List: What telecoms products and services are the must-haves for next year?
What are CIOs looking out for in the telecoms market? CBR rounds up ten technologies, products and changes that enterprises want to see next year.
1. Enhanced phone hardware
In the era of ubiquitous smartphone ownership, it’s easy to neglect the fixed deskphone. But a significant proportion of communication still takes place at a desk and it is important to keep up-to-date with new advances.
Bluetooth headsets will help employees become as mobile with a landline as with a mobile. If combined with the right software, deskphones can be combined with other forms of communication, enabling features such as answerphone to email.
2. Fibre to the premises
The data requirements of the average business, including both upload and download speeds, are only going to rise as more and more activity takes place in the cloud.
To ensure the highest speeds, a business really needs fibre installed all the way to the building, not just to the street cabinet. There are several providers that have made a name for themselves offering gigabit wi-fi, including Hyperoptic and Cityfibre.
3. Video conferencing equipment
The video phone has been predicted as far back as the 1990s and has begun to take hold in the consumer space with services such as Skype.
In business, face-to-face contact is just as important as in personal relationships in building rapport. Video conferencing can help with organising long distance meetings, but it is important to have hardware that is up to the job.
There is still scepticism about the reliability and pricing of voice over IP, but 2016 will presumably see these being addressed.
Transmitting voice calls over the internet allows more flexible contracts, as well as allowing features such as users being able to have the same phone number through mobile, deskphone or internet. It also cuts the costs of installation and ownership.
5. Network analytics
For the modern enterprise, data is everything, whether this is in helping to understand customers, partners or the market generally.
A data-driven approach is increasingly being applied in networks. Through third party services or services offered by providers (Vodafone being one example), enterprises can track the performance of their network and optimise it accordingly.
6. Network security
Building a secure network has been a key concern for IT managers since the concept has existed. However, both the risk of an attack and the capacity of tools to handle one have never been greater.
Network security could be a strong firewall, but it could also be something like a VPN. Providing access to the network now has to be inherently mobile and inherently cloud-enabled.
7. A software-defined network
A software-defined network allows the manager to centralise higher network functionality in one controller, decoupling it from the hardware. This provides an end-to-end view of the entire network, allows reduced capital and operating expenditure and boosts agility and flexibility.
Applying the same concept to the wide area network, or the one connecting the various branches of an enterprise, will also yield some key benefits. The added intelligence will allow users to build networks around the needs of their particular applications.
8. Network functions virtualisation
The flip side of software-defined networking is about virtualising network processes so that they can be run on generic hardware, rather than dedicated hardware such as routers. Key players include BT, Mitel and HP.
Again, this lowers costs and increases the flexibility of the network. It also allows for a much more scalable network.
9. More flexible contracts
The traditional model of selling telecoms is essentially long-term contracts with high installation costs. However, recent innovations have reduced the monopoly power of the major providers in offering telecoms.
To ensure that they can keep up with all of the advances, enterprises will want shorter contracts that are more adaptable to their changing needs.
10. Regulatory outcomes
As Ofcom dangles the Sword of Damocles over BT and Openreach in its latest review of the digital communications market, the future of the wholesale broadband market hangs in the balance. Sharon White has indicated that the status quo is unlikely to continue, but whether Openreach will be fully separated is unclear.
All the customers will be looking for is an outcome that provides clarity and certainty and benefits them rather than the interests involved, be those BT or its rivals.