Friday, October 5, 2007

VoIP will make money, not save it

There are two problems with the hype around IP telephony.

First, it probably will not save users as much as they would end up spending on extra hardware to maintain call quality ­ the promise of savings is a red herring.

But there is a bigger problem in that most people punting IP telephony completely miss the point about its real value. They are stuck in a 130-year-old mindset in which telephony begins and ends with the ability of two people to talk when they are apart. Several embellishments have been added ­ voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding ­ but it is still all about talking. If all that has changed is the way the voice signal is carried, then voice over IP (VoIP) changes nothing.

But if voice is simply another data stream, then it can be mixed up and enriched with other data streams. Once that happens ­ once phone systems are connected to financial and customer records ­ a world of opportunities opens up. Business can start being extracted from a system that was previously just part of the furniture.

Link caller ID with other information, for example, and suddenly when customers call, their profiles pop up on screen even before the call has been answered. Everything can be seen ­ from outstanding invoices, to what happened last time the customer called the company, to how profitable the account is.

Making well-integrated information available to the right people as soon as or even before they need it makes for better, faster customer service and happier customers.

Even better, an integrated system makes it easy to keep information up to date. Suddenly, a customer relationship management system simply is an address book and it automatically tracks every phone call, SMS or email exchanged with every customer. The customer database is always up to date and shared throughout the organisation. It can also become a rich source of information for new business creation.

That is the true value of VoIP. Forget about saving pennies on phone calls and look instead to the new business it can create

from :
© yankandpaste®

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