Enterprises have always had a variety of tools at their…
VoIP Business Applications
Once upon a time, to say that VoIP has changed the way businesses function might easily be mistaken for the often over enthusiastic praise showered on any new technology. However that praise is not actually misplaced. In fact it is more accurate to say that VoIP has revolutionized enterprise voice communication in the last few years.
Organizations have already reaped many benefits from the upgrade to VoIP from the humble landline. The advantages provided by VoIP systems include:
- Significantly reduced monthly expenses for voice calls
- Very little or no upfront investment required every few years for the phone system
- The ability to scale up or down depending on demand and resource use
- The benefit of integrating data from different systems together – CRM, websites, voice etc.
- Improved efficiency due to less maintenance and fewer problems
- Productivity improvements for employees who are no longer constrained by time or location
- Eliminating the need for maintenance of different networks that exist effectively for the same purpose
Nevertheless, some analysts and experts view this as only the beginning. When organizations initially adopted VoIP, the new system was viewed as a straight up replacement for landlines. Not many businesses to the time to explore all the features available in their newly acquired software.
But slowly companies came to realize the enormous potential of VoIP phone services – both for hosted and on premise deployments. In 2016, it is not uncommon for organizations to have VoIP phone systems that are tightly integrated with a variety of other enterprise software and applications.
VoIP As a Platform for Business Applications
Most people are aware of the basic differences between the PSTN and VoIP. The latter essentially allows voice data to be transmitted on data networks and the public Internet just like other forms of media – text, video, pictures etc. Practically everyone understands that this is the reason for the inexpensive prices charged by VoIP vendors that results in significant cost reductions for businesses.
However this packetization of voice data is significant for other reasons as well. What makes VoIP so useful is that it allows voice data to be manipulated in a variety of different ways that was simply not possible with analog technology. Think of all the things we can accomplish with text or images today – they can be copied, stored, searched, archived and combined with data from multiple sources to create new applications and generate more value than the original, untouched documents or files.
VoIP allows us to do the same with voice calling. Since VoIP is based on the same IP standards that are commonly used by most Internet-based services and systems, phone systems can interact and integrate with enterprise applications like CRM software, database systems, websites, call center software etc.
Customizable Business Applications Through VoIP
Work from Home or Telecommuting
Consider how email is generally used by individuals and businesses. It is not connected to a particular device or location, rather it is connected to an individual user. So you are able to access your email from a smartphone, a laptop or a desktop at work. It doesn’t matter if you are in a different time zone or country. VoIP accomplishes the same for phone calls.
This is perhaps the best known or widely used business application of VoIP. Organizations can utilize the portability of VoIP endpoints to allow employees to work from their home, client sites or even while on the road. An individual can simply use a softphone to make and receive calls using their office number from any location and the client never has to know that he/she isn’t at their desk at the moment.
Business Continuity and Resiliency
A prime concern of organizations is how to recover from and resume working after a disaster or emergency. Traditionally, moving employees to a new location often meant considerable rewiring or reprogramming of the phone system. With VoIP, organizations can establish backup locations wherever they wish. These sites can be brought online within a few minutes allowing business to continue work as usual even when something has gone wrong. Suppose an enterprise using hosted VoIP services suffers from a fire. Employees can simply be shifted to an alternate office space and continue working or even be sent home to resume work from there, thanks to VoIP.
Customer Developed Intelligent Applications
Although a great many VoIP features are introduced by developers and vendors, customers are also contributing to innovation in the ecosystem. Some businesses are linking their phone systems to various enterprise IT systems in order to enhance customer service, supply chain management or team coordination.
For instance, an organization may implement a business app that automatically triggers a conference call to relevant personnel in the event of a disruption in the supply chain. These users can be contacted through whichever device they are nearest to, thus avoiding the delays associated with regular landlines.
A resort can integrate the phone system with client databases so that high value or high priority calls are automatically routed to senior executives who have the authority to make decisions, effectively bypassing front-line employees. Similarly a hospital can deploy an intelligent app that delivers customized alerts to only specific nurses and doctors if a particular patient needs medical assistance instead of broadcasting a general alert.
In fact, many vendors are taking the knowledge gained from specific implementations to develop solutions that can be sold to other clients. Hence innovation in VoIP is being driven by customers to a large extent so that boundaries of what can be accomplished are being continuously pushed and expanded.
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