And just like that, 2019 will soon be history. The digitization of communication shows no signs of slowing down; the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) industry is expected to grow to at least USD 55 billion by 2025. Certain trends within the VoIP market have been intensifying over the past few years, including the consolidation of online communication technologies, increasing mobility of VoIP software, growing security concerns, and the slow death of traditional telephones.
Once upon a time, ‘business phone systems’ were reserved for enterprises with hundreds of physical phones. However, VoIP technology has made business phone calling highly accessible for small and giant companies alike. It allows users to make voice calls via the internet—instead of using old school landline telephones or mobile phones that rely on cellular networks.
Heading into 2020, we have compiled a list of the 8 most important VoIP trends to keep an eye on as 2020 approaches. Those trends are:
- Increasing Popularity of UCaaS
- AI Technology for VoIP
- 5G for Mobile
- Looming Security Concerns
- Integrated In-App Communications
- Increasing Mobility
- Goodbye to traditional telephones
- Competition or Consolidation with Video Chat Services
#1 Increasing Popularity of UCaaS
2020 will see the further consolidation of communication technologies into single unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platforms. These platforms have underlying VoIP technology, but offer way more than just voice calling capabilities. Other features include video/web conferencing, instant messaging, faxing services, and team collaboration features (e.g. screen sharing). One large benefit UCaaS brings is the ability to centralize virtually all online communication within one platform. Rather than having to purchase a separate video conferencing tool, instant messaging application, and voice solution, companies can invest in one product that has it all. The other main benefit of UCaaS is that it’s all cloud-based, meaning users can access these platforms from anywhere with a strong internet connection.
#2 AI Technology for VoIP
The ability to set up advanced call routing or use auto attendants to handle incoming calls is one reason why many businesses purchase a VoIP solution. These services can help speed up communications as a whole, and optimize call handling. AI has the potential to make these incredibly useful functions even better. AI can help create smarter digital voice assistants, ones that can conduct real-time sentiment analysis that can inform agents whether a customer is happy, angry, or confused before they’re even on the call with them. Improving intelligent, or skills-based, call routing is another way AI can boost VoIP capabilities. AI has other potential applications for voice software too, such as using Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to translate voice or video calls in real-time.
#3 5G for Mobile
5G is coming to mobile, which means it’s headed for VoIP too. There are a few major impacts 5G promises to have for VoIP providers and their customers. Two of the most important areas of concern for VoIP is call latency, which can lead to dropped calls or calls cutting in and out, and quality of service. 5G will improve both of these. In terms of call latency, VoIP services relying on 4G networks can take 10 milliseconds to connect to the network, while 5G is expected to take less than 1 millisecond. 5G will also produce a better quality of service (QoS) for VoIP in several areas, including much lower latency, 100% network availability, increased throughput, and more bandwidth for sensor devices.
#4 Looming Security Concerns
VoIP services give users another layer of privacy and security by providing them with a separate business phone number so they don’t have to give out personal numbers. However, like all other internet-enabled technology, VoIP software is also vulnerable to cyber attacks. Cyber attacks are increasing, with perpetrators using a range of tactics including phishing, network intrusion, system misconfiguration, stolen records/information, etc. Businesses and organizations should consider internet-based security concerns before purchasing a VoIP, and talk with vendors about what measures they have in place to guard against these tactics. This is especially important for organizations operating in highly regulated industries (e.g. Healthcare, Defense, Pharmaceuticals, Finance), or businesses that have large volumes of sensitive information.
#5 Integrated In-app Communications
The convenience of integrated VoIP and video calling capabilities, along with other in-app communications, is one reason why UCaaS has become so popular. Few things are more annoying than having to toggle back and forth between different applications each time you want to message a coworker, host an online meeting, or make a voice call. But a platform with integrated in-app communications means users can do this all within one platform. Over the past few years, developers have worked to make this the new norm in the unified communications market. And going forward, companies will expect to have fully integrated in-app capabilities (e.g. voice calls, video conferencing, messaging) baked into their UCaaS platforms.
#6 Increasing Mobility
More and more VoIP providers now have mobile applications for both iOS and Android phones, along with desktop/softphone applications. This means that it will be even easier for users to connect to their companies VoIP network while traveling, or working remotely. However, businesses that issue mobile devices to their customers haven’t had the tools needed to track conversations with customers on mobile. For example, features like call recording, CRM integrations, and caller ID haven’t been available. But some vendors are planning to address this in 2020, and make it possible for businesses to gain more insight into how their employees are interacting with potential customers and clients via their mobile devices.
#7 Goodbye to traditional telephones
Traditional landline telephones, also called analog phones, have been decreasing in popularity for a while. In 2004, about 90% of households used a landline phone, but as of 2018—that number has been cut in half. This has been accompanied by an increase in the number of households that only have cell phones, which increased by 50% between 2004-2018. What does this mean for VoIP? Now that more and more people are relying on mobile phones for communication, one implication for VoIP is that customers will expect better VoIP mobile applications. A majority of VoIP providers already offer mobile apps. But in 2020, these will be seen as table stakes rather than a bonus feature.
#8 Competition or Consolidation with Video Chat Services
One last trend to be aware of as 2020 comes closer is how the video chat services and VoIP market will evolve. The main question is: will vendors that provide these services but heads, or will the trend of consolidation for online communication vendors continue? We’ve already seen a fair amount of vendor consolidation in the unified communications space. However, popular video chat services such as FaceTime and Facebook Messenger still provide competition for VoIP software, even those that have integrated web conferencing capabilities. One of the main draws of these video chat services is that they’re free, as long as you own an Apple device or have a Facebook account. As 2020 unfolds, we’ll get a better picture of whether there will be a stand-off between video chat services and VoIP, or increasing consolidation between the two.
If you’re thinking of purchasing VoIP services in the new year, check out this article that details 5 telltale signs your business is ready for a voice solution.
Or if you’re ready to dive into researching voice solutions, check out our VoIP software page for in depth reviews of each VoIP product you’re considering.