line? VoIP could be just the money-saving vehicle your firm has been looking for.
Mobile phone applications: Skype, one of the most popular VoIPs, offers a free mobile phone application. Since Skype users can call other Skype users for free if they are signed into their Skype account on their phone or computer, having associates or employees install and use Skype on their office mobile phones can save some cents. Plus, attorneys with an international client base may want to utilize the cheaper rates when calling offices or clients across the globe.
Computer-to-computer-to-phone: Did you know that you can sign up for a free phone number through Google Voice - and then use this phone number to dial numbers in the U.S. for free? Google Voice has an edge over Skype in terms of functionality. Not only will Google Voice allow you to have an actual phone number, but you can "sync" your Google Voice number with your mobile phone. If someone calls your Google Voice number and you happen to be away from the computer, your phone will ring. And, of course, it's free - all you need is an internet connection.
Using an application like Google Voice can also be perfect for attorneys who want to quickly make phone calls to clients straight from their e-mail inbox (all you have to do is "click" on the phone number), or if you want to screen calls.
Another unique feature for Google Voice is its ability to create customized voicemail messages - so you can create a separate voicemail message to all clients, another one for the court, and so on.
Landline replacements: Most law firms have networked phones, which can be expensive to maintain. An alternative to expensive traditional office PBX systems include Grasshopper and 8x8 Virtual Office Pro. These VoIP solutions offer many of the features of a traditional landline system, like multiple extensions, with some extra perks - like unlimited calls.
Security risks and internet downtime: Unfortunately, like most things that are on the internet, VoIPs are vulnerable to security risks. In some countries, hackers are starting to target VoIPs more, so getting a secure system is vital to protecting your clients' interests, and in making sure that your confidential conversations remain confidential. And, if your internet is down, well, your VoIP will be down as well.
Since VoIP systems are not only gaining steam, but popularity, it seems that cost-conscious firms should try to integrate some VoIP solutions into their daily business to save money.
- 9 Great Alternatives to Skype for VoIP and Video Chat (GigaOm)
- Microsoft-Skype Deal Will Change Business Communication (AllBusiness)
- Skype iPhone App Sparks Net Neutrality Complaint to the FCC (FindLaw's Technologist)