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VoIP Trends for 2016
The enterprise VoIP space is exhibiting all the signs of a young industry – explosive growth, proliferation of vendors and a multitude of choices for customers.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone that the VoIP market as a whole will expand considerably in 2016 and over the next few years. The industry is changing and innovating with each passing year so that it becomes hard to predict what the future will bring.
For organizations that are looking to invest in and adopt VoIP systems, it is important to know the key VoIP trends for 2016 and beyond.
The shift towards hosted VoIP/cloud PBX
Due to the lower costs and less maintenance afforded by hosted VoIP services, more and more organizations are leaning towards this type of deployment. It is a good choice for businesses that are making the transition from traditional business lines to IP enabled technology. Small and medium businesses have always favored externally managed and delivered cloud services.
But even larger organizations will start using cloud PBX systems as vendors scale up their own infrastructure to match growing demand. Combined with the increasing level of customization available from hosted services, cloud PBX makes much more sense for everyone across the board.
This doesn’t mean on premise deployment of SIP trunks will go away anytime soon but the hosted VoIP model looks set to grow much more rapidly. As Internet speeds in the US catch up to international standards and the various costs associated with VoIP hardware continue to decrease, this trend will become more prominent.
Cloud Integration with Even more Enterprise Software
One of the biggest reasons for VoIP overtaking the PSTN is that it is built on IP technology rather than circuit switching. It means that the former is more flexible and better suited to modern business workflows. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to integrating with other enterprise software such as ERP systems.
Many organizations are moving towards SaaS services for various departments and requirements – whether it is accounting, CRM, contact center or helpdesk management. With the increasing reliance on cloud, it is no wonder that service providers are integrating their VoIP systems with other cloud-based application services. Since these services and their phone system are delivered over data networks, there is no reason that they should continue to work in silos as was the case with analog phone lines. As the VoIP industry continues to mature, these integrations will quickly become a necessity.
VoIP and Internet of Things (IoT)
The so-called Internet of Things has been growing considerably over the last couple of years. What is the Internet of Things? We are all used to computers connecting to the Internet but now, more devices around us have the ability to send and receive data such as smart phones, tablets, televisions, cable boxes etc.
The Internet of Things is a concept that proposes more physical devices which have Internet connectivity and the ability to exchange data with other networked objects. These devices could be lighting systems, refrigerators, fax machines and many common appliances. We are looking at a future where the smart office is a reality – employees may be able to customize their workspaces, desk phones, reserve cubicles and adjust the lights right from their VoIP phone.
This integration between VoIP and the Internet of Things will only accelerate as telecommuting, remote working and shared office spaces become the norm. For workers that continually switch between working from home, on client sites and at the office, such flexibility will be invaluable.
VoIP and Unified Communication
Unified Communication may be a marketing term but the ability to consolidate and integrate various forms of communication into a single system with a common interface is crucial for businesses today. UC systems bring together various channels such as video, audio, instant messaging and others. VoIP is often used as the base on which further applications and protocols added to enable unified communication.
Even though there are quite a few enterprises that have not yet to VoIP, there are also many organizations that have been using it for years. Some of them have moved on to implementing UC and this trend will gain momentum in 2016. Acquisition and consolidation among VoIP providers will also drive them to move up the value chain and provide more tightly integrated VoIP – UC systems to clients.
This integration is being helped by WebRTC which allows audio and video calls to be made from browsers, without the need to download additional plug-ins or software. Most modern Internet browsers support WebRTC or will do so in the near future. This means IP calls can be made from devices even if they don’t have a native VoIP application installed or if no software is available for the platform.
Whether a particular business allows employees to bring their own device or issues them with specific work phones, enterprise mobility is here to stay. In today’s business world, employees need the ability to work and stay in touch with colleagues or customers regardless of their current location. Smart phones, tablets, laptops and even wearable devices are becoming integral to the workforce.
Many phones today are more powerful than the computers of a decade ago. As smartphones and tablets become powerful enough to become standalone computing devices, they will soon be the centerpiece of an organization’s application ecosystem. Companies have focused heavily on desk phones when switching over to VoIP but mobile integration will become paramount in 2016. Rather than being seen as an alternative, mobile VoIP applications will become the mainstay for employees.
These will be the main trends for the VoIP industry in 2016 but there will likely be further innovations down the line. Advances in videoconferencing technology will make it easier for organizations to forgo meetings entirely. The growth of hosted VoIP contact centers over internal infrastructure will continue. In addition, the consolidation of VoIP service providers will also change the landscape of enterprise VoIP. There is still a long way to go before VoIP becomes as ubiquitous as the humble landline but it is well on the way there.