Voice over Internet Protocol, better known as VoIP, is a type of communication technology that transmits and stores conversational data over the internet, via either hardware or software platforms designed for VoIP. VoIP has existed in some form since 1995, but customer expectations over time have drastically altered the scope of these telephony tools.
Although some companies still rely on PBX (private branch exchange) phone systems or older versions of VoIP, the COVID-19 pandemic and the growth of remote work have further pushed enterprise leaders and VoIP vendors to consider the distributed needs of business users. Read on to learn how VoIP providers are pivoting in areas like security, audiovisuals, external integrations, and platform mobility to better meet current customer communication requirements.
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Rising Security Concerns and Consequent Measures
Security became an even more important enterprise issue with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many new employees left the protective confines of their corporate data centers and began working remotely on whatever network was available. Particularly with VoIP and other internet-based technologies, companies have dealt with increased security breaches, distributed over public and private Wi-Fi networks in dozens of locations. Although concerns with VoIP security remain, several VoIP vendors, and even some VoIP enterprise users, have found solutions to better protect their telecommunications users and business data.
With a growing number of remote workers, even companies that had previously relied on landlines or PBX phone systems turned to VoIP and virtual meeting platforms to make communication possible. But VoIP operates over the internet, making it vulnerable to any other internet behaviors, downloads, and suspicious activities that happen on a user’s chosen network. Especially since many users are not operating on a company network where they can be monitored, a growing number of phishing, malware, and other cyberattacks have been successfully launched against unsuspecting users.
Specifically in the realm of VoIP, voice phishing (vishing) attacks are targeting employees at large companies, using their call behaviors as a gateway into the network. According to a statement released by the Cyber Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2021, vishing attacks are increasing in popularity.
During the phone calls, employees are tricked into logging into a phishing webpage in order to capture the employee’s credentials. After gaining access to the network, many cybercriminals found they had advanced network capabilities, such as the ability to escalate privileges of the compromised employees’ accounts.
This greater access allows malicious actors to move around and make changes to network data and procedures, often causing significant data loss and financial damage. The vishing technique has grown in popularity as most remote users are not using the company’s in-house technological resources and receiving the necessary training to combat these attacks.
Although the attacks have increased in number as well as in damages and severity, VoIP providers and enterprise leaders are leaning more heavily on proven security solutions to protect VoIP users:
- Enterprise leaders are hiring managed security providers to set up and manage their distributed security infrastructure.
- Vendors are offering all-in-one network security solutions, and many enterprises are finding these solutions and applying them to VoIP software.
- Some VoIP providers, such as Microsoft on Microsoft Teams, are in the early stages of launching end-to-end encryption on VoIP calls.
- Companies are establishing or revamping their zero trust policies, providing true security training for all employees that includes data management best practices.
- As a whole, VoIP vendors have improved their security features out-of-the-box; prospective customers should research these security measures before moving forward with a VoIP product.
Adding New Audiovisual Elements
Traditional VoIP systems operate like the phones of yesteryear; they call, they record voice messages, and they save call data for later use. But an increasing number of VoIP providers have either combined forces with other companies or increased their offerings to make VoIP more audiovisual. The scalability of VoIP storage on cloud platforms makes many of the following new telecommunications features possible on VoIP platforms:
- Smart image backgrounds
- Collaborative workspaces and virtual breakout rooms
- Accessible text and audiovisual recording
- Augmented reality integrations
In some cases, VoIP is actually rebranded as unified communications, a term that better encompasses the variety of communications available to users on modern telecommunication platforms.
Emphasis on Third-Party Integrations and APIs
With so many VoIP providers moving toward a cloud-based model, third-party integrations are easier to add and are being offered more than ever before. These integrations help users to do everything from connecting communication data with the marketing and sales pipeline to providing real-time customer assistance, even when employees are off the clock.
VoIP solves varying customer problems and pain points with the following API and integration use cases:
- Including tools that provide AI-powered voice assistants to field calls and customer support integrations, such as Zendesk, to manage customer service ticketing and funneling.
- Providing virtual learning resources and documentation, timed to VoIP and video call sessions.
- Integrating with the marketing and sales pipeline via a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, such as Salesforce or HubSpot; this partnership makes it easier to track and update customer profiles based on call data.
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The Growth of Unified Mobile Communications and UCaaS
Two of the biggest trends in VoIP — which actually make the growth of several of these other trends possible — are the increased reliance on unified mobile communications and unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS). VoIP has always operated over the internet, but as enterprises scale their operations, many have sought out cloud-based and app-based telecommunications platforms so that they can easily increase platform communication offerings, call data storage, monitoring, and cloud security as needed.
- Unified Mobile Communications: More VoIP providers are shifting their platforms toward cloud and mobile applications. This approach offers full customer support, data storage, navigation, and other features from an app on a mobile or desktop device that is easily scalable.
- UCaaS: UCaaS is the logical next step after unified mobile communications, with many vendors offering managed communications platforms to users. Not only is the platform more scalable, but it also offers a more diverse communication experience with video calling, messaging, and screen sharing solutions.
With digital transformation touching every business in some way, VoIP can no longer focus solely on offering internet-enabled calling and saving call data. It must continually evolve to improve the user experience, increase communication options, decrease risk, and make call data more accessible to enterprises.
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