The face of corporate IP telephony has changed considerably within the past few years. No longer simply concerned with pursuing cost savings and efficiencies by amalgamating voice and data infrastructures into one integrated network, VoIP providers are seeking to enable customers to leverage their telephony implementations across a wide range of products and services.
Unified communications (UC), integration and collaboration are today's driving forces. Businesses want to be able to offer cost-effective and seamless communication to all users, regardless of their role within the company or the tools through which they work. It's not just about desk phones running XML applications, but rather extensions following users across multiple platforms — business software, collaborative applications, smartphones and traditional base stations.
This change has been made possible by the infrastructure work implemented by VoIP providers throughout the 1990's — VoIP technology is firmly established as a robust and scalable communications platform over the traditional PSTN model. The recent changes have been driven by the constant merging of disparate technologies — mobile phones are fully web-enabled with high-bandwidth data pipes, and business applications are far more web-aware than has previously been the case. Such an environment is highly conducive to tight systems integration, and a more seamless user experience across platforms.
Although Australia's broadband infrastructure has come under sustained criticism in recent years, it has surprisingly not proven to be a barrier in the take-up of IP telephony. Australia has one of the highest levels of VoIP market penetration globally.
Businesses looking to implement a new VoIP solution or expand their existing investments are certainly spoiled for choice, and the benefits are not only available to the big end of town. Small- and medium-sized companies stand to gain significantly from a data-centric telephony system, and most providers have a solution that can meet the needs of five users or 50,000.