How to choose the right VoIP solution

Selecting the right VoIP features is essential for effective UC.

Business VoIP is one of the most widely deployed unified communications solutions today. Internet telephony is slowly but surely supplanting traditional phone lines thanks to its ability to be easily deployed and quickly scaled and its general cost efficiency. Even as other forms of business communication technology such as video conferencing and instant messaging become more prevalent, VoIP's clout will remain unquestioned. The business VoIP market is growing, and by 2020 is expected to be worth approximately $136.76 billion, up from $70.9 billion in 2013, according to Transparency Market Research. 

Companies that may be among the many impending newcomers to business VoIP – or those that are interested in overhauling their current VoIP system – stand to gain a lot from looking for a solution that supplies all of the following features. 

Integration with UC systems

Technically, any communication tool used by a business falls under the umbrella of unified communications. This includes email, instant messaging and telephony. Therefore, when considering a VoIP solution, IT decision-makers should consider a solution that provides seamless integration with the gamut of business communication systems.

The use of softphones, for example, allows users to engage with other employees on the network via instant messaging, collaborate with clients over email and dial in to a conference call, all on a single pane of glass. And because contact lists can be displayed on a computer, the process of sifting through an address book is not really a process at all. Simply click on the name of the contact to make a call – it's that easy! 

With VoIP and UC integration, voice calls are a click away.With VoIP and UC integration, voice calls are a click away.

Other useful VoIP features include voicemail to email functions and call recording. With the former, an employee may receive an email with a voicemail attached, eliminating the need to pick up the handset. In the latter case, an employee can initiate call recording by clicking a button on a virtual desktop interface. 

Audio conferencing

"Voice has always been the most direct, and effective form of human communication."

Voice has always been the most direct, and effective form of human communication. Even video conferencing is useless without voice, and in cases where the signal is weak or the bandwidth is clogged, voice can continue to function.

Audio conferencing technology is one of the most important components of UC. A company should consider both the ease with which these conferences can be initiated and the number of users that can dial into a bridge at any given time when developing a UC strategy for VoIP.

Other useful features include personalized bridges – so that specific users can hop on a call without needing to generate access PINs – and conferencing integration with desk phones and softphones. 

Mobile VoIP

Mobility may just be the most important trend facing the future of UC. Much in the same way that consumer are relying on mobile devices for most of their computing needs, businesses are continually adopting the use of smartphones and tablets as go-to collaboration and communication tools.

Furthermore, businesses that have embraced mobility have experienced a 150 percent return on investment, according to the recently released VMware 2015 State of Business Mobility Report. It is not unlikely that within the next 10 years business mobility will be considered an essential component of day-to-day operations for the majority of companies out there.

As this happens, mobile VoIP will be an extremely useful communication tool. Mobile VoIP functions much the same that traditional Internet telephony does, but it incorporates the use of mobile devices. Mobile applications equip smartphones with softphone technology, which effectively turns them into wireless VoIP phones.

This creates a mobile IP phone service for employees who would prefer to work remotely some or all of the time. It also gives workers access to contacts as they travel between branches or leave town to attend industry events. Any location that offers Wi-Fi or robust cellular connectivity becomes a potential productivity zone thanks to mobile VoIP. 

VoIP is a powerful communication platform, and as mobile VoIP has shown, it is also adaptable. The features that a business chooses to incorporate into its solution will vary depending on what the intended goal is. That said, the three VoIP offerings mentioned above are worth considering when developing a UC strategy, or shopping for a new VoIP system.