Businesses large and small require communications systems that meet their unique needs, but with the lightning pace of technological change, it can be difficult to know which solutions are best suited to your company, and whether or not you should embrace innovations such as Hosted Telephony to empower flexible working.
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Fear of making the wrong choice can leave business owners confused and delay sometimes vital transitions to newer technologies. Understanding the driving forces behind the ever-evolving telephony market is a good place to start, as trends in telephony and communications are always led by the changing needs of modern businesses. So what does the future of business telephony hold?
VoIP Telephony- Increasingly flexible deployment
A major sticking point for businesses thinking of upgrading their telephony is the idea of depreciation of their current infrastructure. Having invested in costly on-site equipment, managers can be understandably reluctant to give up such expenditure and switch to completely new systems. VoIP telephony providers these days are aware of this, and many brands now offer flexible solutions that can be deployed over existing infrastructure. Avaya’s Server Edition of their popular IP Office product is a prime example of this- the phone system can be based in a data centre, on premise, or virtualised. The ability to take the system off-site but keep any existing handsets and other kit is very appealing to companies who have already taken the investment plunge but who also feel the need to upgrade to something with more features and flexibility.
Ongoing Growth of Hosted Solutions
Although the telephony market as a whole has been growing quickly over the past few years, Hosted Telephony in particular has seen substantial growth, with 250,000 new “seats” added in the first half of 2016. This represents a 25 percent growth in the industry from mid-2015 to mid-2016, a staggering expansion which has driven competition between different providers to create the most attractive product – good news for buyers, as it means prices are kept stable even as new features are added. Recently, there has also been significant uptake of hosted telephony amongst larger businesses looking to take advantage of the flexibility and power of Hosted Telephony solutions, demonstrating that it’s beginning to break into the vertical market.
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SIP Trunking as an ISDN replacement
SIP Trunking has also seen substantial growth of more than 20 percent over the past year, though this is a slight slowdown in comparison with previous years and less than was predicted for the year ahead. Industry experts think that this is due in part to the fact that BT’s 2025 ISDN turn-off date (which will force businesses to upgrade) isn’t imminent enough to create a demand for upgrades, especially in comparison with countries whose ISDN service is being discontinued much sooner, such as Switzerland (2017) and Germany (2018). However, it’ll still be necessary to invest in an alternative solution at some point, and SIP trunks offer many benefits over standard ISDN services.
Unified communications (UC) means different things to different people, but the underlying concept is a package which brings together multiple strands of your communications channels. The definition of UC is always evolving but the flexibility of a CPaaS solution is that it allows businesses to create their own tailor-made applications within the provider’s framework, essentially picking and choosing which features suit them best. Services like Avaya’s “Zang” allow businesses to implement flexible Real Time Communications (RTC), incorporating video, messaging and voice services without needing separate applications for each channel. This makes CPaaS a good fit for vertical businesses with access to high-speed and reliable broadband connections; because CPaaS provides an environment within which specialised communications suites can be built, they allow for highly customised solutions to be constructed whilst also remaining flexible and reasonably priced.
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Next steps in telephony
Clearly the Hosted Telephony market is growing stronger, with various services beginning to penetrate into large businesses. In the coming years, we’re likely to see ongoing competition drive continued penetration into the mid-market and specific vertical business sectors as CPaaS and hosted telephony offer even better services, and the ISDN turn-off date will drive continued uptake of SIP trunking as it draws closer.