Will Economy Lead VoIP Back to its Money-Saving Basics?


When VoIP first exited the lab and was gaining some traction among business, the big selling point was that it saved money over legacy systems. But the attraction was transitory, as the old-line telcos began meeting the competition by cutting their inflated prices to match the upstarts. Service providers and carriers soon found that the real long-term pitch was that VoIP offered services that either enabled people to do things they couldn't do before or allowed them to do so far more easily.


It will be interesting if the collective loss of a few trillion dollars in market value pushes businesses back to looking at VoIP and other convergence platforms primarily as money savers.


The Internet is full of stories about how businesses can save money as the economy heads south. Many of those schemes have an IP element. For instance, this ZDNet Asia piece offers 10 ways to cut costs. They include using VoIP, cutting faxes in favor of electronic attachments, cutting down on physical mail, expanding telecommuting and going green. All of these involve at least in some way leveraging Internet-based technology.


The companies that have opted for VoIP for primarily operational and not financial reasons are now well positioned to take advantage of cost-savings. VoIP News dispenses with describing the rationale for why VoIP is a good thing -- visitors to a VoIP-specific site already get it -- and cuts right to the good stuff: It names names on software that can achieve this goal. Vendors mentioned in the post are Toktumi, Bandwidth.com, PhoneFusion, OnState, Fonality, Palringo, iotum, MediaRing, DeFi Mobile, fringland, Jajah, TokBox, Skype, iSkoot, Yugma, MagicJack, RingCentral, Jaduka and Voxofon. If the piece proves nothing else, it shows that the VoIP industry has a lot of fun naming their products.


This is a general interest article -- it ran in the Barnstable (MA) Patriot -- that sings the praises of VoIP as a way to cut costs. The writer pegs the savings at 30 percent, and elaborates the other well known virtues and drawbacks (911 and peak-usage challenges) of the platform.


Inside CRM is taking the recession very seriously. It has put together an expansive list of 78 ways to save money. It is broken down into major categories. The technology section has 19 items, and virtually all of them deal in some way with IP-based approaches. They range from the obvious ("Check out VoIP") to subtle (use of laptops instead of desktops whenever possible -- even in the office -- because they use less power). It's a good list overall, and the technology elements are well thought out.


For some reason, this topic lends itself to numbered lists. End User offers five tech-oriented ways in which to save money during the downturn. They include using open source and free Web apps whenever possible, buying one device that can perform multiple tasks (such as a smart phone), settling for less than top-of-the-line devices, and bartering.


The economy is bad. It is going to get worse and stay that way for some time. The financial advantages offered by IP-based telecommunications -- from VoIP to convergence and beyond -- may again become its primary selling feature.