The Age-old Debate Becoming More Real: Is The Old Phone System Dead?
The enterprise communications market has witnessed significant transformations during the past several years, largely due to the proliferation of business VoIP solutions, mobile devices and cloud services – all of which promise to improve the overall experience associated with collaboration. Until recently, companies were generally pleased – or at least content – with conventional phone systems, as the platforms allowed employees to interact with colleagues and customers without too many problems.
Currently, old phone systems just don't seem to cut it. People are now more mobile-oriented than ever and continue to incorporate smartphones, tablets and other advanced endpoints into everyday activities. If enterprises are still utilizing antiquated land lines, they may find themselves losing customers who are finding it annoying to only speak with contact center representatives through voice channels. At the same time, employees demand the ability to leverage sophisticated telecommunications services that meet their evolving needs, which may be pushing old phone systems out of the workplace.
A recent report by The San Diego Union Tribune highlighted a common discussion in the IT department: Should organizations abandon their use of land-line phone services for more sophisticated offerings or continue on their current trajectory? Many experts often say that the ongoing development of mobile devices will inevitably cause companies to either adapt or whither away in the shadows of innovation. Others, however, believe there are a lot of considerations that executives must think about before simply embracing a new communications platform.
Out With The Old
The fact of the matter is that even large telecommunications providers are beginning to abandon antiquated phone systems, as the sheer maintenance of land lines is just not feasible anymore. The San Diego Union Tribune reported on this occurrence, noting that the Federal Communications Commission has even begun to recognize the impracticality of land-line phone services. The truth is that telecom technicians are no longer being trained on restoring land lines, even though those technologies are falling apart.
"Our current infrastructure has served us well for almost a century, but it no longer meets the needs of America's consumers. The transition to broadband and IP (Internet Protocol) services that has already begun is driven by consumers who are moving to the Internet and choosing to connect in ways not imagined just a decade ago," said Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs at AT&T, according to the news source.
Business VoIP services are beginning to gain momentum in the dawn of this new age. This is largely because VoIP technologies are much more functional and cost-effective than outdated land-line phone systems.
The VoIP Drive
During the past several years, companies of all sizes have begun to replace old phone systems with VoIP services that enable employees to be more productive from virtually any location. A separate Infonetics report revealed that telecom vendors are seeing increased business VoIP growth as companies seek out technologies that can support multiple worksites without introducing connectivity or performance issues. In fact, the global VoIP market, which included both residential and enterprise offerings, reached $63 billion in 2012 and is forecast to exceed $82 billion in 2017.
"The market for VoIP services has moved well beyond the early adopter stage to mainstream status in many developed countries. New geographic regions are opening up and SIP trunking and hosted UC continue to heat things up, fueling growth," said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics Research.
While VoIP appears to be gaining traction in the business world, decision-makers need to take their time assessing whether abandoning conventional telecom platforms is a good idea. For the most part, the phone system features that can be associated with VoIP are highly beneficial for employees, as they can streamline operations, improve customer service support capabilities and reduce costs for the company as a whole. At the same time, enterprises must be sure they incorporate VoIP into their disaster recovery programs, as Internet outages can disrupt the level of service available through VoIP.
VoIP can also be highly advantageous for organizations looking to support a remote workforce. Because VoIP and cloud VoIP systems are much more flexible than conventional land-line offerings, individuals can access communication tools from virtually anywhere through a variety of devices. This improves collaboration capabilities in and outside of the workplace and gives decision-makers new opportunities to transform how critical operations are completed.
In the coming years, the business communications landscape will continue to evolve over time, especially as mobile, cloud and IP technologies mature and develop new capabilities. Enterprise executives need to consider their current communication strategies and where they see themselves going in the next several years. If decision-makers want to remain competitive, they may need to consider transforming the way they collaborate.