It’s not often that a technology gets a second wind so why is a solution that first entered Gartner’s Hype Cycle back in 2006 suddenly taking off again as if it were the next big thing? Jamie Coombs, Group Professional Services Manager at Altodigital discusses the reasons behind an increase in VoIP sales and why it is becoming a 'no-brainer' for growing businesses.
According to Gartner, although it first emerged in the mid-1990s, Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) only entered its ‘early majority’ phase of adoption in 2015. Yet, last year it was predicted that the global VoIP market would grow by a compound annual growth rate of over 9.7 per cent until 2023. Away from the global stats and assessments, Altodigital itself is seeing a real upswing in demand, selling on average around 30 per cent more seats per month than last year, and this figure looks set to rise.
Inevitably, the global economic downturn played its part in delaying widespread adoption but why the slow burn followed by resurgence now? Initially, only large enterprises could afford the high-speed connections required as although VoIP does work over the more traditional copper broadband, it will struggle with more than 20 users. However, the emergence of fibre-optic, super-fast broadband, now almost universally available, has brought more favourable rates.
Researchers at IDC have now estimated that a VoIP system can deliver a 30 per cent reduction in telephone related expense - Altodigital has witnessed its SMB customers cutting their phone bills by at least 25 per cent following their migration to VoIP.
Call costs over VoIP networks are much cheaper than traditional calls, largely because of the more recent reduction in data carriage costs, but also because hosted providers can often offer a bundle deal, inclusive of a large volume of calls. IP to IP calls can often be made free of charge and as VoIP adoption stops the need for traditional telephone infrastructure, there are no long-term hardware lease or maintenance charges.
Another major driver is the maturity of remote working. Smaller businesses have much to gain from the flexibility of mobile working by being able to work anywhere in the same way as they would if they were in an office. However, very small businesses often suffer from an image problem if key employees are unavailable to prospective customers when out of the office. Yet as VoIP enables them to use their landline number and diverts calls to a mobile phone, it means they can maintain the professional image needed if they wish to compete with larger organisations.
Alongside the flexibility comes the functionality that opens up many new cost-saving opportunities. Video conferencing via Skype and other features such as call recording can now be included within the VoIP bundle. Another feature highly popular with SMEs is VoIP’s reporting capability, which provides data they may have only dreamed of having when using a conventional system, enabling more accurate budgeting and planning.
Even in our business lives we have become frustrated by restrictive and expensive long-term contracts once offered by traditional telecoms providers. However, such are the savings of VoIP that some providers will buy their customers out of existing leases and offer competitive bundles to save on costs. Suddenly, it’s hard to imagine why any business wouldn’t want to migrate to VoIP.