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IP telephony is on the move

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The enterprise VoIP landscape is transforming - for the better - thanks to emerging technologies in the enterprise

The enterprise communications landscape is changing thanks to several emerging technologies. These transformations have made it so companies are no longer reliant on outdated landline office phone systems that cannot even support mobile connectivity - a key demand in today's business world. Among the contributors to this change is VoIP, which converges voice and information packets over the Internet, allowing for a more holistic and thorough collaborative experience.

The growing demand for IP telephony has led to an increased presence in enterprise VoIP providers, so how can companies be sure they have selected the appropriate vendor? Truth be told, there is no standard method for finding the best communications partner. Decision-makers simply need to sit down, assess their current capabilities, align those abilities with long-term objectives and find a provider that is able to meet these needs without sacrificing the budget at the same time.

A recent Smart Business Network Online report highlighted how there are now big and small VoIP providers, each with their own unique benefits and obstacles that may impact a company's decision to choose them. Interestingly, the old saying "bigger is always better" is not necessarily true when it comes to telecom vendors, as some smaller organizations have nimble solutions that meet the needs of specific firms.

"Most small and medium-sized businesses want to work with a local company. Companies don't want offshore support," telecom expert Alex Desberg told SBN Online. "They want someone who is in their backyard. Someone who is in the same time zone and easy to relate to."

In other cases, enterprises seek large VoIP vendors that have built a reputation for providing efficient and reliable solutions.

The VoIP market is a new plane

While VoIP in itself is relatively new to many companies, there are still providers that have existed for some time. However, these vendors have adjusted their offerings during the past several years in an effort to keep pace with ongoing transformations in how decision-makers view their business phone system and its underlying importance to the success of the enterprise.

SBN Online said enterprise executives generally can pick one of two paths when selecting a VoIP provider: choose an apples-to-apples provider to replace an old phone system, or reinvent the workplace by introducing a new platform that invites innovative opportunities. Companies that opt for the former route often look to traditional vendors that have built their offerings off of the conventional needs of the business world. Organizations that want to leverage a complex and "next-generation" platform, on the other hand, should look to local service providers that may be more familiar with the specific needs of community corporations.

While organizations have traditionally followed the route where they replace outdated communication systems with similar solutions, many enterprises today are seeking more adaptable solutions in an effort to support a wider range of operations. This has become especially common as consumerization continues to send shockwaves throughout the business world, driving decision-makers to implement tools that can support a remote workforce without introducing connectivity or performance problems.

Even more significantly, the emergence of cloud solutions in the business world has introduced monumental changes in how individuals can communicate.

Changing everything through the cloud

Now that organizations have realized the potential benefits associated with migrating premise-based hardware and processes to an off-site environment, decision-makers are beginning to move voice services to the hosted architecture. In fact, a report by Infonetics Research highlighted how cloud VoIP, which is gaining momentum due to its scalable and reliable qualities, is pushing the IP telephony market forward. Analysts said that business and residential VoIP services generated more than $63 billion in revenue in 2012, a jump of 9 percent from 2011. This was primarily due to a major shove from the cloud landscape.

"The market for VoIP services has moved well beyond the early adopter stage to mainstream status in many developed countries. New geographic regions are opening up and SIP trunking and hosted UC continue to heat things up, fueling growth," said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP at Infonetics Research.

By leveraging hosted PBX solutions, even the smallest companies can deploy sophisticated voice services that make them appear larger than they actually are, which is critical when competing against larger enterprises with more developed reputations and budgets. In the coming years, the cloud will continue to transform business communications by giving enterprises the ability to deploy voice services that can adapt and meet the evolving needs of consumers and employees - both of which are critical to ensuring long-term success in today's evolving and competitive corporate environment.