While working on some telephony projects recently, I was pretty much surprised how most people are unaware of the revolutionary changes in the technology in the past decade.
Many (if not most) people, including IT engineers, still think that IP Telephony is about saving on long-distance calls. Some of them also know that it’s about saving on desktop cabling.
Actually it’s much more than that.
1. Low entry cost for office telephony.
With the rise of good-quality, open-source telephony products, such as Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, and a bunch of UI tools on top of them, a small or medium business is not any more facing the need to spend $10000+ on an office telephony system.
An IP PBX can be built in-house, with commodity hardware and open-source software components. Even better, one can rent a hosted PBX if the broadband connection permits that. There are also lots of solutions for non-IT businesses on the market.
2. Global team infrastructure.
It is now quite common even for small businesses to have remote employees across half the globe. Also the local telecommunication infrastructure is not always readily available. In some countries, international calls are still ridiculously expensive.
Remote workers can use IP phones to connect directly to your IP PBX. But sometimes the Internet connection at home is not good enough, or your team member is not always at their work place. There are still good and low-cost ways to connect.
For example, DIDWW can offer you a PSTN gateway in remote country, and place the incoming calls directly to your IP PBX. The SIP Broker allows the same service free of charge, with some extra digits to dial to reach you from their gateways.
3. Voice applications.
Most people still know only two or three voice applications: the voice mail, the conference bridges, and the interactive voice menus. Tor those three, the adoption cost has dropped dramatically. Now one can build any of them at the cost of hardware and an engineer’s hourly work.
But there’s more than that.
One can build voice applications which were too expensive or impossible with traditional PBXes.
For example, employees can choose themselves how they are reachable in the best way. They can manage their own reachability and presence. Calls can be sent to multiple IP and PSTN phones at the same time. On-call support engineers can login themselves and indicate that hotline calls should be directed to them. Voice mail can be connected to a ticketing system and create new tickets with MP3 attachments.
those are the applications which I have personally implemented. There are certainly more.