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Talk of the Town: VoIP is Evolving and it's Making Everyone More Productive
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Communication is the key to success for any business. Technologies that promise to enhance the way people communicate in a business environment have always found quick adoption among enterprises. VoIP, because of the tremendous transformation it has brought to the business communications sphere, has fared no differently.

VoIP services deliver irrefutable advantages to businesses of all scales and sizes. Here’s a quick look:

• VoIP helps companies move from a capital expenditure model to operational expenditure model.
• These services can be enabled on your existing devices.
• In conjugation with IoT, VoIP is set to become a driver for enterprises toward achieving the futuristic “smart office” concept, where phones will communicate with all kind of devices.
• VoIP connections are secure, stable, and offer value-added services such as call forwarding, teleconferencing, autoresponders, and a lot more.

Dynamics of the VoIP market
Right from the time of inception of VoIP technology to today, there’s never been a year where the growth of the technology has stagnated, and that’s true across each segment within this market. Last year saw a lot of growth, as expected. Reports vary on the number of VoIP installations worldwide, but it’s a fair estimate that there are already 1 billion connections in use. No other communication technology has showcased such rollicking growth numbers for such a long duration. Apart from all the benefits that VoIP technology brings to the enterprise, there have been other factors that are likely to contribute to its growth.

• The market is still far from being saturated; new players enter all the time, causing existing competition to intensify, and end users benefit from it.
• A National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI) report suggest that 41 states in the U.S. have reduced or eliminated their wired telecom oversight, in favor of VoIP.
• Already, VoIP is the No. 1 telephone service option chosen by U.S. businesses, with 36 percent of them opting for this technology.
• Several U.S. states (Illinois among the latest joiners) have authorized and prepared for sunsetting of copper landline services, nudging telecom companies to invest resources toward developing VoIP and other similar future-ready modes of communication.

An enabler of unified communication
Voice telephony is certainly not the only communication channel relevant for the modern enterprise. Data, voice, video, mobile — every communication channel is important, and ideally, enterprises look to accumulate all of these into a single platform. This enables the delivery of a unified communications platform for end users. VoIP technology, it turns out, is at the core of unified communications. It enables functionalities such as instant messaging, voice calling, teleconferencing, video calling, and group video calling using the same workflow, and from any device enabled with a suitable VoIP application. This enables end users to communicate quickly, effectively, and in a manner that makes information transmission secure and reliable.

How it is enabling communication mobility
Mobility is the key catalyst responsible for the unabated growth of VoIP technology. The three reasons why enterprises still using fixed landline telephony are looking to switch to VoIP solutions are:

• The need to forward calls to their mobile devices.
• The need for a flexible voicemail system that can be easily accessed via a mobile device.
• The need for a phone system that enabled interoperability with existing mobile phones.
Startups in IP telephony market are investing heavily in Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and HDVoice, among other advanced communication technologies. Expect a lot of mergers and acquisitions in this space in 2018, as incumbents look to buy out startups with highly niche capabilities in enabling enterprises to enjoy the best of IP telephony and communications mobility.

High-quality voice communication
Low-quality of voice data transmission across continents has been a major productivity roadblock for enterprises. Almost 20 years back, when VoIP technology made its first appearances in the communications market, there were real and genuine concerns about voice quality. Bandwidth availability and stress on existing network are the key determiners of quality of voice over VoIP.

The big four cell service vendors have worked in tandem with voice quality engineers for extended periods and addressed these challenges to a great degree. All of these vendors, for instance, offer HDVoice and VoLTE services. Cloud-based VoIP as well as cellular network based VoIP services, today, promise supremely rich voice quality, both over voice and video calling. More players are offering similar services to SMBs, startups, as well as enterprises, leveraging advanced software and cloud-based computing capabilities.

Advances in interoperability
User experience of VoIP services have made rapid advances in the past few years. However, there are still concerns and inconsistencies across the interoperability aspects. Mostly, this is a result of the breakneck speed at which business communication functions have been ported to mobile devices. Meeting planning, conference calls, email, data analysis, project planning — you name it, and smartphones support these functions both via hardware and software components. This has nudged VoIP innovators into investing more resources toward assuring the seamless coming together of mobile communications and back-office operations.

Integration with apps
Multitasking workforces are an asset to the modern enterprise. Employees prefer to complete their tasks without moving between applications, devices, and platforms. In sync with this trend, it’s seen that enterprise applications offer ease of integration with third-party apps and services. In the times to come, we will witness a lot of integration between products and cloud-based platforms using APIs. For instance, customer relationship management app suites and help desk program will be easily integrated using these APIs. This trend toward all-encompassing integration between cloud-based VoIP apps and enterprise workforce will help companies meet their productivity goals.

Take it to the next level
VoIP technology has grown by leaps and bounds and continues to do so. Enterprises that are looking to take their communications capabilities to the next level need to track the latest trends from the VoIP world, to be able to adopt them and grab the first mover’s advantage.
Stephanie Plante
June 3, 2019