This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
I’ve been looking at the review for 8x8's (News - Alert) Virtual Office Pro today. It seems like a Web-based portal for a fully functioning PBX including call rules, auto attendant, music on hold, and even includes Web conferencing. Easy to use is key.
Google (News - Alert) Voice undoubtedly scared some companies – probably more than MagicJack, Vonage or Skype. GVoice has too much consumer muscle behind it. It's free. But it's not easy to dial through.
MagicJack just went free with MagicTalk.Vonage (News - Alert) has mobile apps to help everyone make cheap calls on their cell phones. (Who really needs that with all-you-can-eat plans and declining voice minutes?)
Then you have Phone.com (News - Alert) rolling out lots of Google like features plus mobile apps, greetings, text voicemails, one-number service, whitelist and global DIDs – all available through a much cluttered front page.
Then we have the Ringio (News - Alert) service, which is aimed at small business. The best part of this service is the intelligence in call routing. If Joe calls in on Monday and talks to Peter, then calls back on Tuesday, it remembers that Joe spoke with Peter; so instead of a tree, Joe gets a simple question: "Want to talk to Peter?" That’s great customer service.
Ultimately, cell phones will represent mobility and convenience, but lousy call quality and spotty reception. (We already are seeing network congestion and increased dropped calls). The mobile PBX may gain hold some.
With teleworkers, distributed workforces, online collaboration, and the rise of the freelancers (contractor, 1099 worker), hosted PBX in many flavors is going to be adopted heavily.
Differentiation by the VoIP providers will be required to cut through the crowd. Some providers may just go specialize in niches and integrate vertically by being more than just a cloud communications provider, but an apps service provider with security, storage, and integration of data and communications. Rich calling is just the start.
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Edited by Jaclyn Allard