07 Jun 2012
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Quality, not cost now driving VoIP uptake

By Mike Borgfeldt

With local businesses now in the full swing of 2012 and busy with the start of the new financial year, there has never been a better time to evaluate current processes and take stock of the business strategies that are working for you – and those that aren’t.

It can be daunting for businesses, particularly smaller operations, to keep up to date with the latest technologies, and even more challenging to deploy them. Having said this, in today’s competitive economic environment it is all the more crucial for businesses to accept the challenge and adopt technologies that allow them to become more agile, productive, and customer centric.

While VoIP has been on the IT agenda for some time, we are now seeing the focus of this technology shift to become less about bandwidth and cost savings and more about the voice quality that can be achieved. Businesses are no longer restricted by the fixed rate nature of PSTN and can take full advantage of wideband audio technology.

On the consumer side, this can be seen in the exploding trend toward the use of Skype – the Microsoft-owned company claims that there are around 30 million people online at peak times using this platform to communicate. And the reason so many people are flocking to Skype is not only because of its cost effectiveness compared to traditional forms of long-distance voice communication, but also increasingly for the high voice quality it has the potential to deliver.

While the consumer VoIP market has been primarily driven by services such as Skype, businesses can also use VoIP to effectively communicate with clear, high quality sound.

A growing issue faced by businesses today is the trend toward Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). As workers become more mobile and are using multiple mobile devices, IT managers need to ensure workers can rely on quality audio that is required to be productive, no matter what device they choose to use.

This issue is further magnified with the increase in the number of workers both here in the Australia/New Zealand region and around the world who spend much of their time working from outside the confines of their office.

Furthermore, a recent study by Frost & Sullivan predicted that the unified communications (UC) market would continue to grow steadily over the next few years, a trend spearheaded by companies’ desire to cut down on operational and travel costs, the rise in numbers of mobile workers and the increased use of enterprise tablets, softphones and smartphones.

According to Frost & Sullivan, continued innovation in the communications endpoint market is likely to result in greater choice, flexibility, and cost savings for IT buyers and their end users. While desktop phones will remain the primary voice communications endpoint for many years to come, softphones and smartphones are gaining ground in the workplace.

The advent of enhanced audio quality now possible with VoIP can only be maximised if the user has a quality device. As a world leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of a broad range of hands-free communications solutions, Jabra sees the impressive voice quality now afforded by VoIP services and the increasing use of UC as key technologies that can help businesses provide a greater service to their customers, while keeping costs to a minimum.

Businesses that choose to take the plunge and invest in VoIP and UC technologies should consider the following when choosing a headset:

• Is the headset easy-to-use and able to seamlessly connect to a PBX, KTS or IP telephony system, as well as interoperate with a number of telephony vendors?• Does it provide a solid return on investment?• Does the headset vendor offer the necessary service and support for your business?• Is the headset durable and will it stand up to the demands of your work environment?• Does the headset have noise-cancelling features that allow the user to hear clearly, even in a noisy environment?

Fulvio Toniotti is ANZ managing director for Jabra. This article originally appeared in the May issue of IT Brief.

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