At Evolve IP, we work with thousands of customers on cloud services and we’re seeing a continual, growing demand for hosted Voice over IP (VoIP) service. Even though the technology has been around for well over a decade it is just now reaching critical mass and moving swiftly into mid-market and enterprise businesses.
There are several related technologies that are going to contribute to the continued adoption of hosted IP phone systems as business communications move forward.
Collaboration / Unified Communications
Most prominently, we see business communications and collaboration tools, aka unified communications (UC), as an integrated component of VoIP being an obvious driver.
The VoIP space is steadily replacing the legacy phone system. Customers are taking advantage of the many benefits, such as application integration and mobility enablement. There’s a big drive towards mobile communications and BYOD, and a lot of what we’re already working on here at Evolve IP are the wheels in motion.
I can’t see voice as a medium ever going away, but it will continue to be built upon via advanced communications and collaboration tools. We have various ways of communicating today, which – once integrated – becomes the advanced communications and collaboration / UC experience.
But, no organization should implement a UC solution without good reason; it has to be implemented strategically, in order to make the company more productive. I can email you; I can call you; I can send you an IM; I can video chat with you. There are so many different ways that we can communicate, but it needs to all make sense for your environment and the way in which your organization works because it needs to make you more efficient, rather than be overwhelming.
Now, add to that something called WebRTC, which is something Google introduced about five years ago that enables a browser to be your point of communication. I wasn’t a believer at first, but I do now see value in WebRTC, and I think we’re going to see some shift there. I don’t think that it displaces phones, but rather that it enhances the experience and this will continue to converge over the next five years or so. For example, wouldn’t it really enhance your online shopping experience if you contact a representative via their webpage, have a video chat, and they can surmise based on your browsing that you are interested in a particular product and whether they have it in your size?
Today were still trying to bolt things together and make it work. In the next 12-18 months, it will all really work well; in three to five years it will be a common part of the user experience.
We’re also definitely seeing trends towards video. Especially as more of the millennial generation enters the workforce, it’s been a common method for millennials using apps like Facetime and Skype to communicate. But, video has found mass market adoption in the business sector as well in recent years. In fact, an Evolve IP survey revealed that 76 percent of businesses are using some form of video communication.
Of course, there’s a lot of big conference room video. But, desk-to-desk video is also taking off through such applications as Evolve IP’s UC One and desktop video phones – but even that it’s only within the enterprise or, in our case, within the Evolve IP network. You can’t do video through the PSTN yet, and I’d like to see a point where you can, though that’s not an easy thing to achieve and the old telecoms are not ready for that yet.
I look forward to seeing what will pop up next in our space and to meeting the continual challenge of always staying ahead of the technology curve.
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