10 Business VoIP Communications Terms

The global business VoIP (UCaaS) market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11 percent between 2018 and 2025, so chances are your organization has either already adopted the technology or made plans to do so in the near future.

As you start the process, you’ll be amazed at all of features and functionality this technology offers. We’ve been in many a meeting in which we’ve seen customers get excited about how business VoIP solutions such as MiCloud Connect and Mitel Teamwork could transform their work.

That’s part of the fun. The technology is so new, though, it’s spawned its own language. You hear these words all the time, but we thought it would be helpful to have the definitions in front of you as you evaluate business VoIP solutions. So, we’ve created this handy list of 10 hosted VoIP-related terms for you to keep nearby.

Our definitions will help you understand not only what they mean, but why they’re important to a reliable and powerful business VoIP system. Before you know it, you’ll be impressing—and maybe even intimidating—business VoIP sales reps with your expert knowledge.

Private Branch Exchange

A private branch exchange – more commonly known as a PBX – is a system that connects all of the phones in a building. Basically, it allows users to make both internal and external calls on shared phone lines. Think of a PBX as your old-school switch operator, but automated. The major benefit of a PBX is that it allows organizations to have a ratio of internal to external lines.

Let’s say you run a brewery with 75 employees. Not all of them need to be talking on the public network at one time. In all likelihood, only about 10 of them will. With a PBX, you pay only for 10 lines rather than 75. Internal calls go through the PBX and are free – yes, free – so you can start adding other capabilities, like paging.

Then let’s say you open a second brewery. PBX still has you covered with a private connection between each location’s system. Thanks to the PBX, employees at both breweries can internally dial each other. Sounds pretty good, right?

Hosted PBX

Now that you have a better understanding of what a PBX does, let’s move on to a hosted PBX. At the brewing company, you own the privately managed call controller or server on which the PBX operates. A hosted PBX resides in the cloud. It’s a virtual PBX system delivered through your internet connection.

What’s great about a hosted PBX is that you don’t need to house or maintain any hardware or equipment. Everything is stored in the cloud, and the PBX provider handles maintenance. You get all of the benefits of a PBX system without any of the worry or headache. Your business also becomes adaptive, easily evolving and scaling as needs change.

Typically, a hosted system’s subscription cost includes updates and new functionality, though you should always be sure to ask prospective providers about this. A hosted PBX allows your business to take advantage of advances in technology right away.

IP Desk Phone

Now let’s dig into some of the devices your employees may use on a daily basis with a business VoIP system. An IP desk phone looks a lot like a traditional desktop phone, but it uses VoIP technology (the internet) to make calls. There’s a huge range of options available when it comes to IP phone selection. You want superior voice quality, obviously, but you also need to decide what other features you need.

For example, how important is support for Bluetooth or USB handsets? Given the array of options, we typically recommend you review all options with your vendor to accurately determine which type of desk phone best meets your employees’ needs.


A softphone is a piece of software that allows you to make calls over the internet through any device that has a supported speaker and microphone. What exactly does this mean for your business? For one thing, your employees can make phone calls without using a physical telephone. Translation: You’ll have less equipment to purchase.

Softphones require a headset and microphone and will typically include business phone system features such as call transfers, call waiting and call routing. 

Because VoIP calls are usually less expensive than traditional landline calls, the cost savings of softphones go beyond physical equipment. In addition, if you choose a robust business VoIP system, your team gets access to additional features such as video conferencing, call center integration, instant chat and SMS messaging.

Virtual Phone Numbers for Business

Numbers that aren’t anchored to a specific phone are called virtual phone numbers. They’re used to forward calls to other phone numbers. Virtual numbers can be used on any communications device, including smartphones and desktops.

From a business perspective, virtual phone numbers deliver cost savings. Since they can be used across several phones, you have fewer phones to purchase. These virtual numbers can also be set to any area code, reducing long distance expenses and creating a local presence in the country where the call originated. Toll-free virtual numbers enable customers to call your business free of charge.

Another benefit is the option to create a unique virtual phone number for each department or business unit. Calls can be routed by set rules or via an IVR to improve the overall flow and organization of your communications.

Single Sign-On

While you probably know what this one means, you may not have a clear understanding of why it’s important. Single sign-on (SSO) is an authentication process that gives users access to a host of proprietary business applications and systems with one set of credentials. That means your employees don’t have to juggle multiple usernames and passwords. (We can hear the cheering now.)

IT departments also benefit from SSO. The drastic reduction in requests to locate or reset login credentials allows your technology staff to focus on more value-added tasks. As a whole your organization becomes more secure since there are fewer credentials that can be compromised.

Single Pane of Glass

As the name implies, this is all about visibility. “Single pane of glass” relates to a management tool that unifies data and interfaces across several sources and presents them in a single view. You get a better perspective on what information is valuable, and that information is more readily available for your employees to act on.

When uniting disparate data sources into a single pane of glass view, users usually work with a dashboard that has a graphic interface so users can interact with the data and even generate custom reports.

But remember, we also mentioned interfaces in this definition. With communications systems, businesses often use multiple tools. A single pane of glass gives employees access to all of their communications and collaboration tools in one view. For example, MiCloud Connect Contact Center integrates chat, multiple customer interactions, call profile information and more.

Persistent Workspace

Persistent workspaces are ongoing virtual rooms where teams can collaborate via messaging, tasks, file sharing and more. If a user leaves the room, the conversation continues on. When they return, they will be alerted of missed chats and as well as messages, tasks and files specific to them.

A persistent workspace, such as the ones available in Mitel Teamwork, gives employees and team members access to all of the information they need in a single solution. Users save time, and productivity increases.

Automatic Call Distributor

If you operate an inbound call center, you need virtual queuing. Call centers use an automatic call distributor (ACD) – a device that answers and distributes incoming calls to specific groups within the center. With a virtual queue, callers have the option to hang up and have the system call them back when their turn comes up. While they wait, they can go about their day, without the hassle of sitting on hold. This can make your customer’s day.

Workforce Management

When we talk about workforce management (WFM) in relation to UCaaS, we’re referring to software solutions that improve the overall customer experience. This starts in the contact center. A WFM solution puts the most appropriate person in the right place at the right time.

For a better understanding of how this works, check out MiCloud Connect CX, a cloud-based contact center tool that’s easy to set up and is intuitive to use. Plan and manage your contact center with ease and end the all-too-often nightmare that is scheduling.

Now that you’ve read our list, consider yourself well-armed to search for the right UCaaS solution provider. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what you need versus what you want, and what you may need in the future. You can make a well-informed decision – one that will deliver all of the efficiency, productivity and reliability you expect

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