Unified communications is no longer the exception when it comes to business communication and collaboration; it's the rule. To date, business VoIP remains one of the most effective components of UC. Here are four reasons why that's the case.
1) Cost efficiency
Business VoIP is much cheaper than traditional phone lines. There is far less hardware involved in deploying a VoIP solution, especially on the back end. As long as you have an Internet connection, the basic infrastructure is in place for VoIP. In fact, affordability is cited as one of the main catalysts for the growth of the VoIP market, which is expected to reach a value of around $136.76 billion by 2020, according to Transparency Market Research.
Handsets and bridges that plug directly into a desktop or laptop are fairly standard in the office, but even these aren't entirely necessary. Softphones, which are virtual interfaces on a computing device, eliminate the need to have a physical phone taking up space on a desk. Simply plug a headset into the computer with the VoIP platform installed, and voila: the computer becomes a fully functional phone.
VoIP can also be more efficient in terms of its payment model. Rather than paying per minute, Internet telephony vendors can charge on a per-user basis to have more flat fees. In addition, because voice travels over the network as data packets, long-distance calls can be made between office locations at no additional cost.
"VoIP systems are easy to install and manage, a definite boon for SMBs."
2) Easy to use and scalable
VoIP systems are easy to install and manage, a definite boon for SMBs in particular that might not have the resources for an on-premises solution, or lack a comprehensive IT department capable of overseeing the solution. In such situations, a remotely hosted PBX solution is the answer.
Small businesses get all the benefits of VoIP – voicemail, caller ID, mobile features, contact lists, etc. – with low up-front fees, and almost zero maintenance. As the business expands or contracts, it can easily add a new user by simply upping the service rate. Alternatively, large enterprises can purchase the hardware from the VoIP vendor and task their IT department with setting up the solution. This is a little more hands-on, but is still far easier than setting up traditional phone lines.
3) Seamless UC integration
VoIP systems have a wide variety of features depending on the vendor and the plan. One of these features is VoIP's ability to seamlessly integrate with a company's unified communications platform.
Unified messaging, call recording features and voicemail can all appear on a softphone in digital format, and simultaneously be configured with a physical VoIP phone. While talking on the physical handset, you can start recording a call by clicking an icon in the UC software interface installed on the computer. Alternatively, you can initiate a three-way conference call through the computer display without touching the physical phone. The idea is to make communication between portals seamless and organized.
Mobility may soon be among the most important elements of any VoIP system. Mobile UC is becoming an essential part of business communications, as more employees subscribe to a mobile-first ideology.
VoIP providers have adapted to meet this demand by creating apps for mobile devices that allow users to turn laptops, tablets and smartphones into wireless VoIP phones. This means that the VoIP system is accessible from any location with Wi-Fi – be it the home office, the conferencing room down the hall from a cubicle, an airplane terminal or the cafe downtown.
And while video conferencing as part of a UC solution can function similarly, audio conferencing is less of a bandwidth hog, and can work when the wireless signal may be weak. Voicemail to email features even make it possible for a voice message to be sent directly to a subscriber's email address and played back as a sound file. So even if there is no Wi-Fi available, a user can still use cellular to check his or her voicemail via a work email account.
VoIP isn't going anywhere, anytime soon – unless of course mobility is a priority for your business, in which case it's going everywhere and anywhere you need it to be.