2017 brought many valuable lessons for IP-based communication providers, but I would argue one of the most important takeaways was that voice and messaging services are increasingly becoming a must-have business features to optimize the customer experience. As a result, businesses of all sizes are turning away from “old school” legacy telcos, and instead partnering with software-based IP service providers to help deploy innovative communications services.
This next-generation, software-centric carriers are uniquely able to provide businesses with visibility, coverage, and reliability over their telecom resources. Historically this has been difficult since traditional telco services are built on infrastructure that is not designed to integrate with modern software. The physical infrastructure of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) does not scale easily, and the current regulatory structure of the telecom industry does not facilitate innovation. Interoperation can take months (or years!) to finalize, a waiting period that today’s businesses cannot afford to budget for.
As more businesses choose to partner with software-based service providers for their communications needs, they also need to plan for the following trends in the coming year:
Tech Advancements Will Help Businesses Recover Faster From IP Network Outages
Network outages put a halt to business operations, impacting the supply chain, human resources, customer service or e-commerce. Gartner has estimated that the cost of network downtime can run $5,600 per minute, which translates to more than $330,000 per hour. The current challenge is that when a network does go down, there is no way to quickly re-route traffic to resolve the impairment.
We predict continued innovation will help carriers to bypass network outages so that they can resume normal operations faster. This also applies to organizations experiencing service degradation, by re-routing voice service to another network to ensure uptime. In order to achieve this innovation, we will need software-centric carriers that can access the PSTN in order to make granular modifications to reduce issues that impact service availability.
AI and Machine Learning will give Software-centric Carriers (and their customers) True Competitive Advantage
With its ability to manipulate data and find patterns to help inform business decisions, machine learning has been one of the biggest transformative forces in IT during 2017. We predict in 2018 that the power and potential for machine learning will carry over to the IP communications arena, enabling carriers to provide better customer service, confirm network status and more effectively mitigate and reroute network outages.
For example, by examining call data usage patterns, carriers could make smarter decisions on how to use which network when, based on usage spikes and other factors. Software-based carriers may also gain a competitive leg up on legacy telcos since physical switches and fiber networks can’t leverage the power of machine learning, software-fueled insights.
The Fight Against Fraud Will Take Center Stage as IP Comms Continue to Grow
As the popularity of IP-based communications continues to grow, the threat of fraud also increases. Global fraud losses are estimated at more than $29 billion dollars, according to the Communications Fraud Control Association’s 2017 survey. However, when it comes to understanding – let alone securing – the data residing on their IP communications network, many carriers are unfortunately still playing catch-up. With liability ultimately falling on the end customer, it is critical for carriers to optimize their networks to prevent loss. The impact of telecom fraud grows exponentially when factoring in potential damage to a company’s customer relationships and a tarnished reputation.
Therefore, 2018 will create a sense of urgency for carriers to educate themselves about telecom fraud and protect their services and customers from attacks.
While no one can boast of having a crystal ball with 100 percent accuracy, innovation will continue to thrive in the year ahead when it comes to enterprise communications. We also foresee that IP-based providers will play a pivotal role in helping businesses to better access and leverage their telco resources to drive sales and improve the overall customer experience.