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The VoIP Report

How VoIP Empowers Technology Companies
August 30th, 2017

How VoIP Empowers Technology Companies

Ian Linton

VoIP provides comprehensive and flexible communications tools and VoIP empowers technology companies at each stage of growth. How does it do this?

The United States has the most advanced software and information technology (IT) services in the world, according to the government agency SelectUSA. The agency reported that more than a quarter of the $3.8 trillion global IT market is in the United

The industry accounts for 7.1 percent of U.S. GDP and 11.6 percent of U.S. private-sector employment, with nearly two million people working in the business. There are more than 100,000 software and IT services companies in the United States, and more than 99 percent are small and medium-sized firms (under 500 employees).

Technology companies move through rapid stages of development, beginning as start-ups or spin-offs from university research departments or larger companies. As they grow, they rely on collaboration with freelance or contract workers, as well as business partners. Later, they form more complex networks of partnerships, developing ecosystems that help them build end-to-end solutions for clients. They may also be involved in acquisitions and mergers, or subject to takeovers.

These and other factors make it important for technology companies to have a communications solution that grows with their evolving business. VoIP provides comprehensive and flexible communications tools and VoIP empowers technology companies at each stage of growth.

Great for start-ups

The technology sector has traditionally been characterized by high levels of start-ups, with countless stories of global businesses that have grown rapidly from operations in a garage. In some cases, the founders may have worked for a larger business and had a great idea they wanted to develop. Or, they might be recent graduates with the opportunity to spin out a project they started at university.

Garages may no longer be the first choice location once growth is seen. Technology entrepreneurs are then more likely to be found at incubation centers, small, managed offices or buildings offering shared accommodation. Whatever the location, good communications are essential from day one. Technology entrepreneurs need to be in constant contact with customers, suppliers, business partners and early-stage investors. The problem is that phone systems can be expensive and a drain on scarce capital.

While many start-ups rely on smartphones or legacy phone systems, a VoIP solution hosted in the cloud offers an affordable alternative. There is no upfront infrastructure investment, and predictable monthly charges cover the service, maintenance, and upgrades. Plus, start-ups can take advantage of advanced communications from the outset.

Going for growth

The MIT Technology Review recently reported that the number of US firms less than a year old had fallen by almost half between 1978 and 2011, which appeared to indicate that Americans had lost their appetite for starting new businesses.

However, technology firms have bucked that trend, and they currently represent a high-growth sector. A report by the Kaufmann Institute found that technology firms are now starting at an even faster rate, and many are entering the market with cutting edge innovations.

Growth is a key objective for these firms. and the leaders are adding jobs at a rate of more than 25 percent a year, according to the Kaufmann Institute. For these firms, scalability is essential and VoIP gives them the ability to match their communications capacity with their growing businesses without the delay and disruption of installing additional fixed lines.

Setting up virtual businesses

In the technology sector, growth doesn’t have to be organic. Many small firms grow by developing virtual businesses. Instead of recruiting full-time employees, they work with freelance or contract staff based in other locations.

They might use the virtual staff to access different skills or build a larger pool of developers and coders, for example. Some firms might take on virtual marketing or finance professionals to cover more specialized roles until they are large enough to require full-time executives.

Effective communications are essential for virtual businesses. People need to maintain regular contact to collaborate, manage progress and build good working relationships. It’s also important to give customers a single point of contact for all members of the virtual business. This not only improves convenience for customers, but it also helps to create the impression of a single, larger business.

With VoIP, you can set up a system that connects all members of a virtual business, regardless of the location of individual members. Remote members’ phones act as extensions of an internal phone system so that incoming calls can be routed to the right person on any devices. And, low-cost long-distance call charges mean location is no barrier to setting up and running a virtual business.

Managing collaboration

Collaboration is a key feature of the technology sector. Firms aim to build high levels of collaboration inside and outside the business. In the software business, working relationships between developers, coders, testers and production staff are now tightly integrated as firms adopt Agile and DevOps tools to improve quality and reduce lead times for new product development.

DevOps brings teams for separate software disciplines together, rather than maintaining the old status quo of working in silos. The aim is to create a seamless process of development, code, test, and release in a continuous cycle.

VoIP supports the high levels of collaboration essential to this process with easy-to-use web, video and audio conferencing tools, screen sharing and convenient messaging tools such as email, chat, text, and instant messaging. These tools make it easy for teams to hold scheduled or ad-hoc meetings from any location and on any device without dedicated meeting facilities.

Working with partners

The same collaboration tools help technology firms build and maintain relationships with business partners. Partnerships with other technology firms, universities, and research institutes are important because they give access to skills, resources, or knowledge that can be shared and built upon. This enables companies to develop complete end-to-end solutions that their customers need and gives them a strong advantage over competitors.

A partnership also helps firms build solid reputations. A strong network of partnerships with high-profile companies demonstrates that a technology firm has the all-round capability and resources to build best-of-breed solutions.

VoIP’s comprehensive collaboration tools and global reach make it possible to build partnerships with organizations in any part of the world and draw on the best skills available.

Building ecosystems

A business ecosystem is a more advanced form of partnership. It’s a network of technology firms with complementary skills. The ecosystem is generally set up and managed by a larger enterprise but includes small and medium firms who work together for mutual benefit.

Lead enterprises can draw on an established network of partners with proven skills. Relationships with large businesses give smaller firms access to greater market opportunities. Members share skills and knowledge to fill the gaps in their own resources, or they may work on joint development projects, aiming to build solutions that no single firm could develop independently. Ecosystems also provide members with a competitive advantage, giving them access to skills their competitors cannot match.

Members of an ecosystem need a flexible communications solution that makes it easy to collaborate and share data, even though individual firms operate their own communications platforms. VoIP, as an open Internet-based system, provides coverage of locations and devices that supports seamless communications.

Managing the supply chain

Although many technology firms release digital solutions as their end product, the businesses that produce hardware must manage their supply chain efficiently to control costs and meet market demand. In many cases, these firms rely on outsourced manufacturing partners in addition to other component suppliers.

VoIP can help manage the supply chain by supporting secure, low-cost, real-time communications and data sharing that facilitates collaboration throughout the network. VoIP’s Internet reach means that suppliers can be based in any location, including emerging markets where labor costs are lower.

VoIP makes it easy for supply chain members to post production and distribution updates, collaborate to plan production changes or review problems, and respond rapidly to threats or opportunities when market conditions change.

Scaling for marketing release dates

Technology firms see innovation as a strong competitive advantage, and they aim to release a succession of new products or upgrades during the year. Many publish a product roadmap that sets out their strategy and timetable for new releases.

In the lead-up to scheduled release dates, communications traffic is likely to increase with customer and media inquiries, notifications to retailers, requests for product information and higher levels of collaboration with suppliers and business partners.

That makes VoIP’s scalability an important benefit for technology firms. Instead of building in surplus capacity or putting up with the delay and disruption of installing additional lines, firms can ask their VoIP service provider to deploy additional virtual lines to match demand. Deployment is immediate so that higher numbers of callers don’t face long waiting times. A poor response can impact the success of a product release, so the right level of scalability is vital.

Supporting customers through the life cycle

Software and hardware products move through a clearly defined life cycle. Customers look for information and advice to help them select and purchase the right product. After purchase, they may require support during installation, together with ongoing maintenance and upgrades. To maintain their systems, customers may look for information on new product releases or emerging technologies.

The constant requirement for efficient communication makes VoIP an essential tool throughout the customer life cycle. VoIP has the services and features to support multi-channel contact centers, help desks, and virtual contact centers. Agents can access CRM systems and knowledge bases to provide efficient, personalized service while sophisticated call routing and internal collaboration and call-forwarding features ensure customers always deal with the agents best qualified to handle their inquiries.

VoIP and emerging technology

VoIP offers technology firms many important benefits, and its value is set to increase as the technology evolves. Because VoIP runs on a data network, it is capable of integrating with business applications and services, making it an important platform for productivity and efficiency.

Integration with CRM and calendar applications is already well established and VoIP voice and collaboration tools can now be launched from within solutions like Microsoft Office 365. Developments like that will blur the line between communications and business applications, helping technology firms drive even greater efficiency and gain a competitive advantage.

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