The voice communications space has undergone immense growth and evolution over the past years. With the rising popularity of cloud technologies, today’s voice communications systems have moved past the limits of traditional phone lines and enabled businesses to become more connected than ever. This year, the industry is expected to grow and evolve even further as voice communication leaders continue to innovate through unique technologies and solutions.
But which trends and technologies will continue to disrupt the market this year? Chris Thorson, Polycom’s Sr. Director of Product Marketing, offered some insights on the top trends in the voice space that will impact business in 2017.
1. Acoustic fence technology for noise-free, crystal-clear business conversations
For a business conversation to be effective, it is crucial for both parties to be heard. But when you’re communicating with a client over the phone in a loud environment (say, for instance, in a restaurant or at home with traffic noise in the background), the person on the other end may not be able to hear you properly, leaving both parties frustrated. Thorson said this common dilemma will make acoustic fence technology an important feature in business phone systems this year. According to Thorson, “this technology effectively blocks out background noise when you are using a handset or headset. Think of it like giving your customers a set of noise-cancelling earphones to block out the background noises around you.” This feature is especially useful in areas with large amounts of background noise, such as call centers, manufacturing facilities, restaurants, and busy office environments.
2. More consolidation
Consumers and industry watchers can expect to see a consolidation trend in the voice industry to continue this year. We've already seen a number of mergers and acquisitions in the past few months as service providers seek to grow their networks and global reach. And Thorson said this trend will continue “as the services become more commoditized and service providers fight to grow market share.” Polycom agreed to be acquired by Siris Capital Group in July 2016.
3. Migration from traditional on-premises PBX to the cloud
Thorson sees “a continued trend toward moving voice services away from the traditional on-premises PBX to the cloud.” While this isn’t exactly a new trend and more businesses are recognizing and reaping the value of the cloud, Thorson says the difference is that the migration from traditional PBX to the cloud today is becoming more mainstream, if not the norm, for most businesses. This isn’t surprising, though, considering that the advantages of cloud PBX are clear: scalability, easy deployment from any location around the world, richer feature sets, improved high-definition audio quality, unified messaging functions from your desktop, laptop, and mobile phone, and more.
4. Unified Communications (UC) is here to stay
Another trend that Thorson believes will grow and dominate the voice space in 2017 is Unified Communications (UC). “While it may not be a term that the average person is readily familiar with, I’m sure if you were to ask just about any employee what they like about their communications of today versus those of the past, I think they would elude to all of their various technologies coming together and using them is a more complementary way than ever before,” Thorson said. “Bringing text, chat, email, voice, video, presence, social etc. into a more unified communication workflow will continue to be needed by employees and each will have different preferences depending upon how they work,” he added.
5. More international expansion
Thorson also predicts VoIP players to launch more international expansion in 2017, particularly in the EMEA markets (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). Thorson says, “Their infrastructure is well built out and there is a wide variety of choices across the region.” The APAC (Asia-Pacific), however, may be more challenging to penetrate as there are still some government regulations in place that seek to protect the established players in the market. But Thorson is optimistic that the markets will soon open up and that new regional service providers will develop as government regulations feel the pressure from multinational organizations.
Whether these predictions will come to fruition or new trends and technologies will emerge this year, one thing is for sure: 2017 will be an even more exciting year for the voice space.
Founded in 1990, Polycom has two decades of history and innovation. They initially started with a simple vision to transform the speakerphone into an indispensable business tool but has now evolved to become one of the most respected industry leaders in unified collaboration solutions. Today, Polycom has more than 950 technology patents and provides secure video, voice, and content solutions to more than 400,000 enterprises and organizations in different industries worldwide.
Polycom’s suite of products and solutions covers voice (conference phones, VoIP phones, and installed audio), video (mobile/personal video conferencing, room, collaboration infrastructure, and immersive telepresence), and content (content sharing, recording, streaming, and content management). These flexible collaboration solutions serve the needs of various industries, including education, healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, government, entertainment, retail and wholesale, oil, gas and energy, pharmaceutical, and other business and professional services. To learn more about Polycom's products and services, visit their website.