OnSIP has provided a hosted PBX solution for almost a decade. In that time, we’ve experienced first hand the business VoIP adoption curve. We listened as the discussion changed from “Is business VoIP reliable enough?" to “Is a hosted PBX or an on-premise IP-PBX solution right for my business?”
Today, the market for business VoIP services is mature, yet still expanding. Infonetics forecasted market growth from $24B in 2013 to $35B in 2018 (a 46% increase). We are no longer receiving young adoption questions regarding whether VoIP is fit for business. That's a given. The conversation has graduated to comparing business VoIP providers based on price point, common features, and reliability.
I wonder when this will shift.
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The ability to have a voice conversation is a vital need in any business, and there are several contexts in which we do. We make cold calls to sell products. We make periodic calls to check in with a team member on the status of a project. We make prepared calls to connect with a contact with whom we’d like to network. We make follow up calls to further a business conversation with a prospect we met at an event. We make unscheduled calls to schedule an appointment. We schedule calls to meet with multiple team members actively working as a group. Given a wide array of industries and call content, enumerating all communications scenarios would be a challenge. Yet, we use virtually one tool to address them all— the basic voice phone call to and from a PBX.
We’ve been advocating a relatively new technology, Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC), which enables real-time communications (voice, video, messaging, data) to flow between browsers. We have leveraged WebRTC to enhance our business VoIP offering and noticed that this technology has made its way to telecom conferences and expos. If you’ve attended one recently, you may have seen the common demo: a simple video conferencing application. This has been a visual way to exemplify WebRTC. It can be leveraged to replace existing video conferencing solutions, which may cause problems for the already struggling dedicated telepresence and video conferencing systems market.
However, WebRTC's crescendo in the business VoIP industry isn't going to be about a more affordable video conferencing solution. It’s about WebRTC empowering developers to create experiences that cater to the context of our business communications and are embedded in the applications we use every day— CRM, project management, reservation, payment, and document management systems, etc.
What will happen to our concept of one-size-fits-all business VoIP solutions in the face of WebRTC? I anticipate that one day soon, the conversation when searching for a business communications solution will not contain terms like "hosted PBX" at all, but rather— What can you do to help me sell / support / schedule / collaborate better than I already do today?” With billions of phone numbers in use, the state of mobile data coverage, and the pace that the telecom market moves, I don't anticipate technology disruption overnight. But, things change.