Communications trends don’t affect just your business—they touch all SMBs and enterprises. Technology surrounds us and continues to evolve, especially when it comes to communications. We've compiled a list of seven trends, which play into the decisions you'll likely consider when moving to VoIP.
- BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
BYOD reflects the rise of smart devices in the consumer world. With mobile broadband almost everywhere, demand has made these devices affordable. Almost everyone in the office has one. Employees increasingly bring these devices to work with the expectation of using them for both business and personal communication. This puts tremendous strain on the network, increases security risks, and reduces the IT department’s ability to manage data flows.
To address this trend, businesses upgrade their networks with better management tools and security elements, but the habits of mobile users tend to evolve faster than IT’s ability to keep pace. BYOD may continue to pose challenges for businesses. As part of the broader mobility trend, cellular use will only get more complex and costly. Of course, banning mobility outright at work simply isn’t an option.
BYOD is much more about data than voice. To the extent that BYOD represents a pain point for your business, you can rest assured that SIP phones fall outside this realm, making VoIP a relatively low-risk investment.
- Cell Phones
Some businesses have moved away from desk phones completely. However, most businesses are not ready to do this. When it comes to telephony, VoIP remains the best path. Web-based mobility may become the preferred mode for data applications, but for everyday telephony, desk phones cost less and offer more reliability. Also consider the user experience. Many people find mobile devices less comfortable. Mobile callers are also at the mercy of battery life limitations and dead zones when roaming around the office.
Keep in mind that the definition of mobility is broad, and, in some cases, mobility inside the office environment is more important than being mobile outside the office. In this regard, DECT-based cordless SIP phones can provide sufficient mobility coverage for telephony, with many advantages over personal wireless devices.
- Cloud communications
Over time, the cloud will play an even bigger role than cellular mobility. You can attribute the rise of VoIP to the broader shift of technology from hardware to software. Businesses have the ability to move applications and services from premise-based to hosted in the cloud. This means businesses give up ownership in favor of the cash flow-friendly, decentralized approach to managing communications technology.
This evolution is great news for you, as VoIP is a relatively easy service to host in the cloud. In the past, VoIP options for SMBs were limited, with the offerings only moderately attractive price-wise and often too complex for existing IT resources to manage. Cloud-based VoIP scales up or down seamlessly, making it viable for businesses of all sizes and highly adaptable for varying demand levels and growth scenarios when adding new locations or headcount. Another virtue of the hosted model is the ease of deploying VoIP with SIP phones. Along with the affordability of these phones, the overall value proposition is strong, especially when compared to legacy telephony.
- Changing workplace
As demographics trend younger, millennials are changing the workplace. The nature of work continues to evolve in today’s internet-centric world and information-based economy. Millennials see themselves as tech-savvy knowledge workers, with expectations different from their pre-internet co-workers. They expect a flexible and customizable phone experience, and will likely find VoIP familiar.
Beyond these expectations, however, people have changed how and where work gets done. Businesses are increasingly decentralized, especially when serving a global customer base. A disparate workforce may rarely meet in the same place to collaborate. If this describes your reality, then VoIP is definitely the right move, especially for providing a distributed employee base with a reliable form of real-time communications.
Real-time tools like email and chat deliver efficiency, but telephony remains more immersive. Plus, the intimacy helps employees feel connected. SIP phones play a key role in delivering that experience, and their affordability makes it easy to support all employees—no matter where they’re located.
- Improved productivity
Competitive pressures facing businesses today make productivity a core driver of success. Everyone wants to be productive, but people have too many tools at their fingertips, too much information, and too many demands on their time. Most SMBs welcome new tools that boost productivity, especially those easy to deploy and easy for employees to use.
VoIP fits those requirements well. When deployed from the cloud, SIP phones make VoIP a plug-and-play service, which works from any internet connection. This matters when you consider VoIP has a richer feature set than legacy services. While it’s easy to think of telephony as a one-dimensional commodity, VoIP is highly customizable, allowing companies and their employees to tailor features to their specific preferences.
With analog solutions, businesses usually only receive basic features like dial tone, voicemail and call forwarding. But SIP web-based management offers more: IVR auto attendant, DID routing, traditional voicemail and voicemail-to-email. SIP providers usually include these features in monthly costs, which ultimately may help reduce overall costs. This level of flexibility is an upgrade from legacy telephony. Once employees begin using these features, productivity often improves.
- Growing complexity
Cost-conscious businesses often outsource IT-managed resources to cloud-based hosted deployment models. SIP telephony has matured to the point where outsourcing IT has become the deployment model of choice.
Key implications of the increasingly complex nature of technology include the high cost and expertise needed by IT departments to properly support legacy telephony. When businesses migrate to VoIP, this outdated knowledge is no longer necessary, and the cost savings can be allocated to other valuable areas where IT is needed.
Even though your IT department may not be trained to adopt VoIP, the cloud is highly intuitive and simple to use. SIP phones make this an even easier decision; end-users can do a lot of their own customizing, resulting in fewer demands on IT than legacy phones require.
- Legacy losing relevance
The sum of the overall impact of the above trends is perhaps the most telling shift in terms of what the future holds. While most businesses still have functioning legacy phone systems, virtually everything else they use is based on modern technology. The PSTN (public switched telephone network) may have once been the gold standard for telephony, but the cost doesn’t justify the benefit. VoIP is simply a better technology for voice.
The need for telephony does not change, but the technology has. Same goes for the role of telephony. Voice remains one of the best forms of real-time communication, but its value declines the longer it remains segregated from all the other modes used to get work done. Where legacy telephony functions in its own closed world, VoIP is seamlessly tied into everything else by virtue of running over the same network as email, chat and video. This is how people work today, and SIP phones provide a bridge between the old and the new. Since the experience basically replicates legacy systems, SIP phones are familiar for employees, so there is little to no barrier to usage. At the same time, they add business value by bringing telephony into the 21st century with new features that make employees more productive.