Small Business Telephony Trends for 2013
by Reuben Yonatan
As we move past April and into May of 2013, the trends in telephony are taking shape. SMBs are nimble enough to quickly adopt the latest trends. We are seeing a move away from premise-based PBX systems, and a move toward hosted and managed solutions. We are seeing more employees using their smartphones to communicate to colleagues and even to their bosses.
One of the biggest trends is the continuing migration away from on-premise PBXs to cloud-based solutions. Even Digium, which is best known for selling Asterisk-based hardware, has introduced its own cloud -based solution, Switchvox Cloud. Hosted PBX service providers continue to expand and offer consumers more features than traditional PBX and at competitive costs.
Another trend to watch for is the integration of Facebook and Facebook APIs into businesses. Many cloud-based PBX providers integrate Facebook messaging into their address book and chat functions. We are also just seeing the beginnings of Facebook’s proprietary VoIP application. Expect Facebook ID’s to be integrated more into business communications. For small and medium sized businesses in particular, being available through as many communication channels as possible is vital.
A third trend that is emerging is texting for business. According to RingCentral, of all the people who regularly text, 81% use text messaging for business. Of those, over half send 16 or more texts per day. That number is only growing. 82% of those surveyed say that they send more business-related texts than they did the year before. RingCentral is one of the first hosted PBX providers to integrate VoIP with SMS/MMS texting, but they certainly won’t be the last.
Another emerging trend is the growth of Android and Windows Phone at the expense of iOS and Blackberry. With a market share of 51.2 percent, it is safe to say that Google’s Android OS is the clear market winner at present. But Windows Phone is taking off, with a growth of 52%; by contrast, Blackberry is on the endangered species list, with a drop of 81% sales. iOS is, as Chicago Sun-Times reporter Andy Ihnatko pointed out, a phone designed during the George W. Bush administration. There may be nowhere for Apple to go but down, as good as they are.
A fifth trend to look for is an increase in sound quality for the bandwidth, which will precede better conference call technology. In April of 2013, India-based Tata Communications, the world leader in wholesale voice termination, has announced an expansion of their HD-voice capabilities to international calls. Skype announced in September of 2012 that it was releasing their SILK codec, which is capable of stereo CD quality sound. With codecs like SILK providing CD quality sound across multiple channels, expect the big names in hardware like Cisco and Polycom to add even better conference call and video conference call equipment to their lineup. You’ll be able to hear and see multiple people across multiple screens, and have the voices sound like they are coming right from the seat of the person who is speaking, even though they may be half a world away. Also, expect better sound quality in smartphones.
In conclusion, these are just five of the telephony trends we can expect to emerge or continue in 2013. The biggest game-changer will continue to be the smartphone and tablet. The market for our pockets is hot and getting hotter, with Microsoft stepping up and Blackberry struggling to stay relevant. We are seeing smartphones merge all the capabilities of voice, VoIP, social networking, apps, and SMS. Expect to see more innovation in the crowded smartphone market in the coming months and years.