You might have heard of Voice Over IP (VoIP), the ability to make telephone calls over the Internet, or in other words using the same pathway and protocol that your computer uses. Currently, the quality is not conistent enough to warrant wholesale migration – but that will change soon; the costs are significantly lower, and I would guess that would change as well.
VoIP is one aspect of IP Telephony (sometimes the terms are used interchangably). The implications of IP telephony go beyond VoIP; it is the major component of convergence of telephones and computers.
For example, in our distributed office structure, with equipment that is 100% IP compatible, we would have one phone system for our (Eastern’s) 45+ offices. No expensive PBX equipment, completely, centrally manage moves, adds, changes from one desktop in the Division/NHO. I have a call I want to transfer to my boss in Syracuse – I simply do it the same way as I would in the office.
It will break down geographic/place barriers even further, and implications for call center functionality, patient navigation, CRM software, webconferencing, etc.
We have made the decision that any new phone systems we acquired be IP telephony-compatible – we have some biggies coming due…