Market musings

Businesses Cut the Cord: the Future of Internet Telephony

by Sasha Viasasha
June 2, 2017

Shopping for a business phone system? Navigating the wrecked landscape of a telecom industry disrupted can be confusing, to say the least. Everyone is selling a proprietary system (or even two or three), and the transition from legacy PBX to internet telephony seems to have replicated rather than reduced the worst features of the old, copper-wire models.

Worst of all, the new IP phone systems rely on broadband networks, and the quality and reliability of these networks are by no means yet standardized. Best of class may mean unreliable in the internet telephony market for some time into the future. On the other hand, there will be no return to the old Ma Bell world. Telecommunications providers have been actively retiring their old copper wire networks for years, and in 2015 the FCC formalized the process, mandating that providers must give business customer just six months warning that the service is ending. Price hikes on PSTN (public switched telephone network) plans are likely in the next few years as telecoms move more aggressively out of the space.

As the telecoms have learned, most things are harder to get out of than they are to get into, and business phone systems exemplify this motto. While VoIP may offer some costs savings over old PBX systems, by the time you learn whether you can recover any meaningful ROI, you’re probably in over your head. The contract model is favored by VoIP providers, and to realize any significant savings you have to make a rather significant time commitment, as well as an investment in hardware.

Off premise locates the bulk of the equipment off-site, reducing the initial cost, but the phone system itself can be quite costly, whether it's paid for upfront or rolled into the subscription fees. Nor do these costs buy you immunity from obsolescence. Dealers across the US and Canada were stunned to learn that Toshiba is shutting down both its digital and IP phone offerings this year, including its hosted services.

In the meanwhile, on many plans, forwarding calls to your smartphone may be extra, and requires reconfiguring your network. Adding freelancers, contractors, and customers is a cumbersome and confusing process. Some plans even limit the number of cellular phones that you can add per desk phone, or include other stipulations, making it even harder to use the one device that nearly every single person is carrying in their hand. This seems staggering when you look at the role the smartphone has come to play our lives. Consider the following stats:

  • According to recent study by Bank of America published on MarketWatch, 4 out of 10 millennials say that they interact more with their smartphones than they do other people, including significant others, children and co-workers.
  • Two-thirds of American’s today own a smartphone. Nielson broke this down and looked at it generationally: 98% Millennials aged 18-24, 97% of Millennials aged 25-34, and 96% of Gen Xers aged 35-44 own a smartphone, making smartphones nearly ubiquitous among these segments.
  • A 2013 Forrester report found that 64% of workers use their smartphone while sitting at their desk phone.
  • BYOD culture and flexible work arrangements aren’t just a nice perk. Deloitte’s 2017 millennial study found strong links between flexible work arrangements and enhanced productivity and employee engagement.
  • According to Cisco, BYOD employees save an average of 81 minutes a day, with some hyperproductive employees saving up to two hours.

It seems obvious, when you think about it. The future of internet telephony is in your pocket, on the device that you already use for all your communications. The desk phone is going the way of the dial tone, as people want to communicate on a device that they have an intimate connection with.

Millennials in particular are emotionally attached to their phones and prefer to remain connected to them. They are more likely to be responsive and engaged when working on their own devices.

The freedom of mobility and the flexibility of work are the promise of the last decade of technological disruption. The smartphone is more than a device, it's become integral to how we interact and interface with each other in the world,.

Nor is the smartphone likely to lose its dominance any time soon.  No other device has come anywhere close to dethroning it. People are taking their smartphones into the world, where watches, tablets and even the connected car are waiting. The office can be deployed on the road, waiting in line at the store, or even waiting for the light to change at a busy city intersection. 

The simplicity, ease and functionality of a single-device model is superior to any other system on the market. Unifying communications means streamlining systems and integrating platforms, and the first place to begin is reducing redundancies in hardware. Software can easily adapt as the landscape of internet telephony changes, allowing your businesses the agility and flexibility to scale up or down as needed, and giving you the reslience you need to survive. 

Spoke has designed a simple but robust app that can turn your BYOD network into a smart company phone system in just three minutes. Our smart system can organize and maintain your company directory, and assign extensions and calling groups. It features call presence to show who is available, and provides call context so the recipient knows what the call is all about. It’s super easy to add and remove users, and it protects all of your mission-critical data so you never have to worry. Check out our security whitepaper to learn about our security promise to you. Want to try it out? We invite you to join our free trial, no strings, no credit card required.

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