Image from Mitel.com
We’ve come a long way from the early days of business phones. Today’s systems are a lot more than just telephones: they are comprehensive business communication solutions that connect every aspect of a business and offer mobile service, contact solutions, video conferencing, reports and analysis, and easy collaboration. Mitel’s Mi Cloud is one of the best such platforms for small and medium-sized organizations.
Today’s business phone systems offer landline connections, cloud-hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, backups in case your internet connection or lines go out, call routing, customizable reports, collaboration solutions for projects, and scalability: meaning your phone system can grow with you. There are a lot of choices out there these days, so we have taken a look at Mi Cloud and three other similar phones systems so you can find the right one for your business needs.
What Is Mi Cloud?
Mitel’s Mi Cloud is a Canadian-based business communication solution that can work with businesses of nearly any size. They’ve been providing communication solutions for 40 years now, and this kind of experience makes them stand out in the field. Mi Cloud has also worked hard to establish collaboration with companies like Microsoft and Blackberry so that their mobile integrations and collaboration solutions work seamlessly with your company’s existing software.
Mi Cloud offers stripped down plans and complex support systems, depending on your needs. At its most basic, their service offers basic VoIP and call control, hold music, forwarding from voicemail to email, and the ability for each user to be connected to one device.
The next step up offers parallel ringing, MiTeam collaboration, unlimited calling, two connected devices per user, and access to both desktop and mobile software. Their top tier plan will give give you four devices per user, Microsoft Exchange, CRM integration, and access to Mi Cloud’s proprietary analytics and collaboration designed to help you use your communications solutions to grow your business.
Mi Cloud makes it easy to adjust your plan with them as your business grows: in fact, you can put some users on at one price tier and other users at another for maximum flexibility. You can adjust these tiers and users as teams change, projects finish, or you otherwise have need.
Mi Cloud offers a nice set of business phones that are already configured to use their protocols. They also have IP desktop phones, analog devices, Voice over Wi Fi devices, and VoIP adaptors. Their desktop and mobile software will work on any computer and on both Android and Apple devices.
When you log in, you’ll get a nice, clear page that shows you the status of your whole system and what’s happened since you last logged in. The billing portal and admin page are easy to navigate, and you can allow anyone either user or admin permissions as you like.
Under the admin log in, you have the power to really customize Mi Cloud to make it work for you. You can assign types of calls to specific users, manage the call queue, set new hold music, and adjust all the rules for forwarding and voicemail.
All the business communication solutions we reviewed start their base plans at around $20 and go up from there. The most expensive plans with all the bells and whistles, like live chat, unlimited video conferencing, and agent summary reports, can easily run you nearly $200 a month. Lots of great plans are available in the $30 and $40 range, however.
How It Compares
In addition to Mi Cloud, we’ve also considered these options:
Ease of Use
?Mi Cloud has really gone out of their way to be easy to use. They understand that small businesses don’t always have the personnel to devote to IT and figuring out all the technical details of a modern cloud-based business communication system, so they make it easy for you.
Their software is clean and intuitive, you get quick and reliable help, and you can customize many aspects to make it work for you. The mobile Mi Cloud app is actually easier to use than the desktop software, and that’s saying a lot.
Overall, this is an excellent system, especially given the price. You can expect a solid platform that integrates nicely with all kinds of CRM systems, like Salesforce, Soho, and Oracle. It works natively with Microsoft systems and integration and use are smooth and reliable.
Mi Cloud excels in the area of customer support, too. They know their clientele and get consistently good rankings from users. They offer especially close support for the first three days while you get used to their system, and after that it’s easy to get in touch with an agent. To get even more help, you can connect with one of their expert Dealers.
Jive Hosted VoIP
Jive’s system is aimed squarely at the medium-sized business. They offer a business VoIP system that you work with by simply plugging their phones into your internet system and configuring it all at their website portal.
You get most of the basic features and a few extras like a virtual fax service and video conferencing in HD. Jive is also offering new services all the time, and for a fairly steep fee you can access some seriously advanced video features. The basic plan is priced about the same as everyone else; but that plan doesn’t get you the same features as Mi Cloud. However their Video Pro system is quite spectacular and well worth the price.
Ease of Use
Jive have worked hard to make their system easy to use. Setup is quick, and it’s pretty simple to keep up with billing, change up your settings, and get the phone numbers you want. There aren’t as many features to control as with Mi Cloud, but there is enough here to do the job for most people.
Jive offers a solid platform, but there’s still room to improve. The system offers lots of different reports, for example, but it’s not easy to customize your view of them to something you can share and understand easily. You also don’t get a cloud storage offering, which is a real swing and a miss when you consider that Mi Cloud and RingCentral consider this a basic feature.
Jive consistently gets compliments for their excellent customer service. Words like “fantastic” often crop up in real reviews.
Vonage Business Cloud
For a long time, Vonage was the VoIP provider to beat. As other companies started stiffening the competition, Vonage has worked hard to keep up and have largely done a good job. Their basic service provides all the VoIP features you would expect plus video conferencing and collaboration services, as well as a great cloud system with Multi-protocol Label Switching.
Their advanced plans include a lot of great features like call groups, visual voicemail, and 20+ lines. Their cloud system is hosted by Amazon, which helps ensure security for your data. Vonage is also working hard to develop their SD-WAN tech, which basically means you won’t need much in the way of gear to use their system.
Ease of Use
Vonage has recently re-done a lot of their systems to make them more user friendly and intuitive. This has been pretty successful, and their setup wizard is quite helpful. If you order your gear through them, it all comes pre-configured for you.
Vonage offers great features, many plug-ins and integrations, lots of reporting data for you to customize and respond to, and excellent analysis capabilities. They even have a “sentiment analysis” API that can tell a customer’s mood and let you know if you should intervene on a call.
Like a lot of bigger companies, Vonage can fall down a bit in the customer service department. While setup is easy, their wizard words well, and customer service is technically 24/7, it can be harder to get a hold of someone who can actually solve your problem.
RingCentral is in the running with Wi Cloud for best business communication platform out there. Their AI is second to none, they offer lots of customization and integration, and their prices are reasonable. Their higher-tier plans offer call recording and 2,500 minutes of toll-free calling.
Even their basic plan offers some advanced features? like video conferencing and online collaboration software. Their mobile app works with Android or iOS and their basic plan gives you HD video, unlimited conference calls, and business SMS. They also offer integration with Microsoft Office.
Ease of Use
RingCentral is actually one of the easiest solutions to work with. The only trick is setting up your gear. Other business communication services will send you gear pre-configured; with RingCentral you’ll have to do some of that yourself, and you may have trouble if you’re using generic gear.
We’re very impressed with what RingCentral offers. The only real issue is whether your network can handle RingCentral under load: that is, if a majority of your people are using the service at the same time. You might have issues if you’re using a VPN or don’t have plenty of solid bandwidth.
You get great help and service from RingCentral. Real users consistently rate their support as “great,” and they’ve made a name for themselves just in this area alone.
Every one of the business communication platforms we looked at does the job. You can’t go entirely wrong with any of them, and prices aren’t terribly far removed from one another unless you want certain high-end features. All of these companies have good mobile apps, most have good support, and they are all relatively easy to use. However we do have our favorites.
Best for Small Business
If you’re a small business and likely to stay that way for a while, then RingCentral is our recommendation. You save money by skipping some unnecessary features while getting a good price for the basics, great support, and good functionality. They also make it easy to switch things up from month-to-month billing, annual, or bi-annual contracts.
Best for Medium Business
If your company has more than just a few people, then we would suggest Mi Cloud as the best solution out there. There’s plenty of adjustability, and we especially like that you get the freedom to tier your people on different price plans as you need. They make it simple to adjust on the fly, which saves you money but allows you to flex as business demands.
Best for Growth
If you’re a smaller company now but can see growth on the near ?horizon, then you might want to consider Jive. They are working hard to adjust with you and offer easy ways to upscale your operation without up-scaling hardware or shelling out for infrastructure.
Best for Large Business
If you have a large business, then you might want to consider the stability and speed that come with Vonage. You likely already have a solid, fast internet connection, so their system will work well and integrate with all the software you’re likely already using.
Whichever business VoIP provider you choose, make sure you ask plenty of questions before you pull the trigger. After all, this aspect of collaboration and customer services can make or break your business.© Incomestorage