The convergence of telephony with television, video and networking has enabled a digital revolution in business communications. At the core of this revolution is Voice over IP, (“VoIP”), a digital voice distribution system. It is the foundation stone in a distributed communications strategy (“DCS”).
It is far beyond the simple introduction of a VoIP telephone system. In many companies, web and video conferencing is now the norm. They replace traditional desktop handsets with VoIP Phones or smartphones and organise virtual meetings using laptops, tablets and communications apps on the fly during the working day.
Distributed Communications Components
Users currently use a variety of communications methods ranging from post-it notes to WhatsApp and other message and collaborative apps for desktop and smartphones/tablets. The days of being out of touch are gone. Everyone expects to be able to communicate internally and externally in a variety of ways, and usually immediately.
Often called a Unified Communications Strategy, a DCS links the various digital communications platforms into a cohesive whole. The VoIP for Business system pulls together messaging, meetings and telephony into a single platform based around VoIP telephony to help the user communicate effectively inside and outside the business.
At its heart is VoIP for Business, usually first implemented with a VoIP telephone system. A VoIP telephone system is a lot more than “just a phone”. A system supporting it brings with it a host of new features and functions. It provides simple telephony obviously, supplemented by programmed and on-the-fly group voice and video calling. VoIP supports apps like Skype to allow one-on-one and group video calling, file transfer and desktop sharing. Coupled with a full-blown video-conferencing system, it provides a powerful environment for video calling, information sharing and transfers worldwide.
Video calling can be provided via video-capable VoIP Phones on the desktop, by integrating VoIP with the desktop and smartphone or tablet, and by integration with full-blown video-conferencing systems.
Implementation of SIP interfaces on the VoIP telephone system and a mobile device allows a VoIP Phone extension to be transferred to a mobile device. The extension owner can make and receive calls anywhere their mobile device can connect to the corporate network, and sometimes even to the internet. This means no place to hide anymore.
A major benefit of VoIP for Business is a dramatic reduction in costs. Using the corporate network and the internet to carry voice and video data immediately reduces the line charges associated with dial-up networking. Other cost benefits can accrue with reductions in travel and subsistence costs since meetings can now be held over a video connection rather than in person.
It can also increase the effectiveness of communications, particularly in multi-cultural and multi-language environments. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are fewer and less severe if you can see the other person in the call.
Crafting a Distributed Communications Strategy
Corporate network performance is critical to the operation of a DCS. Everyone is aware of the frustration of poor quality and dropped calls. Crafting the DCS, therefore, looks at managing network capacity, complexity and cost. Voice, video and file streaming each have different network requirements. Planning for the installation of VoIP, and in the broader sense the Distributed Communications Environment requires an analysis of the likely network traffic arising from each of the various communications apps and devising a network configuration that will support the probable network usage pattern. Fall-back and backup links need to be included in the planning. Enabling comprehensive security of voice and digital data during calls is of paramount importance.
VoIP for Business has very quickly established itself as an essential component of a DCS, and is the first element to be installed. The benefits to accrue to a business are substantial both in terms of communications cost reduction and user satisfaction.