Article from Jon Arnold, independent telecom analyst
During my most recent series, I focused on the opportunity presented by remote working, especially for SMBs looking to be more agile. Many of the long-standing obstacles have fallen away with today’s technologies, and remote working can have a transformative effect on your business. This was a key takeaway at the end of that series, and it’s leading me to examine the power of transformation more broadly for SMBs.
While remote working is mainly an operational decision, adopting VoIP is driven by technology and the need for IT to update the phone system. You can very easily let that frame the context for this decision, with VoIP being a simple solution to a basic problem. When your legacy phone system reaches end of life, a replacement is needed since everyone still needs to make calls.
There’s nothing wrong with that thinking, and it certainly was the basis for buying your last phone system. You can do the same this time around – after all, a phone system is just a phone system. At face value, VoIP is exactly that; it looks, feels and behaves just like TDM. Your employees won’t notice the difference, and it’s totally transparent to them.
Telephony has long been a utility with little strategic value to the business. Legacy telephony was pretty much an oligarchy where everyone had the same services and paid the same high prices. Innovation was not part of the equation and there was no competitive advantage to be had for businesses.
Are You Still Thinking This Way About Telephony?
If so, and if you’re happy doing that, there’s no point in reading further. VoIP initially emerged out of a demand for lower cost telephony, but the ultimate vision was never about replicating legacy service. The creators of VoIP – the Israeli military, by the way – recognized the potential of the Internet to be an alternate transport medium to the PSTN for voice traffic. This opened up a world of new possibilities for where and how telephony could be utilized, since users no longer needed to be tethered to a fixed wireline connection.
Furthermore, the service itself was based on the principals of legacy telephony, but using a fundamentally different set of standards and protocols. VoIP was developed from the outset with Internet-based tools, making it natively interoperable with other Internet-based communications modes. Unlike legacy telephony, VoIP was not built as an island, separate and independent from all the other modes we use all day long at work.
You don’t need a deep technical knowledge of VoIP’s inner workings to see how this changes the nature of telephony. For businesses that are striving for a competitive edge, any form of innovation must be considered, and that’s the plane where VoIP enters the conversation. Instead of viewing VoIP as telephony, you need to see it as a digital communications application that can be used wherever employees have access to broadband.
Think about what that means for liberating employees from their desks. Think about what that means for the need to centralize your staff for ease of proximity. Think about what that means for how you communicate with customers and support their needs. Think about workplace efficiencies that come from employees being more responsive and accessible, along with being less stressed from wasting time playing phone tag. Think about how the flexibility of IP communications empowers employees to embrace new technologies. Think about how VoIP lays the foundation to adopt new applications for even richer communications experiences.
To Break Through, You Must Break With
These are just a few examples of how VoIP is a first step towards moving beyond telephony. This is about thinking strategically instead of tactically. The underlying challenge is the fact that legacy telephony has not evolved for decades, so there has been little reason to think about it in new ways – despite the fact that the Internet has changed everything around us, and mobility is now the preferred way to communicate.
Breaking with an ossified way of thinking is essential for getting transformational value out of VoIP. Replicating legacy service is easy, but offers no long term advantage. To get a break through, you have to look at VoIP with new eyes, and see it as a communications application rather than a new phone system. The breakthrough comes from seeing VoIP integrated with other communications modes, allowing employees to do new things in new ways – none of which would be possible by staying with legacy telephony.
Transformation doesn’t have to happen all at once, especially if you’re not ready for it. The beauty of VoIP is that you can take baby steps along this path, so the vision doesn’t have to all be there at the start. In fact, you won’t likely know what’s possible until you start using VoIP, and from there, it’s just a matter of how much transformation you want to make the business stronger. If you’re not sure what that could look like, I’ll provide some examples in my next post, so check back with me soon.
To learn more contact MCC’s Telecom Solutions Division today!