VoIP and the Workplace
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a telephony platform leveraging IP packets for voice-communication services. Since VOIP is based on IP and can support unified communication (UC), enterprise VoIP significantly simplifies communication both within and external to the organization, by expanding the range of available messaging and data-exchange resources.
Enterprise VoIP also stimulates future growth, stemming from expanded application of cost-effective VC/data-channel and infrastructure technologies. Increased reliance on cloud and mobile services has generated a diversity of corporate operating systems and workforce cultures, unforeseen even ten years ago. These are transforming the nature of the enterprise and how work flows are impacted.
The emergence of this tendency is market-driven. Firms must remain in sync with these developments and keep their internal implementations up to date, if they are to maintain a competitive position within their industry.
Prevalent Trends in Enterprise VoIP
There is no stopping of the expansion and variety of direct and indirect applications that tie into enterprise VoIP; among the most prevalent trends supporting this development are:
- The Internet of Things (IoT): Both as a concept and reality, IoT simply means establishing online connections for and between objects of any category, regardless of how disassociated they might otherwise seem. By 2020, 26 billion objects, “things” — ranging from smartphones to light switches, laptops to wearables to televisions — are expected to reside (be interconnected) on the Internet. In this smart-environment, enhanced mobility will allow workers to access the office from virtually anywhere through VoIP-enabled phones, to manage office security, lighting, thermostats, elevators and even coffee-makers. Enterprise VoIP will be used to customize business operations according to place and opportunity on a global basis, while improving local working conditions and scheduling.
- Expanded use of soft phones: Desk telephony remains a substantial part of business communications. However, employees are starting to move away from desk phones. Expanded utility of soft phone devices — mobile phones, laptops, tablets — is very evident, as it allows greater functionality and feature set from browser-based clients. VoIP is the most significant driver of this trend, which is especially prevalent for small business (SMB) hosted VoIP/UC solutions, marketed essentially as a subscription service with minimal hardware installation or expenditure, which brings us to our next point.
- Hosted VoIP Business Contact Centers/Cloud PBX: Hosted enterprise IP-PBX systems generate better business performance through more reliable, scalable, and routable calling services, enhanced mobile access, improved customer service/satisfaction and reduced maintenance. Workforce software associated with hosted VoIP leads to better employee organization, and more efficient resource allocation, improving its return-on-investment (ROI). Faster access to data enhances competitive position for the hosted solutions, as the faster broadband speeds help in reliability and quality of the calls. The trend towards pure IP hosted PBX systems enables access to reduced calling rates, lower IP-cost, and expanded capacities for UC-customization for virtually any operational requirement, providing performance superior to on-premises PBX systems. Key component to keep in mind is the WAN quality for the branch offices accessing the hosted VOIP solution.
- Enhanced Cloud Platform/Productivity Integration: Integrating cloud-based enterprise VoIP with associated platforms for office productivity, customer relationship management (CRM), and similar back-office uses, enables the entire range SMB-UC applications, another growing trend that improves ROI.
- Expansion of Collaborative Solutions: The ongoing convergence of enterprise VoIP and UC services — live-chat, messaging, video-conferencing, etc. — should soon surpass email use for in-house business communications. The subsequent reduction of departmental, back-and-forth email chains will enhance corporate productivity. Moreover, additional acceptance of the open-source Web Real-Time Communication (Web RTC) standard will encourage direct-browser voice and video calling, with embedded-coding; no add-ons, browser plug-ins, desktop or mobile apps will be needed, supporting further convergence of VoIP and UC.
No matter the trend, enterprise VoIP usage is quickly becoming an essential component of future business telephone services, reshaping corporate communication and commerce. Mobile devices are increasingly being used as primary handsets of enterprise VoIP. As organizations embrace this transition from the conventional desk telephony infrastructure to cloud and mobility, enterprise VoIP will become the voice of business.
Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc.
Mushroom Networks is the provider of the VOIP Armor device that enables self-healing WAN networks for VOIP / SIP traffic by routing around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.