More organizations are switching over to VoIP, and for good reason. There's cost-savings potential, flexibility, scalability, multi-functional phone capabilities and a host of other bells and whistles with the technology. VoIP providers are getting better by the day at addressing interoperability issues so that more devices can be turned into IP phones. Meanwhile, telework and enterprise mobility trends are putting all of these boons to good use.
It almost makes you wonder: What's next for VoIP?
Integration with the Internet of Things
For those who haven't been following the world of wireless technology, the Internet of Things refers to a massive, growing network of connected devices. The premise is anything and everything can be retrofitted with Internet connectivity. This includes household appliances, cookware, wearable technology such as wrist watches and fitness bands, HVAC systems, cars, the electric grid – the list goes on and on. The research firm IDC predicted that by only 2018, there will be an estimated 28.1 billion connected devices. This is nearly four times the number of people in the world.
So where does VoIP fit into all of this? Implicit in the name, Internet telephony relies on Internet connectivity to transfer voice as data over IP. This means that anything with a microphone, a receiver, wireless connectivity and a VoIP softphone, plus the software that facilitates the data transfer, can technically become a telephone.
Imagine, for example, that you purchase a smart refrigerator. The appliance comes with a built-in graphics user interface that lets you tell it what you currently have in stock. Before you leave in the morning, maybe you want it to remind you later in the day that you need to pick up milk on the way home from work. Now, imagine that this refrigerator malfunctions. In theory, the GUI could allow you to call support from the appliance itself over the IP network.
And it's not just static home appliances that have the potential to be more heavily integrated with VoIP. Smartwatches, smart glasses, smartphones and other devices may also be in a much better position to make Internet-based voice calls in the not-too-distant future.
In 2014, more than 40 percent of wireless phone traffic, and over 90 percent of tablet traffic, took place over Wi-Fi, according to The Economist. A more recent study from Juniper Research has suggested that this number is on the rise. By 2019, 60 percent of mobile data traffic will occur over the Internet.
This increase may be attributable to a gravitation toward ubiquitous Wi-Fi. Rather than relying on cellular for devices on the go, greater availability of Wi-Fi, and someday maybe even universal availability, will mean that more voice data traffic will likely run over VoIP applications.
Unparalleled workplace mobility
Another tech trend that's gaining significant momentum is enterprise mobility. This entails the further usage of mobile devices in the workplace. Typically, this means smartphones, laptops, tablets and more recently, smartwatches. However, as new wireless devices continue to be enhanced, such as smart glasses, enterprise mobility will continue to become more inclusive. As this happens, the market potential for wireless VoIP may only increase, especially if mobile traffic continues to be offloaded onto Wi-Fi.
"VoIP will continue to be a staple for many years to come."
Of course, many of the benefits of workplace mobility are already being realized. An increasing number of employees are choosing to work from where they want on a device of their choosing. Part of what makes this possible is mobile VoIP. With bring-your-own-device trends especially, the ability to install a VoIP softphone on a home desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone is critical. This level of versatility is the reason VoIP will continue to be a staple for many years to come.
More importantly, businesses that have been dragging their feet in adopting a more mobile mentality risk putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage. The top-cited reason for mobile adoption in Enterprise Mobility Exchanges' report, The Global State of Enterprise Mobility: 2016, is improved productivity. A productive business is more likely to be a stronger competitor.
At the moment, there are plenty of affordable, scalable, mobile UC offerings that can help organizations boost productivity and prepare for the future of business communication technology. In fact, any unified communications platform worth buying should accommodate mobility.
The future of VoIP is fast approaching. Make sure you're business is ready for it.