VoIP was a hot topic in 2014, with technology innovation enabling people to do some really exciting things with their communications. The functionality that is now being built into VoIP communications tools is making them far more essential than a simple phone system; for businesses using it correctly, VoIP technology is becoming the very real backbone of their entire communications network.
It’s becoming so important to business because it’s no longer a simple replacement for the traditional phone line. VoIP is being turned to ever more complex applications as innovations are brought to market, and developers find new ways to integrate VoIP into broader solution sets. Below are some of the hottest developments that we saw in 2014.
For a long time mobile “VoIP” meant Skype, Facetime, or something similar. It was a simple and functional way of communicating with someone on the go, but it was also not secure, and because those apps were proprietary, it was a nightmare (if not impossible) to link into an organisation’s broader communications platforms.
That has really started to change in 2014, however, with apps appearing on virtualised network systems allowing organisations to set their employees up with enterprise-grade VoIP while on the go. In 2012 Juniper Research found that the number of over the top (OTT) mobile VoIP users would reach 1 billion by 2017. Clearly, the demand is there and this has been one of the most explosive areas for growth in VoIP over the past year.
Unified Communications (or UC) is the integration of real-time communication services that includes instant messaging, presence information (so people can see if you’re available at a point in time), telephony and other communication tools. VoIP has played a major role in the development of the UC industry.
Often seen hand-in-hand with VoIP, 2014 also saw some of the most dramatic developments in the Unified Communications space to date. Another sharply growing market (predicted to hit $7.2 billion by 2018), the UC space is currently being driven by enhanced video technology and collaboration solutions being built into it, but telephony remains the core driver of the technology.
Without a doubt, the development through 2014 that has been most important in proving the value of investing in a VoIP solution has been the message delivery options. If a worker is not at his/ her desk and misses a call, it can be immediately shifted to their mobile phone. If they let it go through to voicemail, it can be delivered via email as well as in the voice bank.
This is important because it shows that the VoIP space is moving away from a focus on devices. No longer does it matter what hardware you are using to answer the phone, it is the underlying software that is important, and that software is being developed to forward communications and messages to the individual’s preferred platform, whereas previously they would be stuck with using specific technology to communicate in specific ways.
The trend of bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, that most organisations are grappling with at the moment is also having an impact on their VoIP communications. It’s an issue for organisations because it can lead to security breaches if handled badly, and the nature of communications (being forward-facing and a direct link between two people) means that it’s an easy target for hackers and others with malicious intent.
On the other hand, it’s impossible to deny BYOD to a modern office, when the ubiquity of mobile devices means that employees will use them regardless of policy. Thankfully 2014 also saw the introduction of robust enterprise apps for BYOD devices, allowing IT teams better capabilities for handling the challenges of BYOD, while still enabling full VoIP functionality.