VOIP overhauls business communication
Voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) has brought about a complete overhaul of the way businesses communicate, says Rob Lith, director of Connection Telecom.
The unprecedented efficiency and flexibility of modern VOIP systems offer a "constantly expanding universe of communication functions", says Lith, with each function fulfilling niche requirements that other modes of communication cannot fulfil.
For instance, video conferencing, a niche medium, has become easily affordable for even the most tight-budgeted of businesses, he notes. "With hosted IP-based video, any business or contractor can now rent virtual video conferencing rooms at very affordable monthly rates, allowing them to rope in specialists at short notice, rather than schedule meetings with multiple people inside and outside the organisation at much cost, delay and inconvenience."
Instant messaging (IM) is another important change in the way business is conducted, he adds. "IM proves that, while e-mail and voice conversations need never die, they aren't suited to scenarios where immediacy is vital and a degree of non-disruptive intrusion is palatable."
IM is also taking on a new and important role in customer interaction. "Given a choice, many people would find chat a better option than a voice conversation, especially when busy, or on weekends and public holidays, when it seems an enormous effort to pick up the phone and talk to a support engineer. Chat does not require diverting your attention from your PC, where, let's face it, it is probably focused. And unlike a voice conversation, it is easier to terminate a chat exchange with the minimum of protocol observed."
The availability of multiple communication media over IP is on the rise, partly due to the sudden expansion of mobile devices, says Lith. "The mobile phone as a key enabler of the corporate network is a long-standing vision that has become ever more manifest, thanks to the acceptance of IP as the bedrock of communications technology. The computing power of smartphone technology further demands that mobility be given its rightful place in the enterprise, and myriad applications hasten the completion of that journey."
The ubiquity of data connections is another boost, he adds. "Other signs include the maturation of WiFi as a seamless bearer technology acting in concert with cellular GSM and 3G."
Lith sees the growing uptake of VOIP having potential to cause disruption in the industry. "Soon, industry alliances will coalesce between mobile and converged telcos, offering bespoke FMC benefits that do justice to this confluence of factors - for example, opening up least-cost routing and zero-rated options not available before, as well as entire new functional communications vistas."