The telephone has been an important tool for businesses communication since shortly after its invention in the late 19th century. With its ability to provide real-time, transcontinental communication, the telephone revolutionized the speed at which business takes place.
Even with the invention of the personal computer and email, the telephone still reigns supreme. While many transactions take place via email in a manner more similar to telephone's predecessor, the telegraph, email cannot replicate the personal nature and speed of voice communication. It is clear that email will only supplement the telephone; it will not replace it.
But new technology is merging these two technologies. Voice over IP (VoIP) technology is allowing businesses to harness the infrastructure of the Internet and implement fully-functional telephone systems without relying on the big names in traditional telephone service.
Instead of relying on traditional telephone lines, VoIP runs through the ever-growing network of Internet cables. Because of this, international communication spanning oceans can be more reliable and cost-effective. Phone lines become congested quickly; Internet lines, on the other hand, can handle several orders of magnitude more data at a time. Compared to videos, voice communications take up very little bandwidth.
Further, VoIP systems allow businesses to configure and seamlessly expand their telephone systems. While traditional phone networks depend on specialized hardware, VoIP systems can run on consumer-grade computer and networking parts. Making calls with multiple parties on the same phone network is much easier with computer-moderated systems.
And VoIP systems allow businesses access to advanced features that traditional phone services cannot offer. Digitized voice mail systems allow users to configure their voice mail any way they choose; multiple greeting messages, automatic transcription of messages and nearly limitless message archiving gives businesses increased flexibility. Many VoIP systems allow businesses to use "virtual numbers," which eases growth and helps streamline relationships with customers and other businesses. And the price of these features is often less than the cost of less capable solutions provided by traditional telephone system providers.
Businesses are adopting VoIP systems at an astonishing rate. From mom-and-pop sized businesses to the largest corporations, businesses are finding VoIP to be a worthwhile and cost-saving upgrade. Many speculate that the leading factors keeping businesses on old traditional telephone systems is familiarity and inertia; when its time to upgrade, businesses are making the switch to VoIP.