Two communication dynamics have taken hold in the 21st Century. VoIP solutions and remote workers have emerged to address the needs of our new burgeoning mobile society.
As small-to-medium-sized businesses traverse today’s digital landscape, they are experimenting with a good number of new tools that interface with VoIP, including cloud-computing, artificial intelligence, software-defined applications and social networking.
More Are Working Remotely
In 2016, the number of workers telecommuting rose to 37 percent, as more and more employers tapped into the flexibility and productivity benefits of the new “work-from-anywhere” work ethic. The rise of the remote worker has prompted businesses to find solutions as to how best to communicate in this new milieu.
According to FlexJobs, an online service for flexible, telecommuting, and freelance work opportunities, we’re seeing nothing less than a rejection of the traditional office workspace.
A full 76 percent of respondents to a recent FlexJobs survey said that, when they need to get important work done, they avoid the office.
Out of 2,600 respondents, 50 percent reported that their home is their venue of choice for productivity. Another 12 percent said they would choose a coffee shop, co-working space, library, or other types of space, in place of the traditional office.
Demographic Breakdown of the 2,600 Respondents:
- Ages: 19-29 (10 percent), 30-49 (54 percent), 50-59 (24 percent), 60+ (12 percent)
- Education: high school degree or equivalent (3 percent), some college but no degree (16 percent), associate or bachelor degree (49 percent), graduate degree (32 percent)
- Career level: entry-level (9 percent), experienced (58 percent), manager or senior level manager (33 percent)
VoIP Benefits On and Offsite
For starters, when companies are confronted with the choice of upgrading or replacing an outdated phone system (aka POT), they are gravitating to what is best for their business. And today, Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology has not only become an accepted standard of business service, it’s become one that provides them the greatest productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and cost-savings.
Utilizing a VoIP service, businesses obtain access to a wealth of robust features that can make a small operation appear like a larger enterprise, without investing in a major capital outlay. For example, with a VoIP service such as Telzio, you can use an automated attendant to route calls to different people in your organization — no matter if they’re in an office, at home or on the road.
Even if you only have a dozen members on staff and another dozen freelancers working remotely, your auto attendant can send callers to the person who has the required expertise to answer pertinent questions – and it will appear to callers as if they’re being routed to a specific department within your organization.
Additionally, advanced call routing, call forwarding and conference calling can provide your team with enhanced communication tools not previously available. These features can work in conjunction with a live receptionist or possibly eliminate the need to hire one altogether.
VoIP for small businesses also provides other cost benefits. You incur minimal initial capital outlay for equipment. And, because your service provider performs all the heavy lifting of developing, installing and maintaining the VoIP system, you no longer have to maintain a physical office or incur costs to manage an in-house phone system with a third-party telecom company.
Another important feature for all businesses, but especially those that are expanding, is access to call detail reports. With VoIP, you can gather and interpret information about your call traffic. Examples of useful information include calling patterns – what time, day and called parties received the most traffic volume. This data can assist with whether you staff up or down, or take on or let go of new freelancers.
AI and Telecommunications
Remember learning about the Industrial Revolution in school and how ‘machines’ in the 17th and 18th centuries changed people’s way of life as well as their methods of manufacturing? Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population steadily increased over time, versus the ups and downs of the past.
However, as the manufacturing sector is slowly diminishing in the United States today, the populace is witnessing an in-between phase where the previous movement is being supplanted by another. I’m referring to a significant shift that will make what went before during the Industrial Revolution appear very primitive.
Artificial Intelligence will engage most of the machines of the past to not only produce, but to ‘think’ about what they’re producing. And you’re witnessing it all around you, as we speak.
With internet phones, your landline as a stationary device became archaic. In it’s place we have smartphones. But with artificial intelligence, in their place, we will soon have implanted phone chips in our ears where our hand devices, like the POT [plain old telephone] of the past, will become obsolete.
For the remote working crowd, all our systems: email, CRM, calendar, virtual assistants and others will all communicate in a unified way. Calls will be screened based on these systems, whether we are a vendor or customer. Our future VoIP service will be collecting data regularly so that our new telecommunications will be making smart decisions for us.
Automated customer service will be streamlined significantly in the future, where new VoIP features will be handled by artificial intelligence.
When customers call, they will be greeted by their first name, and asked questions pertaining to their account. The system will be able to evaluate if they are high value customers to your organization, and will be able to have full conversations responding to complex queries, making account modification, and providing accurate feedback.
Stay Adaptable with VoIP
Most freelancers will opt for a cloud based VoIP service like Telzio. What this means is that your internet phone system is hosted offsite by your provider. It’s an excellent way to have an advanced phone system, without incurring any upfront cost or investment for onsite equipment.
As VoIP continues to grow, we’ll see enhanced technology making our lives easier. For instance, imagine a world where a contact can click a link on your social media page that opens a VoIP call with you or where it’s easy to integrate your cloud-based calendar or notifications with VoIP.
The Future is Here
“Flexibility” is the new mantra of the remote worker. The self-employed need flexible work solutions that travel with them, and few telecommunications options are more flexible than VoIP services like Telzio.
VoIP communication travels with you and can be set up to ring to your mobile phone. Softphones can be set up to ring on your laptop, or hard phones can easily connect to computers with USB plugs. In addition, add-ons like conference bridges can help you connect with others, and easily provide the ability to scale when you’re ready to hire or collaborate with your team and freelancers.
VoIP is rapidly becoming an integral part of our lives online, both for work and pleasure. As the number of VoIP providers and users continues to grow, we’ll see a lot of the enhancements we discussed today. It’s speculation, somewhat as to exactly how these new developments will unfold, but we can expect to see most of them propelled by the sheer size of the growth of VoIP and the remote workforce.
Ron is part of the marketing team at Telzio, covering everything from tips and tech for growing businesses to customer success stories for the Telzio blog.