Once criticized for its tin can-like sound quality and annoying jitter, VoIP is now renowned for its ability to cut costs and support a unified communications strategy. In fact, according to a study released recently by Juniper Research, there will be 1 billion over-the-top (OTT) mobile VoIP users by 2017. And analysts report that the hosted VoIP user base grew by a whopping 30.5 percent, reaching 5 million users, by the end of 2013.
But for all its rich features and cost-cutting power, VoIP can pose some serious challenges. Companies that fail to take the necessary precautions before installing VoIP technology risk not getting a return on their investment.
Here are the top 5 most common mistakes enterprises make when switching to VoIP and how to avoid these errors:
Not making security a top priority
When it comes to security, many IT professionals focusing on safeguarding systems from malware and viruses. But the reality is VoIP can also expose an enterprise to sweeping security breaches. Denial of service attacks, Spamming over Internet Telephony (SPIT) and vishing, in which deceptive social engineering techniques are used to steal sensitive information, all pose a serious threat to security.
But that’s not all. In addition to these attack strategies, VoIP systems can fall victim to ill-intentioned eavesdroppers who sit in on confidential conversations in order to gain access to critical data such as credit card numbers. And then there are the issues that might arise from VoIP-enabled mobile devices getting lost or stolen in today’s BYOD culture. Even tech giant Cisco recently announcing funding University of Alabama researchers who, with Cisco’s financial help, are exploring vulnerabilities in VoIP and how to minimize these threats.
Miscalculating bandwidth needs
Many companies make the mistake of underestimating the amount of bandwidth needed to support a VoIP system. In fact, organizations such as call centers that experience frequent fluctuations in inbound and outbound traffic often miscalculate their bandwidth needs, resulting in poor sound quality and lousy customer service.
Because enterprise-class VoIP systems ride on top of a company’s existing data networks, a VoIP system is really only as good as the computer network it’s built on. For this reason, it’s critical that companies ensure sufficient bandwidth by performing an in-depth network readiness assessment prior to deployment. Traffic shaping and quality of service techniques can also ensure greater bandwidth protection by preventing traffic from getting congested.
Failing to prepare for disaster recovery
“Businesses using VoIP telecommunication services are much more capable of disaster recovery strategies and solutions than other traditional phone system using companies,” reads a post on Dr.VoIP.com, a site run by seasoned VoIP consultant Peter Buswell, detailing how VoIP can be used as part of a disaster recovery strategy.
Indeed, because of its flexibility and fault tolerance capabilities, an entire VoIP system can be quickly reconfigured to work elsewhere in the event of a storm like Hurricane Sandy or any other natural disaster.
But while VoIP’s reliance on the Internet promises better availability in times of trouble, VoIP systems still must be configured properly to ensure ongoing availability and redundancy patterns. For small businesses, this can be a daunting task. As a result, many SMBs opt for hosted or multi-tenant VoIP systems. In this case, the hosted VoIP service provider conducts a 100-percent replication for complete redundancy of all communications. In fact, a recent Frost & Sullivan report reveals that SMBs will represent the majority of hosted IP telephony and UCC users through 2020. Currently, SMBs comprise 68.3 percent of the total hosted IP telephony and UCC services market in 2013.
Overlooking hidden fees
Cutting costs is one of the key drivers of VoIP adoption. But many companies fail to recognize the tiny, incremental, hidden costs that can add up to an unexpectedly big bill. “The upfront costs of VoIP services are definitely cheaper than traditional business phone systems, so it can be tempting. But make sure you read the fine print,” writes Dave Haggblad in a blog post for Tel Tech Services, a developer of voice and network client solutions. Haggblad points to licensing fees, rich feature sets and tech support as hidden charges that can drive up the total cost of ownership for a VoIP system.
Under- or over-estimating business needs
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a large enterprise or a new-born startup, most VoIP systems are flexible enough to meet a variety of business needs. “VoIP offers as many advantages for small businesses as it does for large corporations,” writes Bianca Allery, marketing operations manager at VoIP services provider 3CX, in a recent blog post. “On top of saving money for smaller companies constrained by fewer resources, a first-class VoIP solution offers a host of valuable business tools that help drive productivity and make it easier to compete with the giants in any industry.”
The trick is making sure a VoIP system’s feature systems reflect actual business needs rather than an IT department’s dream list. Top enterprise features to consider include call routing, auto attendant, presence and conferencing.
Looking for more VoIP info? Contact MCC’s Telecom Solutions Division today!