VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol (also called internet telephony) to give its full name, has been around for some time now. Industry experts predict a market valuation of over $93.2 billion by 2024.
Whether or not you would know it, VoIP technology has been adopted across the board from Burger King to the White House. Further developments in complementary technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Unified Communications (UC), and other technologies are set to trigger new growth in the VoIP sector.
VoIP is still a developing technology and in relative terms, still young. Yet, it has been gaining ground on the analog system (also known as POTS – plain old telephone service) for some time.
VoIP provides its users with a smorgasbord of advantages.
Advantages of VoIP:
- Competitive and low-cost installation – Unlike traditional systems, VoIP doesn’t rely on the installation of phone lines and other outmoded hardware.
- Lower call costs – You don’t pay a premium on international calls, and prices are generally lower across the board.
- Remotely accessible via any internet connection – Wherever your team is located, they’re reachable. That means you can still provide world-class customer service even if your staff are all now working from home.
- Providers will manage hardware and infrastructure for VoIP systems – This means you don’t need as many IT experts on staff. That can spur significant cost savings.
- It can support multiple platforms of communication and has a bounty of features: email, voicemail, IVR or interactive voice response, time-of-day-routing, cloud sharing, and more.
- VoIP is well suited to integrate with emerging tech – The tech marries with other tech trends such as 5G, the IoT, and more.
- Expandable telephone systems (VoIP is scalable) – Simple software updates can expand your VoIP system when needed. You don’t have to install new phone lines or upgrade hardware.
- VoIP increases communication efficiency and success – Call quality over VoIP is higher than ever before. You don’t rely on outdated infrastructure that can get easily damaged or go down completely.
Research suggests that businesses can expect to save from 50% to 70% when switching from analogue systems to VoIP. You can see how and why the VoIP market is growing so quickly.
For companies that are expanding, VoIP is a fantastic tool in that it can be set up at the click of a button. The time it takes for a VoIP system to become user ready is next to none. If you’re looking for instant global connectivity, VoIP is the perfect tool.
5G and VoIP
The future is exciting. Analysts see significant changes coming ahead. With the growth of 5G, prepare to see an increase in connectivity and connected devices. The effect this will have on VoIP will be dramatic. It will supercharge service capabilities.
A reliable internet connection is more important than ever for businesses. Unstable communication networks can result in a loss of revenue — 39% of companies reported losing their telephone service in the last 12 months.
The same source states that on average, businesses telephone service fails for 8 hours. This adds up, with predicted losses. Call center operations and other companies that rely on communication can see losses of $24,000 per hour.
5G will change the running speed of the mobile internet. Speeds will increase from the average current rate of 1GB per second to over 20GB per second.
This increase in bandwidth capacity and speed will result in growth in the VoIP market. As 5G rolls out globally, we will see a decrease in network latency and improved global coverage.
When high latency occurs on a 4G network, video buffers and calls drop out. In a world where time is money, smooth connectivity and fluid communication are key.
The coupling of 5G with VoIP will give the equivalent of a fibre-optic broadband connection to mobile phone users. This will ensure that VoIP is viable on an enormous scale.
Under 5G, networks can support heavy user usage and prioritize packages, minimize errors, and provide a stable service. This is all possible at high speed. 5G is precisely the sort of technological breakthrough that VoIP has been waiting on.
VoIP twinned with 5G will result in a reduction in the costs of communication for companies with international operations.
Stats show that small businesses could save around 40% on local calls. Larger firms could save up to 90% on international calls. Just imagine the following scenario.
You’re a major retailer waiting on a delivery from a supplier overseas. The advanced shipping notice you received said you’d get your goods on Monday. It’s now Wednesday, and your stock’s running low.
In that situation, you’re going to want to make a lot of long-distance calls. Whether that be to your supplier abroad or the carrier who’s shipping your goods. VoIP and 5G combined makes that so much simpler and less expensive.
With a stable 5G system, VoIP will be a more advanced, cost-efficient alternative to POTS.
AI and machine learning meet VoIP
AI and machine learning are racing forward. They are evolving at breakneck speed. Compatible tech such as VoIP will benefit in a big way from these advancements.
AI and machine learning can already perform speech recognition and analyze call data. As advances in this field occur, expect to see correspondence and deliveries sent out automatically. In addition, AI will be able to detect and react to faults and errors.
Within an integrated VoIP network, AI could effectively manage customer service issues. Language barriers would quickly become obsolete. You could sort customers into categories based on the stress levels detected in their voice.
That kind of sentiment analysis could make a huge difference to the level of customer experience you deliver. Some callers will be reaching out at an already elevated level of frustration. If these people are put on hold, it takes much less time for their frustration to turn to outright anger.
If your Interactive Voice Response or IVR can detect these customers, it helps you no end. You can build protocols into your VoIP call handling to prioritize routing these callers to agents. That way, their issues get addressed more quickly.
Meanwhile, those customers who are more relaxed, won’t mind having to wait a little longer. Or, at least, they won’t mind as much.
That’s not the only way an AI-enabled IVR could work in a VoIP network. It will also be able to identify relevant information about correspondents. For instance, it could bring up details form an order management system once it recognizes a caller’s name or number.
Your agent, then, can see all of a caller’s order details as soon as they pick up their call. That better places them to deliver top-class answers and solutions. What’s more, AI within a VoIP system could also help prepare responses. That could help in significantly reducing call handling times.
Bots will also speed up the efficiency of workforces through automation. They can manage schedules and arrange events, meetings, and repetitive tasks. For instance, imagine a customer service department in a vast corporation.
As well as interacting with customers, reps in that department also must handle loads of admin. That would include data entry to record the details of calls or live chat interactions. AI-enabled bots can automate all of that. That, thus, takes it off the plates of agents and leaves them to handle what only humans can.
AI pattern recognition will also enable businesses to analyze how their customers behave. It will be able to learn from previous interactions to improve performance. It can also help gather info to prepare for new client engagements.
A VoIP system or UC platform doesn’t just help a firm to deliver effective communication. It also provides multiple new channels by which to gather data. That information could be invaluable, but only if it can get analyzed effectively and swiftly.
That’s where machine learning comes in. AI-enabled neural networks can process massive volumes of information. They’re able to ID patterns and derive actionable insights for your business to utilize.
From POTS to VoIP
Landlines are fast becoming obsolete. According to Statista, just over 40% of American households are now without a landline. These households rely on wireless communication. Of the 60% who still have the old-fashioned tech, many would keep them solely for their broadband. The number of landline calls made and received is plummeting.
An interesting trend to note is the high number of children and young adults using wireless tech, including cell phones. As they say, children are the future. This trend is a fact worth noting. It is a sign of things to come.
POTS will still be with us for some time, but the communications landscape is changing. For keen and savvy business folk, the opportunities VoIP boast are attractive.
Consumers’ preferences for wireless tech over landlines will have a cumulative effect, too. As landlines become less popular, less effort and expense will be spent on maintaining them. Their quality and reliability, thus, will diminish further. That will push people even more towards alternatives like cell phones or VoIP.
VoIP merges with IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is another prevalent tech trend of recent years. ‘Smart’ devices are multiplying at an extraordinary rate. Today, all manner of items can communicate with one another and add to the ever more data available to organizations and businesses.
The Internet of Things and VoIP enhance and broaden each other’s capabilities. You can already receive calendar updates over your VoIP network, and get messages from your automobile about mechanical issues. Text messages can be backed up to email.
VoIP has a great advantage to the POTS system when it comes to IoT, as it is a connectable system. As we increase the range of devices we use, this becomes more important. Having a communications network that can blend seamlessly with the IoT is only going to get more critical.
Both VoIP and IoT are fast-growing markets. Expect to see high levels of investment in combined usage.
VoIP’s cyber security needs
VoIP does have individual security needs, as does any other web-based data. Luckily, we have the means of protecting VoIP. Have no fear, cybersecurity is here!
For the market to grow, customer confidence in VoIP must be ensured. Fortunately, VoIP has a host of security measures currently available. Plus, there are many more in development.
The future for VoIP security measures is worth keeping tabs on. Trends show an increase in R&D into higher levels of encryption, more comprehensive firewalls, and tailored VoIP security measures.
Designing and tailoring security packages for VoIP will turn into a booming industry. Platforms with industry standard protection, after all, will be the only ones businesses consider using. As cybercriminals find new ways to attack networks, it’s the responsibility of companies to stay a step ahead.
VoIP talks to UC
Unified Communications (UC) will harness VoIP to provide high-end integrated communication solutions. UC will create seamless experiences integrating VoIP. This includes content sharing, web and video conferencing, desktop sharing, and data sharing.
UC aims to pool all our communication resources into one manageable package. A robust unified communications platform is a means of firms bringing all their channels together. This is vital as businesses and consumers now communicate via a plethora of methods.
UC, then, helps businesses provide seamless communications. VoIP is crucial to the mechanics of this. Only a VoIP system can fold effortlessly into such a platform. Traditional telephony is not compatible. This is something that many of the large telecommunications and technology companies are focused on.
Looking to the future
This article set out to outline some of the key emerging trends that are resulting in the sustained growth of VoIP. Some of the noteworthy developments that need to be highlighted include developments in AI and machine learning, the decreasing use of POTS, and advances in IoT and UC.
With so much change in the communication sector ahead, many an entrepreneurial investor is set to make impressive gains. If you study the emerging trends and with so much investment out there, you’ll see that VoIP and associated tech is worth watching.
Originally published Apr 01, 2020, updated May 04, 2021