In 2018, enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become standard infrastructure for business communications systems, and it’s easy to see why. With benefits like cost-savings, efficiency, flexibility and scalability, enterprise VoIP deployments will only continue to grow. As this growth continues, how can your enterprise use the power of VoIP to expand and improve your business operations? Following, we’ll examine some important trends related to the direction enterprise VoIP is heading in 2018 and beyond.
1. Mobile UC: Expanded Mobile Integration and UC Functionality
Over the past year, the popularity and diversity of mobile app usage has expanded significantly with the introduction of 5G technology and embedded or integrated apps across mobile devices. Apps like West’s Mobile Connect mobilize the office and give users a richer VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) experience. Going forward, smartphones will only be able to truly replace traditional phone systems when they can replicate all of their functionality. Trends to look for will include enhanced team collaboration, content sharing and additional meeting support. These expansions are a natural result of the rising number of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) adoptions.
Another enterprise VoIP trend related to mobile UC is something Apple calls “Continuity.” Continuity is defined as the ability to start a task on one device and have it carryover seamlessly across other devices. For instance, a task can start with the ability to take a call on a desk handset and then transfer it over to a mobile device, while keeping the call live. It is now being expanded to include real-time continuity for other UC implementations such as chat, conferencing, video and content sharing. Products like West Mobile Connect and Cisco Jabber fulfill the driving need for mobile UC and continuity. They both provide powerful feature sets that can be accessed across a variety of devices.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Advancements in VoIP Operations
AI is a cool trend in and of itself, but it can also be used in a myriad of ways to enhance enterprise VoIP systems. For instance, AI might be used to seek out and automatically repair quality of service (QoS) issues caused by network issues or latency. This technology could heal the network before human involvement is required.
It’s possible that AI will also be developed to improve unified communications applications such as analyzing speech patterns in voice conversations and emails in real-time. This analysis could then generate important insights into business trends and sales data, resulting in improved marketing efforts and better customer service. This kind of AI technology is currently in the prototype stage as telecom developers continue to test its implementation possibilities.
Finally, AI is also enhancing the capabilities of call answering via voice assistants. Improved language-processing AI technology in voice assistants - such as Alexa, Cortana and Siri - use AI to learn from their customer interactions. These assistants are gaining experience for improved interpretations of customer requests. In an enterprise VoIP application, voice bots could handle FAQ-type inquiries for customer service agents, enabling quicker issue handling and freeing up live agents to resolve escalated issues.
3. R.I.P POTS (Plain Old Telephone Systems)
With the aging infrastructure of traditional copper landlines, many telecom companies are choosing to either replace them with fiber cabling or simply abandon them to focus on and invest in more wireless and internet-based (VoIP) phone networks.
Telecom industry data estimates nearly 42 million business users will be subscribed to VoIP services in 2018 -- which is almost double the number of VoIP implementations from four years ago. As the need for digital voice, video and data sharing among enterprises increases, so does the rate of enterprise VoIP deployments, and POTS no longer possesses the technology to meet these needs.
4. Security is Still a Priority
Exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities on VoIP networks is not a new trick for cyber criminals. But, as VoIP continues to gain popularity, the number of attacks on VoIP networks has also continued to rise. Since VoIP sends calls through the same path your network uses for internet and other traffic, VoIP connections can open your network to attack and exploitation. This means network security will be more important than ever as organizations expand their use of VoIP and wireless networks.
West’s MaxxSecure is a complete network security solution that can keep enterprise VoIP networks protected from current and potential threats. With a managed firewall, spam filtering, virus and spyware protection, web content monitoring and filtering, and virtual private networking (VPN), complete security solutions like MaxxSecure will ensure that the enterprise VoIP network remains properly secured and protected.
5. Internet of Things (IoT) and VoIP
In 2018, mobile phones are expected to be surpassed in numbers by IoT devices. And by 2020, around 26 billion objects will be connected to one another over the Internet according to estimates by Siemens. With device connectivity across the Internet now in the zettabytes, enterprise VoIP will play an important role in controlling IoT office automation.
VoIP-enabled phones and other devices will become common tools in the enterprise to perform activities such as reserving desk space for mobile employees or booking space for trade shows. And in that reserved space, employees could use interfacing IoT mobile apps to control and customize the lighting and setup of their workspace – and maybe even to control the coffee maker!
5 Must Watch Enterprise VoIP Trends in 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017 - 15:30
The adoption of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services has grown by leaps and bounds in the business arena in recent years, due in part to all the ways that VoIP can offer added value to organizations. VoIP services can reduce capital and other operational expenses, offer advanced features and can work on virtually any device. Following, we examine five significant trends pertaining to enterprise VoIP in 2017.
1. Effect of Internet of Things (IOT) on networks
An important trend in enterprise VoIP is the way it impacts the Internet of Things (IoT). It is predicted that by 2020 almost 26 billion objects or “things” will be connected/reside in the Internet. (Siemens) The IoT, for those unfamiliar, is the concept of connecting anything with an on/off switch to the internet and to each other. This could mean connecting your cell phone to your coffee maker or other appliances. In the near future, VoIP will become integral to the Smart Home (CDW) through the use of VoIP-enabled phones that can control automation.
These VoIP phones will likely be key devices for the Smart Office. For the many mobile employees that roam between offices, these enterprise VoIP phones could be used to reserve desk space and customize the hoteling environment they plan to work from in an upcoming week. For instance, using their VoIP phone, they could adjust the lighting, monitor setup, and transfer their business phone number to a particular desk space – simply by using the VoIP softphone client on their smartphone or tablet.
2. Interoperability and Integration with Apps
A driving force for this trend is today’s multi-tasking workforce that strives to simultaneously complete as many tasks as possible, using the smallest number of tools. (Toolbox) As a result, we will continue to see more integration with cloud-based platforms and products using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These APIs will be used to connect to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools and Contact Center & Help Desk programs.
VoIP will continue to integrate with marketing and social media tools shared calendars, and will be used for enterprise device management and various monitoring purposes. This trend towards cloud-based VoIP applications, workforce apps and services integration should help to meet the productivity goals today’s employees and managers are striving to achieve.
3. Security Concerns
According to Forbes, security is one of the top three enterprise concerns for 2017. With the uptick in security breaches in the last few years, clients and enterprise VoIP service providers alike will need to make sure that any security gaps are addressed fully. To prevent attacks on VoIP, companies should implement comprehensive security solutions like MaxxSecure from West. MaxxSecure is a fully-managed security solution that protects against a wide variety of threats. This type of solution, which includes a managed firewall, spam filtering, virus and spyware protection, web content monitoring and filtering, and integrated Virtual Private Networking (VPN), is one important way to help ensure that your company is not one of the many that will need to worry about data breaches in 2017.
4. The Coming of 5G Technology
Companies continually strive for an increase in productivity. And with the rise in mobility usage in businesses everywhere, 5G internet speeds will help productivity across organizations to surge by 2020. It is estimated that the 5th generation of wireless network standards will be around 10 times faster than current 4G speeds, as the FCC approved opening nearly 11GHz of high-frequency bandwidth for mobile, flexible and fixed-use wireless broadband. (Fortune) This vast increase in speed will make VoIP call quality better, with less jitter, packet loss and fewer disconnects. We should also see a greater number of mobile VoIP applications enter the marketplace as these speeds - upload speeds of around 10GBps – will make apps more stable and therefore usable. Also, Unified Communications will improve, especially in the areas of VOIP video and web conferencing as 4k and 8k video become possible. With increased speed, video data will send more easily, creating a high quality viewing experience with fewer issues.
5. VoIP Mobility
VoIP mobility is an amalgamation of other current VoIP trends. With over 1 billion VoIP users (Toolbox) across the globe by the end of 2017, concerns over network strain and accommodating the masses become more important to the industry. Companies using hosted services will need to partner with VoIP service providers that have the infrastructure to accommodate this strain. 5G speeds will encourage the trend towards mobile VoIP use as well, due to the increase in the number of VoIP-based apps being created. Finally, the integration of these apps with other productivity apps will increase the efficiency of the tasks being carried out by workers.
No matter the trend, it is clear that enterprise VoIP usage is not just growing but thriving. As it is incorporated into these trends and more, it has become a basic building block for voice services in years to come. Contact us today to see how we can deploy the power of VoIP into your organization.
5 Enterprise VoIP Trends to Watch in 2016
Friday, November 13, 2015 - 15:30
As VoIP implementations continue to grow in flexibility, customization, and integration, so does their relevance in the marketplace. As we look to the coming year, the emergence of several trends related to VoIP are becoming more apparent; together they reveal the direction VOIP is heading. While VoIP is growing and expanding in myriad ways, we look at 5 significant trendssurrounding enterprise VoIP.
1. Hosted VoIP Cloud PBXs
Hosted enterprise VoIP solutions continue to be on the rise due to the lower costs, increased flexibility, and overall scalability of these systems. With cloud-based PBX systems, companies receive the full functionality of an on-premises PBX, but oftentimes gain more control over advanced call management and are able to add a larger number of state-of-the-art Unified Communications (UC) features. Faster broadband speeds and the reduced cost of IP trunks also make it appealing for companies to replace their legacy voice services equipment with a hosted system that can be customized to fit almost any requirement.
2. Hosted VoIP Contact Centers to Run your Business
Current research (like that listed in Table 2 below) clearly shows that using a hosted VoIP contact center can be advantageous to your enterprise. In fact, this research shows that cloud-based contact centers enjoy 27% lower annual costs associated with customer turnover, compared to their peers. The research from Aberdeen Group also shows that cloud-based contact centers are far more likely to implement and monitor crucial processes that drive improved performance, in relation to their peers. Many companies have found that an improved customer experience is the hidden ROI associated with the scalability benefits that cloud-based contact centers can provide organizations.
In addition to all of the benefits that can be gained externally for enterprises that utilize hosted contact centers, businesses are also realizing the many advantages that can appear internally as well. Whether it be the more reliable, scalable, and routable calling and services, or the mobile access and reduced calling rates, internal employees are clearly benefiting from hosted VoIP contact centers too.
Moreover, there is a growing trend for managers within these enterprises to obtain workforce software that can assist with employee organization, improved customer experience, and help with effective resource allocation. With the right hosted contact center solution in place, management is able to gather useful analytics that focus on quality assurance, performance management, and more, using call recording, automated call distribution, and coordinated scheduling. Through this hosted solution, managers can gain data and insight that helps to properly match an agent’s skills to the correct internal position that will be most beneficial in meeting company goals.
3. More Integration with Cloud-based VoIP products
A driving force for this trend is today’s multi-tasking workforce that strives to simultaneously complete as many tasks as possible, using the smallest number of tools. As a result, we will continue to see more integration with cloud-based platforms and products using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), for integration with Accounting Systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, and Contact Center and Help Desk programs.
Furthermore, VoIP will continue to be integrated with marketing and social media tools, shared calendars, and for enterprise device management and various monitoring purposes. This trend towards cloud-based VoIP applications and workforce apps and services integration should help to meet the productivity goals today’s employees and managers are striving for.
4. Further Convergence of VoIP and UC via Collaboration Solutions
VoIP and UC continue to merge as collaboration apps and services like live-chat and messaging look to overtake email use in 2016 – especially for in-house communications. Moreover, there will be a continuing need for communications and workflow tools across departments as well as the entire business. Also, we will continue to see a trend towards merging team video-conferencing alongside live chat, in an effort to reduce the length and amount of back and forth email chains – ultimately enabling greater productivity.
And a standard pushing toward this collaboration trend is the Web Real-Time Communication (Web RTC) standard, an open-source technology and API standard created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This standard enables voice and video calling to take place directly from browsers using embedded coding. WebRTC allows web-based applications to engage in direct voice calls, video chat, and data sharing without requiring any desktop or mobile apps, add-ons, or browser plug-ins. Some companies like Microsoft are enabling back-end Skype interoperability with WebRTC, as popular browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge have announced support for WebRTC.
5. The Internet of Things (IoT)
Another important trend in enterprise VoIP is the way it impacts the Internet of Things (IoT). It ispredicted that by 2020 almost 26 billion objects or “things” will be connected/reside in the Internet. The IoT, for those unfamiliar, is the concept of connecting anything with an on/off switch to the internet and to each other. This could mean connecting your cell phone to your coffee maker, light switches, washing machine, wearables and so on. In the near future, VoIP will become integral to the Smart Home through the use of VoIP-enabled phones that can control home security, lighting, and smart thermostats.
These VoIP phones would also be key devices for the Smart Office. For the many mobile employees that roam between the main office, home, and client sites or satellite offices, these enterprise VoIP phones could be used to reserve desk space and customize the hoteling environment they plan to work from in an upcoming week. For instance, using their VoIP phone, they could adjust the lighting, monitor setup, and transfer their business phone number to a particular desk space – simply by using the VoIP softphone client on their smartphone or tablet.
No matter the trend, it is clear that enterprise VoIP usage is not just growing but thriving and is developing into a basic building block for voice services in years to come.