Landline use has been in the decline for more than a decade, dropping 5% for the United States from 2005-2013 alone. According to NPR, that drop in landline use has corresponded with a massive surge in mobile broadband subscribers. But cellphones are not the only way a business and its executives have to keep in touch with teams.
Worksites have become just as mobile as our devices, and it’s common for employers to telecommute (sometimes from different countries) which present several logistical challenges. For example, how would you gather all employees in one space, on a secure connection and with room for the many connections a mid-sized business could potentially require?
Conferences calls filled this niche once, but technology has given way to greater alternatives that offer a wider range of collaborative benefits.
A landline really only serves one purpose, which is to make phone calls, and until recently it was a secure way to communicate. It took time for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to catch up to the landline, but far less time to surpass this technology. One of the big advantages is how calls are charged. According to MegaPath, VoIP utilizes cloud technology that reduces the need for customer support and lowers costs when calls are made between businesses. There may not be technology to lease, which reduces monthly costs as well.
Those savings become clearer when a business has multiple offices, or even many departments. Anytime employees need to communicate with one another, VoIP offers a secure and cost-effective means for doing so.
VoIP also has memory, meaning it can remember voicemails and store messages in the cloud. It can also handle call routing and various forms of automated phone correspondence. Conference calls are possible on VoIP, with the option to record and sometimes transcribe a call.
Sales calls have become far more interactive in the past decade thanks to software that allows users to share a desktop. IT departments have long utilized remote desktop access to make repairs or run certain maintenance functions, but this technology allows for even further interactivity. Sharing screens with a prospect provides the sales person with valuable visual aids to help close the deal. Seeing is sometimes more effective than simply telling, and services like Join.Me have grown in popularity as crucial sales tools.
What many of these new services have in common is the ability to do more than just make phone calls. Often times, even cloud storage or CRM services come with some form of collaborative software. Almost everything has become a tool for networking if used properly.
Some important tools to look for when considering upgrading your landline include:
- Document storage: storage space in general is a major benefit
- Video calling: Skype can do this, but some services promise 720p definition
- Webinar capabilities: not just hosting, the tools to plan a webinar and manage guests or invites
- Uploading documents: hosting and displaying important documents for a meeting
- Sharing: Recording a live stream for distribution has become an important tool in networking
Future of Networking
VoIP will continue to play a central role in business communication, but other tools have and will continue to arise that solve various problems VoIP does not. Video is a good example. Face time is very important in the business world, especially when making a presentation or outlining goals. CEO interviews and announcements are important for morale boosting, and VoIP doesn’t solve the problem of sharing those either.
VoIP also takes a chunk out of network bandwidth, so broadband must evolve in order to handle the traffic load. VoIP is highly dependent on connection speed, which makes text-based communication still a valid part of business life. In the present, it’s common to see employees schedule meetings over chat and communicate by video or voice over the Internet. The future will only further integrate these technologies as infrastructure improves.