If you’ve been thinking about replacing your business phone system, it’s worth brushing up on the latest VoIP trends. Even if you’re not, things are changing rapidly enough that your competitors may be getting an edge by taking advantage of the latest advancements in VoIP and VoIP-related technology.
Business communications and collaboration has been undergoing a huge transformation recently. According to Harvard Business Review, Telecom is the #2 industry undergoing digital transformation.
What does this mean for you? That depends on your business. We’ve assembled the latest VoIP trends below so you can assess which ones give you the most opportunity to make an impact with your technology choices.
1. Increased VoIP Security & Compliance Demands
As hosted and cloud VoIP gain wider acceptance, companies are demanding more security out of their VoIP solutions. Hosted VoIP is not just a curiosity anymore. It’s no longer the exclusive domain of startups and businesses willing to take risks. Serious businesses are relying on hosted VoIP to carry vital communications and sensitive information.
Leading hosted VoIP providers are responding by ensuring higher levels of security to keep customers’ data and communications safe, away from the prying eyes of hackers. At Mitel, we’ve done this in part by hosting our flagship cloud VoIP communications system on Google Cloud Platform. It means our customers get the resources of one of the world’s largest tech companies to help keep their hosted communications safe.
In fact, it’s not just general security that’s getting attention in the hosted VoIP sector lately. Companies in highly regulated industries like healthcare are interested in the advantages hosted VoIP can provide—demanding greater security and compliance from providers who want to serve them. This is especially true in smaller healthcare organizations like doctor’s offices, dentists, clinics and specialists.
We’re glad that some hosted VoIP phone systems like MiCloud Connect have been updated in a way that’s brought their security standards up to the requirements of the likes of HIPAA and SOC2 compliance—ultimately giving customer a choice they didn’t have before.
2. Accelerated Adoption of Hosted VoIP
Analysts have been predicting a steady rise in hosted VoIP for years, but recently adoption is increasing at a faster rate than analysts previously expected.
What does this mean? Essentially, better choices for you. Since leading hosted VoIP providers have lots or resources due to customer growth, they can invest in more robust, reliable, inventive hosted VoIP phone systems and the applications that go along with them. Or they can invest in an improved user experience. Or better support. The list goes on.
3. VoIP System Value vs Lowest Price
It’s easy for any technology provider to claim it offers a price advantage. But as hosted VoIP becomes more ubiquitous and product/service offerings become more mature, fewer companies are focused on simply procuring the cheapest option. More companies are looking to get good value for the money as the shortcomings of budget systems rear their heads.
Cheap VoIP phone systems are typically just that—cheap. They’re designed to minimize costs, so cheap providers can’t spend time developing and delivering quality products and services. They typically have minimal features, clunky interfaces, poor customer support and little-to-nothing in the way of integrations with business-critical third-party applications, like Salesforce or Google Office apps.
You may get a pat on the back for saving the company money when you first sign a contract with a cheap VoIP supplier, but you’ll be dodging angry looks a few months in, when nobody can get work done because they’re using a glitchy, sub-par system.
That’s why more and more companies are looking for a good value in their VoIP system—that is to say that they feel like they’re getting a lot for the price they pay.
That can include things like reliability, features, security, service, ease of use and more. Even though you won’t see it on a lot of feature lists, something as simple as time saved and hassle avoided can be major factors in customer satisfaction and how a company intuitively calculates the value they get from their phone system. Smart companies don’t let price be the only decision factor.
4. Proliferation & Consolidation of VoIP Providers
As the barrier to entry drops, small VoIP providers are popping up everywhere. However, this element of choice doesn’t necessarily help customers, as most of those offerings are ubiquitous and undifferentiated.
On the mid-large side of providers, vendors are consolidating, putting market power behind their innovations. This is typically where you’ll see more unique features, packages and complete offerings. At Mitel, for example, we’re able to put more effort and resources into making our flagship hosted VoIP system easy to use, simple to manage and smooth to implement compared to a new startup VoIP company that may be struggling just to build basic functionality.
What can you do about all this choice? The main thing you can do is research your options. VoIP providers that customers love typically earn a number of awards from respected analysts who have tested and judged their services against their main competitors.
Finally, going with a smaller VoIP provider during this time of industry consolidation means that there’s a good chance they’ll be acquired by a larger provider. That’s not necessarily the end of the world, but it does mean that things you liked about that smaller provider may change once they’re acquired, and you may still be under contract. Mitel is the #1 cloud provider worldwide and the #2 UCaaS (aka, hosted cloud VoIP) provider worldwide, so it’s a pretty safe bet the parts of our hosted VoIP you love the most will remain for a long time (while we continue to make enhancements, of course).
Here are a few of the acquisitions and mergers Mitel has made in recent years:
5. VoIP Playing a Bigger Role in Customer Contact & Customer Experience
Hosted VoIP started out primarily as a tool for companies to communicate internally, but as offerings become more sophisticated and niched-out, and as focus on delivering great customer experience rises, hosted VoIP is pushing into this space.
Here are a few examples from iPerceptions:
67 percent of customers say they’ll pay more for a great experience
57 percent of customers have stopped buying from a company because one of their competitors provided a better experience
71 percent of people recommend a product or service because they received a “great experience”
Call center and customer experience platforms started out separate from companies’ hosted VoIP systems. But to take advantage of full customer/prospect lifecycle data and create experiences that are as frictionless as possible, the two have become much more integrated.
Hosted VoIP today, in fact, is often being packaged up into a single omni-channel solution that also handles the diverse channels customers use to communicate with companies and organizations like yours.
Regardless of the customer experience platform you ultimately choose, it’s useful to think about how it integrates (or doesn’t) into your hosted VoIP system—because lots of companies are squeezing competitive advantages out of the right combination of technology.
6. Adoption is Growing Among Mid-to-Larger Companies
Hosted VoIP really got its foothold with small business, and for good reason—they typically don’t have a ton of expensive legacy systems to rip and replace and they typically have fewer business-critical systems that have to integrate seamlessly with their phone systems. This allowed for relatively simple systems without a lot of bells and whistles, or options, to proliferate.
However, as the core functionality becomes more commoditized and undifferentiated, and as even these same small businesses become more sophisticated, some hosted VoIP companies are offering more in order to attract additional kinds of customers.
Offering more features and integrations to align with more advanced needs. Offering multiple tiers of service. Mitel even offers mixing and matching of service tiers, which most competitors don’t – so you don’t have to pay for features you don’t need for every user. Providers are also bringing different kinds of functions into the hosted VoIP ecosystem, like collaboration and call center / contact center functionality.
Which leads us to our next trend.
7. More Levels of Service & Customization
One-size-fits-all simply doesn’t work for hosted VoIP anymore. Larger companies are moving to hosted VoIP. Companies with more complex needs are moving to hosted VoIP. Even small companies can have users ranging from expert power users who rely on advanced VoIP functionality every day to rare users who need things as simple as possible.
That’s why some VoIP providers like Mitel are offering multiple services or plan levels so that companies can get what they need at a price that makes sense. At Mitel, we have a basic plan that keeps costs and features simple. We have a standard plan that keeps things affordable while giving users more capabilities. We have a premium plan with plenty of bells and whistles.
In fact, unlike most hosted VoIP vendors, we even let you mix and match plans on a per user basis so that you’re not paying for premium functionality for a user who only has basic VoIP needs.
For enterprises and companies who need next-level sophistication in their cloud communications systems, we even have a whole other level of offering. That way, everyone can find what they need without compromising.
8. Companies Are Coming at VoIP from All Different Directions
Acquisitions, mergers and partnerships are popping up everywhere as companies try to combine VoIP and related collaboration and customer experience technologies to give their customers a single unified experience across channels.
Videoconferencing companies are trying to buy hosted VoIP providers, collaboration-only companies are integrating with phone system vendors, and hosted VoIP providers are partnering with contact center companies.
What does this mean for you?
In the long term, it means that all the different facets of communications and collaboration technology should become less fragmented and better integrated over time, making this kind of technology purchase simpler down the road.
In the short term, it will probably pay off to choose a company who has already integrated many of these technologies under one roof and has deep integrations with any third-party partners to avoid disconnects. Of course, we’re a little biased, but Mitel fits the bill.
Want to see how our all-in-one hosted VoIP phone, collaboration and contact center solution works? See the demo >
Which of These VoIP Trends Can Mitel Help With?
Essentially, all of the above. There are plenty of companies out there publishing posts about shiny VoIP trends they have no way of helping you with. But we know you need to make an impact now—not in five or ten years. So decided to focus this post on trends you can action now, or in the very near future.
How? We have a great range of VoIP phone systems available for different needs, including our flagship hosted VoIP system, MiCloud Connect and our sophisticated private cloud VoIP system, MiCloud Flex. You can also extend and expand capabilities with our hosted VoIP collaboration tools and hosted VoIP customer experience solutions.