The future of telephony is more difficult to predict than that of other business technologies. For one, telephony services are already so advanced that analysts have a difficult time foreseeing what other calling features and communications applications users will need, even in the near future. For another, the inevitable expansion of telephony services into new markets in developing countries is fraught with complex economic and political issues that revolve around government power and personal access. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that the next two years will see significant changes in the way telephony is delivered to users within an organization as well as to the organization itself. Also, the rise of mobility will continue to blur the line between personal and professional communications.
Right now, there are two clear trends that will continue to shape business telephony: IP-based communications and mobility. Most experts believe that Voice over IP (VoIP) technologies will eventually supersede analog phone systems. VoIP enables a greater set of communications applications, namely Unified Communications (UC), which are rapidly becoming standard features for most organizations’ calling plans. Many companies already operate a converged network that runs both voice and data traffic. This converged network will continue to evolve until telephony becomes part of the data center, rather than a stand-alone solution in the enterprise.
In this scenario, the IP-based phone system will deliver voice services over the corporate network from the data center, just like any other business application. In fact, the major IP-based voice systems are designed to be installed in the data center and perform functions beyond connecting phone calls.
Adopting IP-based telephony systems also enables a greater degree of mobility for an organization’s communications. Calls — and other IP-based communications — can more easily be transferred between handsets and other mobile devices than with analog phone systems. And users, with their various smartphones and soft client-enabled tablets, require more mobile telephony features to stay productive. Over the next two years, more people will turn to their own devices to connect with their employers’ telephony systems, making and receiving calls as well as accessing business data on CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems.
Additionally, organizations are purchasing their telephony services from providers in different ways, including through fixed price packages that are based on services, service-level agreements (SLAs) for those services, and the number of users. These business telephony packages are likely to mirror today’s individual mobile service plans with unlimited calls and texting. As advanced communications functions become commoditized, these packages will also routinely include unified messaging and unified communications features.
As IP-based phone systems become the status quo for companies of all sizes and telephony providers create standardized packages with commoditized services, the telephony market will continue to evolve at a fever pitch. Today’s telecommunications technologies will continue to transform the way companies interact with their employees and the way individuals communicate with one another. As mobile communications technologies take hold in developing countries, more and more people will have access to the Internet, and to the rest of the world.