Hosted VoIP, Hosted telephony, Cloud Voice, Virtual Phone Systems, IP PBX – whatever you want to call it, the trend of hosting your business telephone system in the cloud has taken off and is gathering momentum. In 2018, VoIP has become standard infrastructure for business communications systems, and it’s easy to see why. With benefits like cost-savings, efficiency, flexibility and scalability, these enterprise deployments will only continue to grow.
What is Hosted Telephony?
Hosted Telephony or VoIP is a telephone system that lives in a data centre hosted within the Cloud. Calls are made as usual via IP handsets and delivered over a broadband connection to the ISP network- from there they get routed out as necessary. From a business perspective however, the main selling point is that there is no PBX (private branch exchange) hardware to maintain on site which is great for businesses looking to adopt a new telephone system and who don’t have existing PBX hardware in place.
What are the benefits for your business?
- Disaster Recovery
One of the major advantages of a cloud based system is that it helps with your Disaster recovery and Business Continuity planning. As your phone system is off-site, VoIP makes it simpler to implement a robust plan which means calls can be re-routed so that operations can continue from another site with little downtime.
VoIP systems integrate both mobile and fixed line services, and can be scaled up and down extremely easily depending on your business strategies and requirements at that time. New offices can be connected almost instantaneously to the central system, meaning that growth is not hindered by delayed roll-out dates for new infrastructure.
- Call management
Most VoIP solutions allow you to manage and configure your telephone system via a simple web interface, meaning it’s accessible at any time and from any location. There are a wide range of features available to allow you to manage your calls, but also the option to access detailed, performance information via real-time statistics.
- Cost control
With hosted solutions, the capital outlay is removed, meaning that you pay an agreed monthly cost which falls within your business budget. Additionally, maintenance costs on hardware are significantly reduced.
- Enterprise mobility
Cloud Telephony is an effective enabler of Enterprise Mobility– the practice of supporting your workers no matter where they are, or what device they are working from, by giving them that ‘in-office’ experience regardless of location.
- A secure system
As long as you have a device connected to the network, it is immediately at a potential risk for attack. Security is no longer an aspect only the large Enterprise with sensitive data needs to worry about – every company from small to mid-size to massive needs to concern themselves with solid security practices. This is why most solutions have layers of encryption to avoid any issues and providers of hosted solutions should offer reassurance in the form of anti-fraud measures, call encryption and voice data encryption, traffic prioritisation, traffic scanning, diligent patching, and gateway security.
Some VoIP solutions also allow you to place call limits on outbound calls being made. This means that a business can keep an eye on its outbound activity, and if 50% of the threshold has been reached, alert their provider, who can then closely monitor the calls for any unusual activity. Automatic call barring can be put in place when thresholds are breached.
2018 and beyond
As this growth continues, how can your enterprise use the power of VoIP to expand and improve your business operations?
- Expanded mobile integration
Over the past year, the popularity and diversity of mobile app usage has expanded significantly with the introduction of 5G technology and embedded or integrated apps across mobile devices. Going forward, smartphones will only be able to truly replace traditional phone systems when they can replicate all of their functionality. Trends to look for will include enhanced team collaboration, content sharing and additional meeting support.
Another enterprise VoIP trend related is something Apple refers to as “Continuity.” Continuity is defined as the ability to start a task on one device and have it carry over seamlessly across other devices. For instance, a task can start with the ability to take a call on a desk handset and then transfer it over to a mobile device, while keeping the call live. It is now being expanded to include real-time continuity for other implementations such as chat, conferencing, video and content sharing.
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI can also be used in a myriad of ways to enhance enterprise VoIP systems such as being used to seek out and automatically repair quality of service (QoS) issues caused by network issues before human involvement is required.
Another possibility is that AI will also be developed to analyse speech patterns in voice conversations and emails in real-time to provide analysis on business trends and sales data, resulting in improved marketing efforts and better customer service. This kind of AI technology is currently in the prototype stage as telecom developers continue to test its implementation possibilities.