Market musings

What Does the Best Business Phone of 2018 Look Like?

by Nina Quasebarth
August 31, 2017

Technology changes rapidly, including telecommunications, and the best business phone you use today may look very different a year from now. For example, the Apple iPhone just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Consider how much your world has changed over one short decade because of smartphones that put digital applications and Internet access in the palm of your hand. Or consider how much voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has changed telephony, allowing you to talk and even video-conference over a web link. As telecommunications continues to evolve, you want to be sure you have the best business phone to take advantage of new features and capabilities.

Areas of Telecomm Growth

As new communications technologies hit the market, business professionals and consumers are just as quick to adopt them. After 10 years, there have been more than 1 billion iPhones sold, and there are an estimated 85.8 million current iPhone users in the United States. In addition, there are an estimated 2 billion-plus active Android users worldwide, outpacing the iPhone. The Android has 53.3 percent of the U.S. mobile market, and the average number of times that Android users touch their phones is 2,617 per day.

Smartphones have clearly changed mobile communications.

VoIP has taken off as well. Analog landlines are dropping at a rate of 700,000 customers per month, and it’s predicted that the VoIP services market will grow 10 percent each year through 2021. Mobile VoIP is also growing at a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent. VoIP is driving adoption of unified communications (UC). Seventy percent of companies have adopted a cloud-based UC strategy, and 62 percent say that improving employee productivity is the primary motivation for adopting UC.

Before considering what next year’s business phone may look like, let’s look at some of the trends that are shaping the future of business communications.

Trends in Business Telephony

Cloud technology has fundamentally changed the way that businesses approach telephone systems. The cloud offers fast deployment of an extensible telephone infrastructure with little or no capital investment. Adopting cloud-based telephony requires digital phone systems, typically VoIP, which opens new possibilities for businesses of all sizes. Hosted phone systems offer all the capabilities that businesses have come to expect from a PBX system, including call routing ring extensions, auto attendant, and conference calling.

Hosted digital phone systems offer new possibilities as well. Suddenly, various digital communications channels can be unified into the same system. UC integrates voice, video, chat, file exchange, email, and other IP-based communications into a single system. With UC, you can add services such as converting voicemail to readable email, smart directories, and click to conference. UC capabilities power collaboration, making it easy to converse with a colleague and exchange files and images at the same time or to set up a video conference with chat channels for side conversations. All of these functions will be available in the best business phone systems of 2018.

One of the real advantages of cloud-based telecommunications is mobility. Today’s employees no longer spend eight hours at a desk, staring at their computer. By adopting a cloud-based phone system, employees can be reachable no matter where they are. VoIP services include follow-me features to reroute calls anywhere, and with smartphones, users not only can receive forwarded calls, but they can access email, files, chat, and more, just as though they had a pocket-sized UC handset.

Communications Consolidation in the Smartphone

As characterized by UC, business telephony is becoming more integrated and more consolidated, with the smartphone as the focal point.

Businesses and individuals want apps that integrate with other apps and software. They want their laptops, tablets, and smartphones to integrate with office computing systems and hardware. The smartphone is the ideal integration platform, allowing users to access business files and seamlessly integrate with other employees’ mobile devices while still offering state-of-the-art phone services.

And the new telephony makes obsolescence obsolete. Using a cloud-based data infrastructure means new software and new apps can be added and updated at any time. A hosted system also is readily extensible, adding more capabilities and more users without having to add more local hardware and software.

The smartphone remains the linchpin of the evolving infrastructure, accommodating new functions and features as needed, starting with integrated office telephony.

Spoke was developed to capitalize on the evolution of business communication, worker mobility, and the strengths of the smartphone. Spoke extends the office telephone system to employees’ smartphones so that they have the same telephone features as if they were using their desk phone handset. They get business phone features such as auto attendant, voicemail, smart directories, call forwarding, and conference calling plus features such as presence and call priority—features you would expect with a VoIP system. And they still have all the smartphone functionality they need to promote better collaboration and productivity.

When you consider what will be the best business phone for 2018, chances are that you already have one in your pocket. The handset itself will be the smartphone that you are already using. What will be new will be the apps and functions you run on it, starting with innovative business phone systems such as Spoke.

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