VOIP finds its niche in the digital world
Using data to transmit voice is not a new concept, but with rapid digitisation, VOIP users are finally realising its true value.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) has had a tumultuous time since it was first proclaimed to be a world-changing technology some two decades ago. It has been through the various phases that any new technology goes through, from the initial inflated expectations; through the trough of disillusionment; and on to the plateau of productivity, and has come out the other side better and more effective for it.
Jeanette Strydom, sales and marketing executive at Enterprise Unify, says that in her opinion, the initial trouble with VOIP adoption was mostly to do with the copper lines that were the main source of transmission at that point.
“The cost of increasing the size of your pipe with copper was very expensive," she says. "For example, it was more costly with copper to increase from a 256 kilobit (Kb) line to a 1 megabit (Mb) line than it now is to go from a 2Mb fibre line to a 10Mb one. However, now that fibre has taken off, thanks to the open access networks being implemented, VOIP uptake has also accelerated. This is because fibre lines have made the concept much more accessible.
“Now that transmission quality is no longer a major issue, people are coming around to the many benefits that VOIP offers. For one thing, since it is essentially a software application, it eliminates the need to purchase all the old telecommunications hardware that was necessary in the past. Now, as long as you have the relevant app on your phone, you can, if needs be, use whatever form of connection is available.”
Strydom points out that another distinct advantage is that with the rise of 'bring your own device' (BYOD), it only makes sense for businesses to better accommodate employees using their personal phones. VOIP, of course, benefits them as well, as cellphone costs are significantly reduced by using VOIP as the method of calling.
“From a purely business point of view, VOIP makes everything faster and it allows employees to be available 24/7, thus enabling them to offer better customer interaction and improved client service. Moreover, it allows the mobile device to be connected to the office and means the user can operate from anywhere around the globe that has connectivity, obviously, using their cellphone as an extension.
“And, of course, it offers huge cost savings if you have to call other branches, even those based in other geographies, since VOIP makes these calls virtually free. The same could be done with conference calls, thereby reducing not only the call costs, but saving additional money on the travel,” says Strydom.
Add onto these cost savings the fact that by eliminating travel you are also being both environmentally friendly and increasing productivity, and the use case for VOIP just continues to grow. In addition, since it is software-based, it is quite simple to upgrade. Unlike hardware, which must undergo a rip-and-replace approach at the end of its lifecycle, there is no limitation of this nature on software.
“Ultimately, VOIP is perfectly suited to a digital world, where non-traditional players are changing the markets,” says Strydom. “Just like Uber is a transport company with no vehicles, VOIP can enable your business to be a major player without actually needing a physical office. With a VOIP solution based in the cloud, it would be a simple matter to have all your employees working from home.
“Now that VOIP has begun proving its worth, and as data becomes even more cost-effective and easy to use, I believe the broader market will begin to realise its full potential through the next obvious step, which is to use it for real-time collaboration via voice and video, as well as for the sharing of presentations, spreadsheets and documents during the course of this. In other words, I expect VOIP to soon be a key driver of truly interactive collaboration,” concludes Strydom.