The sustained low prices of oil may be great for consumers, but they are taking their toll on North American oil companies. The oil market has been contracting for several months, and companies are either tightening their belts or closing their doors. Gone are the days where your high-cost projects would be offset by the favorable barrel prices. According to a report from Goldman Sachs, businesses will need to cut their costs by up to 30% to maintain a profit on their high-cost ventures, with oil prices now at a sustained $70 per barrel12—and prices are expected to dip down to an average of $40 for the year.3

In times like these, the industry needs to take stock: this is one of those “natural selection” times that Darwin was talking about. Evolve and adjust, or stagnate and go under. There’s a good reason why the data management market for oil and gas companies is projected to have such staggering growth over the next four years:4 IT is one of the most crucial ways to cut costs and, in many cases, significantly increase revenues. But it’s one thing to blanketly suggest that you need to update your company’s IT, and another to actually have a SMART way forward (that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound).

Learning how easy it is to slash costs with VoIP

A good place to start is the oft-overlooked phone network. It’s reliable, it’s old, and it’s the type of technology that has been there for so long that it seems an immovable fixture—you don’t think of it when considering cost-saving measures. However, changing your phone infrastructure to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will have a significant effect on your monthly expenses. Essentially, it routes all of your phone calls through the Internet instead of telecom lines. This eliminates the costs of long-distance expenses, gives you flexibility during normal times and emergencies, and opens the door to all sorts of features that telecom line-based phones could never deliver. There’s also the huge decreases in labor, materials, installation complexity, and management. Adding the VoIP network to your data lines means that your IT folks need only worry about this one interconnected network, instead of having entirely separate processes and procedures for your network and the legacy phone system you currently have. It provides a lot of little areas of savings that quickly add up.

Just like switching services in any other area, there will be some initial costs of installation; that said, it’s an ingeniously simple infrastructure that makes the installation quick and painless; the system then rapidly pays for itself. Some businesses can get by with DSL, while larger enterprises may be better suited with Ethernet over copper—but an assessment can accurately determine the best system for your firm. And the infrastructure is very simple to expand, which means adding lines as you grow is inexpensive and painless.

What the first few months will look like

When they first think about switching, our potential VoIP customers always ask the same question: What happens when the Internet goes down? Will our phones cut out? Will consumers be left hanging? Fortunately, we have also thought of that, and can install automatic workarounds that forward calls to another location, or even your cell phone, in the event of an interrupted connection. This is why many East Coast businesses using VoIP were able to weather Hurricane Sandy when phone lines went down; California can be just as volatile, making it important to have failovers in place.

Another important feature of any business is the appearance of aptitude (and, further, excellence) in every customer-facing element of the business. VoIP provides a reliable, fast, and modern medium for consumers to interact with your business. Maintaining a sense of continuity is crucial, especially in these trying times—you need to be able to have a means for your consumers and employees to get through in any circumstance. Utilizing VoIP opens the door to activities like real-time call activity monitoring, forwarding of all your calls and voicemails to your phone and email (respectively), and advanced recording of conference calls and meetings.

Once your VoIP is up and running, you should keep in mind that additional IT solutions can save your firm tens of thousands of dollars (or more5), such as implementing a cloud computing framework that will improve efficiency and reduce shrinkage. Giving your business a tech-savvy edge and hitting the oil recession head-on will keep you from going the way of the fossils that you’re pulling out of the ground.

There is no easy way through a recession. But you don’t need to make it harder on yourself by sticking with outdated and limited phone technology. Reaching out to us at DiamondIT will let you batten down the hatches and come out on the other side6 stronger and faster.