VoIP isn't the wave of the future in networking—it's the present. According to Persistence Market Research, the global market for these services is projected to leap from $94 billion this year to nearly $195 billion by 2024. But for most users, and SMBs in particular, transitioning to the VoIP standard isn't as simple as flipping a switch.
Though 70% of SMB respondents to a 2015 study by Edgewater Networks and Metaswitch Networks stated that they expect to purchase IP communications within two years, challenges remain in the interim for those looking to make their initial deployments. So, what's driving the current wave of growth in the VoIP market, and what needs to happen in the coming years to meet or exceed that $195 billion figure?
How We Got Here
An ever-increasing emphasis on cloud-based communications has allowed VoIP to thrive: as the Persistence report finds, the network uniformity and interoperability of the cloud has driven down costs of VoIP implementation. This has made the transition achievable and attractive for an ever-increasing number of users willing to pay monthly subscription fees.
VoIP growth is particularly strong in geographic regions that had been under-served by quality ISPs in the recent past. As consumer choice has expanded, so has VoIP adoption—in many areas, particularly those outside the major urban markets, IP communications have just become feasible for the first time.
It doesn't just come down to availability and cost, however: consumer trust in service providers is a key driver of current market activity. One expert from Edgewater Networks maintains that prospective buyers don't really need to be told more about the latest technologies themselves—widely available information on the web is more than sufficient—as much as how it can take their business to a new level of voice quality, customer service, and security. It isn't enough to just offer a quality product; the what isn't driving the big revenue as much as the why.
Where We're Going
As it stands, IP communications purchases are mostly made by larger firms-- the 2015 study by Edgewater Neworks and Metaswitch reports that only 25% of SMBs with fewer than 100 employees have adopted IP. It must be acknowledged, then, that very real obstacles exist within the wider VoIP adoption process that must be met head-on. So, how can SMBs rise to the occasion?
It follows that large firms with significant market share are more able to dive right into the VoIP era than smaller organizations by virtue of simply possessing more resources, as well as quicker adoption of IP-friendly cloud communications. For SMBs, there has been real resistance to embracing, for instance, proprietary VoIP technology that could run the risk of garnering the dreaded “legacy” label before fully justifying its cost. But thanks to an expanding market for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment, that risk is falling away. This means that SMBs won't have to miss out on the spoils.
Additionally, VoIP administrators must be prepared to meet unique information security demands. Hacking threats are real, whether for purposes of plain old extortion or just a laugh. Networks outfitted with intelligent edge solutions, whether serving firms with a few employees or even thousands, will be ready to face these emerging VoIP challenges head-on.
Finally, call quality remains a perceived snag for VoIP implementation. VoLTE, which AT&T currently supports for nearly 30 million customers, bests the current VoIP standard on voice quality, latency, and device compatibility, and can shoulder the burden of larger data volumes. How are SMBs supposed to compete with that? By supporting their own VoIP deployments with granular control., that's how. Edgewater Networks offers a cloud-administered Service Control Center (SCC) with a winning portfolio of real-time monitoring and troubleshooting tools to ensure attractive voice quality even in the midst of network congestion. Revenue figures don't lie: it's the customer experience that's determining how the big money is spent.
Want to learn more on how service providers can ensure that they provide a top-tier VoIP experience? Check out our white paper on Supporting Advanced VoIP Deployments.