The internet sees a tremendous change in the direction of growth every year. Most of us who were active internet users back in the early 20’s know exactly what I am talking about. Most of the technologies that we use today on a daily basis, without which the business world will not be able to function today, was actually just limited to imagination less than a decade ago. And the VoIP industry with its business phone systems was no different.
Business phone systems have remarkably grown and developed over the last few years. A lot of new features have been added and old glitches have been fixed. The VoIP technology has really taken off and hit the telecom industry hard. It has quickly transformed from something that is nice to have to something that you need in order to survive the corporate rat race. Business phone systems are now a valuable company asset that saves both time and money.
Let us look at some numbers
To give you an idea of exactly how big a growth I am talking about here, let us have a look at some statistics. Looking at this decade, the numbers are a proof of VoIP domination in the telecom sector. Since 2010, the number of smart phone users in the United States have grown from 62.6 million to almost 266 million. Statistically speaking, that is an increased growth of more than 400%. I know, right? It’s crazy how smart phones have taken over the world.
As the number of smart phone users increased, people started to become more tech savvy. They were now trying to find cheaper communication solutions not just for individual use, but also for domestic and commercial use. This meant that those pricy landlines were no longer welcome in homes or offices. Companies were now making calls and sending messages through various software applications. Thus came the need for the modern business phone systems.
After the smart phone explosion, VoIP found its way into both homes and offices. The number of residential VoIP connections in 2010 was 28 million. By 2019, the number had shot up to almost 77 million. On the other hand, the number of business VoIP phone systems jumped up from 6 million in 2010 to almost 42 million in 2019. Collectively, this is a 680% growth in the VoIP industry.
And it’s not like we did not see this coming. Even in the beginning of the last decade, several unpolished attempts at the technology were made. For example, consider Google Voice, which was launched by Google in 2009. Other competitors like Skype were also on the verge of rise at that period of time.
What did the VoIP industry look like a decade ago?
Keep in mind that VoIP is a software service. However, back in the year 2010, business phone systems were treated as a hardware product. More importance was given to the hardware or the physical phone models rather than the software itself. Established VoIP companies like Vonage or Ring Central were not selling the VoIP software service back then. What they were advertising and selling was modern hardware – an entire trending office phone system along with maybe fax machines or other components.
A major challenge faced by VoIP and business phone systems earlier was that most people had no idea what it was or how it worked. It is not like the technology was unheard of, but at that time it was yet to prove its worth and make a mark in the industry. A lot of influencers took it upon themselves to explain the concept to the common folk in layman terms so that they could easily understand the applications and uses of business phone systems.
A lot of other free calling softwares that could be simply opened on a browser were also being released at the time. Many people saw that as a better alternative to paid VoIP services. And even though VoIP was prevalent and in use at the time, it was not as feature rich as it is today. It had only a few limited features that did help businesses, but did not impact businesses as significantly as it does today.
One of the important features of business phone systems at the time was that whenever a customer calls, the call is directed to whichever customer care attendant is free. Even if no one is free, the system records a message from the caller so that the query can be addressed once someone is free. These things were not possible earlier when all phones were manned by humans. Another significant advantage that came with VoIP was that call costs were significantly reduced. In case of traditional phone lines, data travels over transmission lines which is costly whereas VoIP calls are routed over the internet, which proves to be cheaper.
The automated phone attendant answered calls and routed customer calls depending on their query. For example, callers could choose whether they wanted to contact the sales team or the customer service team and so on. Callers were given the option of choosing the language they were familiar with and the automated assistant would then shift to their preferred language. These were the only major features and benefits of business phone systems back in 2010.
So all in all, one can say that the VoIP phone system was still in the development stage back then. It was yet to take a concrete form and offer a rich and diverse feature set that would completely change the face of the telecom industry.
What does the VoIP industry look like now?
I don’t think I need to elaborate on the influence of VoIP in recent times. Everywhere you look, you will see people staring into their smart phones. Even people of the lowest strata of society carry smart phones with them. Why? Because it has become an object of absolute necessity rather than a luxury. Needless to say, with the growth of the smart phone industry, the VoIP industry took off as well.
Presently, the modern business phone systems are loaded with features. They have so much to offer that they have become essential assets for every business. The old features that were launched in 2010 have been modified and upgraded and brand new features have been added to suit modern needs.
Another change that can be observed is the difference in marketing schemes. Several VoIP providers have come up over the years, each offering the same software with slight tweaks here and there. Service providers no longer need to explain to the people what business phone systems are and what they can achieve. Unlike previous years, people are now aware of what the system is and how it works. What is advertised now is the brand of the service provider and why customers should choose them over other providers.
As opposed to 2010, service providers are now looking to make money, a lot of money. Companies are now trying to squeeze as much money out of consumers as they can. Trends like price hikes and long term contracts are followed by almost all VoIP providers.
However, to justify the exorbitant prices that business phone systems now come at, a lot of features have been introduced. The installation cost and hardware cost has almost come down to nil because VoIP systems no longer require a particular hardware device. The consumer pays only for what he uses. Different service providers offer different schemes and offers from which the customers can choose and pick the one that is most suitable for them. They only pay for the features that they use.
Another major development in the VoIP sector is international calling. Global business connections have become so much easier thanks to VoIP. Earlier, companies setting up branches abroad incurred crazy telephone bills every month, trying to maintain an efficient line of communication between all branches. However, calls made using business phone systems are essentially free, even calls that are made overseas. The user only has to pay for the data connection that is required to support heavy VoIP calls.
Apart from these major boosts that have given pace to the VoIP industry, there have also been some minor adjustments to these business phone systems. The call quality is remarkably better and the connection is seamless and uninterrupted.
During the last decade, the world has seen many such potential game-changers that died out before getting the chance to shine, many trends that never really caught on. However, the VoIP industry battled its way through the decade and went on to completely change the way business communications are done. The question now is that are business phone systems here to stay? Or is it going to be beaten by some new technology that will drive it out of business?
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