Voice-over-IP (VoIP) is at the root of many of the more advanced communications and collaboration applications that have been deployed in the past year. But a survey conducted jointly by Spiceworks and CenturyLink suggests there is plenty of room for improvement in terms of the impact these new services are making on organizations.
The survey of 250 IT decision makers finds that 59 percent of respondents currently use on-premises VoIP solutions, and 65 percent are using hosted VoIP solutions. Clearly, there is a significant percentage employing both. The issue the survey uncovered that will get the attention of most managed service providers is that only 46 percent of respondents were “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their current VoIP solution. Another 29 percent were satisfied. But a full quarter (25 percent) were either “somewhat” or “not at all” satisfied with their current VoIP solutions.
The most common VoIP mistake
Eric Nowak, director of product management for CenturyLink, says the primary reason many organizations wind up being less than satisfied is that end users don’t take full advantage of the capabilities of the VoIP solution implemented. Many of the organizations had expectations that the unified communications (UC) these systems enable using, such as videoconferencing or instant messaging, would make their teams more productive, explains Nowak.
“But a lot of time, the end users just wind up using the system to make phone calls,” says Nowak.
25% of IT decision makers are “some what” or “not at all” satisfied with their current #VoIP solution
Nowak says this can usually be attributed to a lack of end-user training. Most VoIP solutions provide access to a broad swath of UC capabilities. But unless training on how to use those capabilities happens within the first 30 days of a solution being installed, the odds of the organization that paid for that system becoming disenchanted with it substantially increase, says Nowak.
The future of VoIP
As a category, UC is red hot. But competition is also fierce. If 25 percent of the organizations that have adopted a VoIP solution are less than satisfied, there’s a good chance many customers will switch platforms in 2018. They may be disenchanted with VoIP in general. But over time many of them will see how VoIP systems are transforming the way other organizations work. The easiest thing for them to do will be start over using a new platform, rather than admit they failed to think through the entire implementation process.
Nowak expects that going forward most VoIP solutions will be delivered via the cloud. The rate at which new innovations are being added to cloud services is too fast to ignore, says Nowak. The opportunity for MSPs will be to help organizations not only make that transition, but also train employees on how to get the most out of those systems.
Nowak says the reason most organizations make the switch to a VoIP system is not to save costs, but rather to provide a better experience for their employees or customers. Small business owners are especially enamored with being able to use their mobile phones as an “office phone” wherever they happen to be located, adds Nowak.
In general, the transition to VoIP has gone as well as any other major technology shift. But, as is often the case, it’s also clear there’s still plenty of room for improvement to the UC experience.