Anyone who has worked on VoIP can vouch that big telecoms are losing their relevance in their current day and age. Services like a PRI (Primary Rate Interface) or POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines or even using SIP through telephone providers are practices of the yesteryears. It is relatively easy these days just to adopt an internet SIP provider who is much more dynamic and user-friendly. The feature stacks of such services have changed from what we used to get from AT&T, Cox Communications, and other big telecom providers. We have completely moved away from our PRIs, and all of our phone services are completed through an internet SIP provider called Telnyx, and it has been a significant change; not just from the usability standpoint but also from the cost standpoint. Now we know exactly where we are going to be charged. For example, previously, we were being charged $500 a month per PRI. But with VoIP, we are part of a model where we are billed by the minute with a visible rate deck. These seem to be very promising changes when you want to leverage VoIP to offer your consumers best in class customer experience.
My take on these trends and the challenges
With the rise of cell phones and mobile devices over the last 5-10 years, desk phones have lost their importance as a critical business tool for frontline workers. On the other hand, we are getting things off of our infrastructure and giving it to third-party providers for their SLA and large network teams to fix and maintain the VoIP connections. However, I believe the appeal to move desk phones to a cloud-based service solution from on-premise solution works like a trap. Because, the monetary cost that is associated with that change tends to be high. If the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) providers are not offering any additional value additions, companies might end up adding unnecessary overheads to the bottom line.
Now, coming to the challenges in the VoIP space, we have not experienced any hurdles which could not be overcome. With proper QoS and CoS policies in place, there are not many significant obstructions in the path of leveraging VoIP that can slow down this change.
The relevance of VoIP and future implications
Some might point towards a mellowed down utilization of VoIP. However, it varies from business to businesses. For companies that do not require constant communication through phone, the hype around VoIP is settling down. However, in the contact center environment, where phones are the most important aspect, they offer the breeding ground for disruption and rapid advancements through VoIP.
Identifying an ideal solution provider and managing the change
The most important thing to do while selecting an ideal solution provider, is to listen to the end users and understand their needs. Personally, I am a big proponent of going with providers who are best of the breed. Also, it is better to go with a provider that is hyper-focused on the services you seek. Big telecom companies like Century Link, AT&T, and Cisco provide similar VoIP services through acquisitions. However, this is only a part of their whole service offering. So they might not cover all aspects of that very specific service, and it will fail to give businesses the necessary edge that they were seeking through VoIP.
The inception of AI in the VoIP space
Since the beginning, AI has been a flashy technology. However, organizations that intend to test AI-related technology need to be cautious in certain aspects. Consumers are smart, and the current generation that grew up in the technology era can easily distinguish between an AI and a real person. We have seen that most of the time; customers or end users prefer to talk to a real person for issue resolutions. Because, real-life issues do not always follow binary rule sets fed into AI systems. So, to provide the best customer service experience, companies need to look at a simplified approach to tackle AI, particularly in VoIP space. Otherwise, it will add layers of complexity to the process and result in frustration among end users.
Leadership principles and fostering a work culture in the organization
I think promoting a good work culture for an organization starts as early as the hiring stage of new employees. Organizations need to look at people that work and collaborate well together within their departmental structure. It is also helpful to give people flexibility and a level of autonomy to think outside the box and learn from their mistakes. Along with that, it is essential for IT companies not to get siloed. With specialty systems and teams, it can be hard to avoid this situation. However, internal knowledge sharing can help remedy that. This way it becomes easier for end users also; with 'non-siloed' teams at your disposal, you have multiple people to support end users, and that is going to be the game changer for your organization.