This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
Growth among the top voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) providers has continued through 2021. As far as VoIP trends and news, Zoom took a recent hit in its stock price thanks to the nixed Five9 acquisition, but providers like Vonage, RingCentral, and 8×8 continue to show signs of steady success as 2022 approaches. It’s clear: 2022 will definitely be a good year for business phone system providers.
VoIP Providers Will Continue to Grow
Over the past year, RingCentral, one of the market leaders for both VoIP and unified communications as a service (UCaaS), announced that its subscription revenue was up an astonishing 34%. In addition to this, new partnerships with this provider are also becoming common in spite of a decline in the stock value from early 2021 peaks.
This year alone, RingCentral formed new partnerships with Deutsche Telekom and Alcatel-Lucent, and is expanding its existing partnership with NICE. As a result of these steps, RingCentral is looking to finish up the year with a total revenue of $379.3 million, significantly higher than previous estimates. This isn’t the only success story that illustrates how well VoIP providers are growing.
For example, 8×8 recently entered into a new distribution agreement with the SYNNEX Corporation to grant SYNNEX partners access to 8×8’s open communication XCaaS platform (Experience Communications as a Service). This will mean greater adoption of 8×8 Voice for Teams users and clear the pathway to growth for the VoIP provider.
These developments are a sign of prosperity in the VoIP/UCaaS sector. A recent market report by Global News Wire stated that projections for the UCaaS market to be worth $26.2 billion by 2027 is on the money.
The era of the landline has clearly met its end. While it had an amazing run, the history of VoIP is similarly rich, and VoIP will be the way companies communicate with customers and colleagues going forward.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a powerful impetus for change. Many brick-and-mortar small businesses switched to remote work-first and remote-hybrid systems. In return, the VoIP industry has been demonstrating that it’s adjusting to meet the needs of its customers. In terms of customer and professional relationships, several key developments have been prime indicators of where VoIP is going.
Here are a few of our predictions of VoIP trends for 2022 based on recent developments in the industry:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Continue to Enhance Customer Relationships
AI is becoming ubiquitous in just about every aspect of modern life, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn it’s been deeply adopted by tech-savvy VoIP providers. For example, Dialpad’s Voice Intelligence, which it calls Vi, was introduced in 2019 to combine speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP), and has become a major part of its value as a provider.
Moreover, Dialpad’s recent acquisition of Kare Knowledgeware in September 2021 clearly illustrates their intent to become the leaders in AI-powered VoIP. Kare’s technology is designed to bolster customer experience by leveraging knowledge management and business intelligence. With Dialpad, customers will have a stronger self-service experience, which means agents can more easily and efficiently address the customers that need their help.
Dialpad, while a leader in AI adoption, is far from the only provider using machine learning to enhance its service. RingCentral uses Theta Lake and Velvetech as downloadable AI apps for businesses looking to enhance their actionable insights.
It’s also becoming increasingly common for businesses to employ chatbots to manage customer needs. Apps like Landbot.io, Mindsay, and Boost.ai are filling in the gaps for businesses that want to increase engagement using self-learning AI. In an article published on Finance Digest, Servion Global Solutions warns that by 2025, 95% of customer interactions will be managed without a human agent. In most cases, they say, the customer won’t even be aware they’re interacting with a bot.
Artificial intelligence is also being incorporated into interactive voice response (IVR) systems more readily to increase self-service and improve the agent experience. For example, a system will gather information from the customer and send it to the agent, who will be more prepared to address the customer’s needs when they pick up the call.
This technology also helps HIPAA-compliant providers gather patient information using natural language processing, or NLP. In fact, according to PR Newswire, the growth of the NLP market is expected to increase in the United States significantly in the next five years thanks to AI features like sentiment analysis.
Educational Institutions Will Embrace VoIP & UCaaS
The functionality of VoIP was already big for businesses needing easier ways to communicate. However, due to the pandemic, the vast majority of U.S. educational institutions from primary schools to colleges have now added platforms to facilitate remote learning and even class collaboration.
These VoIP services also provide ways to add supplemental learning sessions, enrichment classes, labs, and tutoring to the curriculum without the students meeting in person. As the world adapts to new post-pandemic normals, VoIP communication trends show the market will continue to grow.
In a school setting, an IVR system that efficiently routes calls to the right staff member or extension saves time and improves experiences. It even enables students (or parents) to request equipment, school forms, textbooks, and other items they may need without speaking to a teacher or administrator.
Nor are these opportunities limited to phone calls, since texting and messaging also efficiently streamline communication. Furthermore, VoIP features like ringless voicemail enable educators to send bulk messages to students with announcements and instructions.
Likewise, many college campuses are very large. Students find that meeting over video conferences with their professors saves a significant amount of time, while also helping to reduce the potential for spreading COVID-19 and other contact-based viruses. Students can also go home and visit family and friends more often while still attending classes virtually and collaborating with other students, or even learn from home for the entirety of their educational experience.
There Will Be Increased Competition & Partnerships
Many businesses are switching over to VoIP and unified communications (UC). The industry has quickly entered into a state of consolidation, and some powerful companies are putting their money where their mouth is.
For example, Verizon recently purchased BlueJeans, and Microsoft’s recent Teams push resulted in massive usage upticks. While Zoom did fail to purchase Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) provider Five9 in late 2021, there are multiple indications that consolidation will continue well into 2022.
A steady lineup of new players are also entering the arena. LinkedIn recently launched native video meetings on their platform, which eradicates the need for business connections to use an external service like Zoom to communicate.
Google has also recently partnered with CDW and several providers, including 8×8 and RingCentral, to bring contact center as a service features to their Chrome OS software. Overall, these changes make it easy for providers to deliver on features and guarantees to deliver some enticing options for businesses.
Expect an Increased Attention to VoIP Security
VoIP has increased vulnerabilities thanks to the nature of calls sent via packets over the internet. Nearly 70% of business leaders feel cybersecurity is becoming a serious issue based on research done by Accenture, and small businesses are typically the ones that bear the brunt of the impact when it comes to cyberattacks. This keenly affects VoIP since confidential information is sent through providers like Nextiva, RingCentral, and 8×8 nearly every minute of every day.
Since August 2021, there have been Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on at least three VoIP providers, including larger providers like Bandwidth.com. Attacks like this affect all VoIP services that use the same servers, like RingCentral and Twilio. Based on research published on MSSP Alert (Managed Security Service Provider), DDoS and ransomware attacks are only going to increase in the new year.
Unfortunately, as was proven by the recent attacks in the U.K., anti-DDoS prevention measures aren’t always effective, especially when multiple attacks occur simultaneously. These kinds of attacks bog down the server until it is unusable.
In addition to DDoS, security risks like packet sniffers, which detect, log, and steal voice data packets as they travel to their destination, are a significant risk. This is why many providers are making security a major focus as VoIP-based systems become more ubiquitous. Multi-layer security measures need to not only protect data on remote servers around the world, but they need to offer solutions for the remote workers who use personal devices to communicate with colleagues and customers.
As attacks continue into the new year, expect smaller businesses to take extra steps when it comes to encryption and data protection best practices. In many cases, VoIP security is best done at the business level rather than purely at the provider level. Businesses will start to improve things like password policies and protocols, and implement stronger end-to-end encryption for external devices used by employees.
The era of the distributed workforce is here, and with this era comes mass demand for virtual meetings and team collaboration via the internet. With all of these data packets being sent from traditionally under-protected locations, like your employee’s home, now is the time to consider bolstering security for 2022.
The Rise of New High-speed Internet Connectivity Options
You may already know about the new Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ax, which is more commonly referred to as Wi-Fi 6. By design, Wi-Fi 6 eschews some of the traditional weaknesses of standard Wi-Fi by reducing congestion on the wireless connection, making this new iteration more mobile VoIP-friendly. The technology even reduces the battery drain that typically comes with traditional Wi-Fi connections.
Wi-Fi 6 provides tools to manage mobile VoIP traffic from virtual phone providers like Grasshopper as well as larger VoIP and UC providers like RingCentral. With increased bandwidth over wireless networks, agents have an easier time connecting with laptops and smart devices and won’t need to be tethered to desk phones and desktop computers.
Also along this same line is the rise of new wireless technologies like 5G. 5G could easily supplant Wi-Fi 6 since private networks using the technology are being installed into buildings as we speak. While you may have heard about 5G from your cellular carrier, private 5G won’t be as easily affected by dead zones and occasional disconnects. This makes it ideal for businesses needing maximized uptime in their offices.
In 2022, expect businesses to embrace one or both of these technologies since each has definitive use cases. Companies may use Wi-Fi 6 for generalized customer interaction and team communication, but would also deploy private 5G LTE networks in circumstances where there’s a need for separate processing and storage of data. This would be ideal for companies that need HIPAA-compliant data warehousing.
The End of the Desktop Phone Is in Sight
Over the last few years, more and more companies have shifted their focus to mobile phones rather than the traditional desktop phones that helped VoIP become popular. This is aptly depicted in Nextiva’s famous “Hey, Boss” ad, where an employee says, “Hey boss, I know you want me to work from home, but how am I supposed to bring this thing with me?” while lifting up their large multi-line desk phone.
Smartphones are ideal for businesses looking to provide their employees with a means to communicate with customers and colleagues using a variety of channels. Today’s mobile devices are already VoIP- and UCaaS-friendly thanks to advanced capabilities for voice calls and voicemails, video chats, video and audio conferencing, email, and texting. Plus, there are mobile apps available for nearly every type of business task and function, including customer relationship management (CRM) software, help desks, and call centers.
In fact, according to Market Research Future, it’s clear that bring your own device (BYOD), which is a mobile-first concept, is being championed by many providers such as Vonage, Nextiva, and 8×8. The versatility of smartphones and tablets means that agents can easily make calls from any 3G, 4G, 5G, or Wi-Fi network and makes it easy to run a business powered by remote workers.
2021 has been a year of major changes in the VoIP and UC industries. Companies are consolidating, partnerships are being forged, and new technologies are making business communication even more convenient—from anywhere. In 2022, trends show that VoIP and UC will continue to thrive, and we’re bound to see some truly unique developments that will change how businesses communicate.