Google Voice comes to Belper
Over the years my work has entailed a lot of travelling in international destinations to provide consultancy and management support on larger projects. While in theory I have an office in Belper, no work other than checking the accounts is done there. We've got used to working from hotel rooms, construction sites, airport lounges and clients' offices. Our IT infrastructure used to be local server PC's with good network connections. We still have the relic machines sitting cold in the cellar of the Old Post Office. Now all of our work is in "The Cloud" of the Internet, all of our documents are held on the Servers of Amazon and Google. We can work from anywhere and access any document from any location with some form of Internet. All paper documents we receive are scanned and held on-line. If we need to keep the original documents they are sent to secure remote storage. All photographs, project schedules, design plans and drawings are held in the internet for securely controlled remote access.
For general purpose documents, correspondence, spreadsheets we generally use Google's GSuite office software. Our email system is a business version of Gmail. It provides all the facilities we need except in rare exceptions and runs on just about any laptop or desktop PC, and when needs must it can be accessed by smartphone. We do have a copy of Microsoft Office, but that is used for converting documents passed to/from clients who use the Microsoft Office Suite. For document sharing outside of our organisation we use Adobe Acrobat's pdf software; we don't own the software, we rent it by the month.
This process keeps us away from the worry of having to update the office software on the PC's and laptops, it is all done for us by the suppliers.
Our business telephone system is also "on the net" and our phone numbers follow us around the world. If someone calls our London or Belper number it rolls over to our mobile phone/laptop computer in Moscow or New York. When we use the phone for outgoing calls they go via the Internet. We do not pay the local hotel telephone rates to call other locations in the world. We save many hundreds of pounds by not paying standard international call charges.
So imagine our delight when Google recently announced they are making Google Voice available in the UK. It's been around, for outgoing calls, for a while, but outside of the USA you couldn't have an incoming phone number. Now, that has changed. If you are a subscriber to the Google GSuite services you can now lease a phone number(s) from Google. You can manage the phone numbers and assign them to members of your team. It ties in nicely with your smartphone, PC's and laptops. Most importantly, the voice quality is really good. If you do not answer a call, the caller can leave a voice message. As part of the service Google automatically transcribe the message into text and send you the text as an email.
You get a complete system from £10/month per user. So, here in the Old Post Office, we are trialling the Google Voice phone system. We'll keep the BT lines we already have, but we won't be making any calls via BT. To give you an idea of the savings: we have someone based in Australia, a 13 minute call to a mobile phone via BT cost £11.43; via Google Voice it would cost £3.51. Even in the UK a 3:24 minute call, via BT, to a mobile phone costs £0.60; via Google the call would cost £0.04.