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Taking steps away from the old phone system

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Companies are no longer satisfied with the PSTN and are looking for VoIP and mobility for answers.

The business phone system has changed during the past several years, as innovative technologies have emerged and replaced the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Employees demand flexibility and are no longer content using outdated solutions that do not cater to their mobile needs. Although there are several key technologies that are influencing the decision to move away from the traditional land line system, IP telephony is near the top of the list of major disruptors.

The enterprise VoIP system has essentially changed the collaboration game. Companies of all sizes now have the option to implement an IP-based telephony service that combines voice and data over the Internet, allowing firms using the solutions to reduce costs and streamline operations. But these are not the only benefits associated with using VoIP in the workplace. In fact, decision-makers often recognize the technology's applications as the leading benefits.

Out with the old

A recent report by My VoIP Provider highlighted the ongoing transition from PSTN to VoIP platforms in the workplace, noting that enterprises often enjoy the broad range of advanced phone system features that come hand in hand with IP telephony.

Conferencing is one of the tools that can be incorporated into a VoIP platform. Because VoIP supports transferring both traditional voice and data packets through the Internet, decision-makers can implement video - or audio - conferencing applications that will breathe new life into the old collaborative landscape. When people have the ability to speak face to face without having to travel or be physically present, the overall communication experience can be optimized. Unlike speaking to someone over the phone, video conferencing allows people to pick up on subtle facial expressions and other things that can give insight into how the conversation is going.

VoIP also supports caller ID and voicemail solutions, usually for no extra cost, My VoIP Provider noted. While these applications were often available via the PSTN, decision-makers had to pay extra to use them, making the entire process of maintaining a legacy phone system more expensive.

The news source highlighted how the business world is increasingly replacing old phone systems with VoIP because of the latter technology's ability to provide employees with the tools they need to maintain operations. In many cases, PSTN offerings cannot support mobile connectivity, which is becoming extremely important in today's enterprise. As bring your own device (BYOD) and other mobile endeavors pick up momentum, decision-makers need to be sure their telephony platforms are capable of reinforcing the next-generation mobile strategies.

Mobility is taking over

The proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the workplace is changing how companies view communications. Furthermore, the adoption of BYOD is giving individuals greater freedom regarding how they interact with colleagues, customers and partners. This movement, which is a component of the larger consumerization of IT, enables employees to use personal gadgets for work-related purposes. This is important because it requires minimal training, as most people are already comfortable with using an advanced mobile platform.

By implementing a VoIP network, decision-makers can even let workers use mobile devices outside the confines of the office. As employees demand the ability to work from home or on the road, executives need to be sure their phone system is capable of supporting a remote workforce, something VoIP is renowned for.

A separate IDC report highlighted the growing demand for mobility in the workplace, though enterprises are often torn between allowing individuals to use personal smartphones and tablets or having the company provide those endpoints for the workforce. Regardless of which approach best suits a particular organization, decision-makers need to ensure they plan the projects to a T, eliminating the chances of encountering unforeseen problems down the road.

"Many IT organizations are currently working through their mobile device strategy and policy issues. To be successful, IDC recommends that IT executives establish a governance committee including finance, HR, and Legal to outline a comprehensive bring-your-own-device strategy, including use policies and cost allocation methods. Most importantly, we recommend IT executives identify the costs associated with developing and supporting multiple mobile platforms and apply a governance strategy to mobile application development efforts to ensure projects are prioritized based on the highest value add to the enterprise," said Meredith Whalen, senior vice president of IT executive and industry research at IDC.

In the coming years, the office phone system will continue to evolve, especially as IP technologies mature and cloud services move to the forefront of the IT landscape. Forward-thinking decision-makers must understand that the old ways of doing business are gone, and that adapting to today's needs will be critical to long-term survival. By planning ahead and working with a trusted service provider, enterprises can keep pace with the transformations happening within the telecommunications environment, gaining a competitive advantage over rival firms that have yet to embrace change.