In the not-so-distant past, it was nearly impossible for a small- and medium-size business (SMB) to get the same business communications capabilities as a larger enterprise.
It's not that they didn’t want these capabilities: SMBs know that they have little room for error. A missed customer contact or a miscommunication between employees translates into losses on the bottom line. It was a matter of dollars and cents, however: Big companies’ vast resources seemed to give them a lock on the kinds of communications applications that delivered enhanced customer service, increased revenues and lower costs.
Today, it’s a different story. More SMBs are learning that merging data and voice traffic onto a single Internet protocol (IP) telephony network (often known as voice over IP, or VoIP) not only saves money, but makes tools that improve customer service and solve a variety of business problems accessible.
VoIP sets the stage for SMB access to advanced communications tools such as instant messaging, contact centers, audio and video conferencing, application sharing, co-browsing on the Web and mobility. Simply put, IP-based telephony enables people, networks and business applications to work together--when they need to--from wherever they happen to be.
VoIP is effective because it erases traditional boundaries. Instead of separate lines for voice and all the data services, a VoIP network lets voice and data travel together. This enables authorized users to connect to a variety of communications capabilities, whether they’re in their office, the stock room or working from home.
Access Markets International (AMI) Partners says that VoIP spending by SMBs worldwide will grow more than 40 percent annually and exceed $4.5 billion by 2008. Overall, spending on IT and telecommunications among SMBs worldwide will increase more than seven percent annually and exceed $1.1 trillion by then.