Tech Trends: Revolution In Enterprise Communications
By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine.
Voice over IP (VoIP) technology has revolutionized communication services both for consumers and in the enterprise. By moving telephony functions off of the traditional public switched telephone network, companies have been able to reduce costs by consolidating voice and data networks and eliminating carrier service fees.
"We've seen a massive shift from traditional digital PBX to VoIP-enabled unified communications and collaboration platforms over the last few years," says Richard McLeod, senior director of worldwide channels and collaboration sales for Cisco Systems. "Most companies have shifted not only to IP-enabled communications platforms, but are aggressively transitioning to enable video and to support mobile applications and social applications as well."
VoIP is at the heart of the concept of unified communications — the integration of real-time communication services like instant messaging, telephony, email, video conferencing, mobile computing, and other technologies. This type of integration not only reduces expenses and improves efficiency, but also enables a host of new applications and capabilities.
Unified communications (UC) have enabled companies to do things that simply weren't possible, or even imaginable, in the past. By integrating their digital communications technologies, businesses can establish more cost efficient structures and easier administration of the network. Employees have greater access to their messaging solutions, can more easily share documents or participate in video conferencing, and can receive calls from any line on any phone they carry.
"VoIP and SIP enable unified communications, as they allow the user to tap into all of the available applications — video, IM, voice mail, e-mail, IVR, etc.," says Gaillard. "The challenge for the enterprise is determining what parts of unified communications are most important to them and to what part of the organization these functions are critical."