Why run two networks – one for voice and one for data – when one will do? For that matter, why go through the trouble of managing your voice operations at all? Why not let specialists do the heavy lifting so you can concentrate on more strategic matters?
Small businesses had the right answers to these questions years ago. For years, the vast majority of Hosted VoIP deployments were at smaller firms, according to Frost & Sullivan, which found that in 2014, almost 7 out of 10 Hosted VoIP customers were businesses with less than 50 employees. Just 15% of Hosted VoIP installations were at larger enterprises.
But that was three years ago. Things have started to change. Today analysts say that large enterprises are enthusiastically adopting Hosted VoIP, with some even predicting higher growth in enterprises than in small businesses. Overall, Hosted VoIP and UC seats increased 22% year over year in the first half of 2016 alone. By 2020, Hosted VoIP is expected to exceed 70 million seats globally.
According to a survey by Broadsoft, telecommunications companies believe that by 2020, 45% of enterprises will have adopted Hosted VoIP – an estimate that is 25% higher than last year’s survey.
Enterprises are clearly catching on to something small businesses have known for a while.
Why Enterprises are Transitioning to Hosted VoIP
So what exactly did small businesses realize so early about Hosted VoIP? For starters, being typically cash-cautious as well as lacking internal IT expertise, they realized they would get all the benefits of VoIP – flexibility, scalability, and massive cost savings – minus the capital expense and hassle of buying, installing, and maintaining the equipment themselves. This would make their voice solution and the associated maintenance just a predictable line item in their monthly budget. Not to mention eliminating the burden of hiring – or contracting with – on-premise VoIP technology experts.
Large enterprises increasingly understand these benefits. They also have additional reasons for moving to Hosted VoIP: the increasing number of remote and contract mobile workers, the rise of BYOD and the need for seamless integration with other enterprise apps. Let’s examine these drivers one at a time.
Support for Mobile and Remote Workers
Mobility is definitely driving Hosted VoIP in larger enterprises. That’s because mobile devices are quickly turning into the device of choice for enterprise users. IDC says that mobility is already a “core requirement” for most enterprise apps. It’s predicted that by the end of 2017, 100% of consumer-facing apps and 75% of employee-facing apps will be designed with a “mobile-first” mentality.
This goes for phones as well. Unlike VoIP systems, aging PBXs can’t do the sophisticated call forwarding and message retrieval services to and from mobile devices. Mobile VoIP is offered as part of an enterprise Hosted VoIP service via a “softphone” application – software that allows devices to use VoIP services via broadband connections. Most of today’s smartphones can access both cell phone networks and Hosted VoIP services, allowing users to seamlessly switch between cellular connections and WiFi. And because it’s hosted versus on-premise, all the support calls and technical troubleshooting tasks go straight to your VoIP provider, not to your IT department, freeing your staff up for more strategic concerns.
For enterprises with remote workers, Hosted VoIP is a godsend. Because the telephony technology is hosted in the cloud, employees can access the phone system from anywhere, on any device through a downloadable application. They can work remotely from home phones or cell phones with access to features as if in the office. They can be reached wherever they happen to be by changing phone settings to ring multiple devices – either simultaneously or in a specific order. With leading hosted VoIP vendors, they get the option of retrieving voicemail messages via phone, email, or through a user portal on their computers. And your company can have a single dial plan for the entire enterprise, despite being geographically distributed.
The Need for Seamless Integration with Cloud Apps
As more companies move toward cloud-based applications – software as a service (SaaS) apps in particular – they will be looking for telephony functions that can be easily integrated with them. Hosted VoIP fits the bill here, too.
SaaS is expected to grow sharply to nearly one-quarter (23%) of all enterprise workloads by mid-2018, according to research by 451 Research. Whether for collaboration, HR, accounting, or CRM, most enterprises have come to depend on cloud-based software. Since these services as well as VoIP are delivered over data networks, siloed data workflows can be eliminated. Leading Hosted VoIP providers provide the back-office connectors that translate between different applications, boosting efficiency of workflows and, ultimately, the productivity of employees.
Support for BYOD
You’re probably familiar with BYOD, the practice of enterprises allowing employees to use their own personal smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices for work rather than being forced to use company devices only. A study by Juniper Research concluded that by 2018, there will be more than 1 billion devices used in BYOD programs worldwide. Juniper also found that by the end of 2017, 50% of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes.
What does this have to do with VoIP? Leading Hosted VoIP providers offer seamless telephone service using whatever device the employee happens to be using, wherever he or she happens to be working. This is great news for employees who want to use their BYOD devices whether they are in the office, at home, or on the road – increasing productivity by giving them the same phone features and functionality at all times.
The even better news: enterprises can save money with VoIP, as it works on most mobile operators’ plans at lower calling rates. Not incidentally, Hosted VoIP delivers all the PBX functionality your business needs without the capital expense of buying new hardware or the operational expense of managing and maintaining that hardware.
The top reason enterprises are looking to move to VoIP: they’re having problems with aging, end-of-life voice systems – specifically, that’s 52% of enterprises, according to Software Advice’s 2015 VoIP buying survey. By choosing a Hosted VoIP solution over an on-premise one, your enterprise can support its mobile and remote users; integrate with SaaS applications; work with BYOD devices and save money along the way. For all these reasons, enterprises are quickly catching up with small businesses when it comes to adoption of Hosted VoIP.