It is astounding just how quickly telecommunications technology is changing. The past year has seen two major trends arise in business communications that are altering the playing field for all organisations.
Mobile is not a new technology, but the improvement in mobile data coverage and speeds, coupled with the demand for greater flexible working, has only accelerated the adoption of Smartphones as the communications tool of choice for many employees. And further developments in cloud telephony services have contributed to rapid growth in the number of businesses choosing cloud-based voice services as an alternative to traditional ISDN. Mobility and flexibility have been two key drivers for this change in the business market, with businesses seeking new ways to become more competitive, more agile and more efficient.
This article will take a look at these two trends and considers what the future holds for effective business communications.
The rise and rise of mobile
Smartphones are now the go-to productivity tool in every business. We are using them for everything from making calls to messaging and sending multimedia documents, to ordering and purchasing goods and services and working out on the road utilising cutting-edge apps.
The rise of mobile as an integral tool for doing business means that fast, reliable mobile data is an essential requirement. Organisations must now prioritise their mobile telecommunications as highly as their other IT systems. This means implementing a mobile solution designed specifically for businesses, which prioritises business data and voice traffic over that of consumers.
Businesses now expect providers to deliver the same level of functionality and customer service that they would get from fixed line services. The demand has grown for fixed-line features such as call-routing to be available for mobile, so that the company phone is a fully-functioning office tool similar to the desktop phone. We would expect more and more organisations to demand converged services of this sort in the coming year.
Five years ago, industry experts talked about how Cloud technology could change the world. They told us why IT products would become contactless, and how the physical elements we had long depended on to keep us connected would disappear.
Today, the Cloud Industry Forum says that 84% of UK companies are using Cloud tech, compared to 48% in 2010. Now we are surrounded by Cloud technology wherever we go and it has changed our working lives. Businesses are now realigning their IT departments to take advantage of the unprecedented levels of flexibility, agility and reliability that the Cloud offers.
Voice telephony, for example, is rapidly migrating to the Cloud, to the extent that BT has confirmed it will turn off its ISDN network in 2025 – signalling the end of a system that has been at the centre of telecommunications since 1988.
Instead of relying on fixed, wholly on-site infrastructure, companies are turning to cloud-based alternatives such as SIP trunking or fully hosted phone systems. This is where the business benefit can really be felt, with less expenditure on installing and maintaining physical infrastructure and greater network resilience to maximise uptime. In addition, consuming telephony as a service removes large capital expenditure from IT spend and drives operational cost down by ensuring organisations only pay for what is used.
The reliance on voice communication is still undeniably a key contributing factor to the success of businesses in the UK. And with digital transformation a key objective for many IT departments as we move into 2017, cloud based services are still very much leading the way.