VoIP Enterprise and Consumer Features. What's the Difference?
Professional and Non Professional
Business organizations have seen a lot of change in communication methods during the last decade. The introduction of VoIP, the rise of the BYOD culture among employees and the consumerization of IT is forcing enterprises to adapt quickly and meet changing expectations.
Employees who are used to mobile apps and "always on" connectivity in their personal lives are demanding the same quality from business applications and protocols as well. On the other hand, organizations often feel that they have to catch up to competitors in terms of IT and voice solutions. In such a scenario, quite a few companies may be tempted to use consumer grade VoIP services or encourage employees to use their own mobile VoIP apps.
However, there are significant differences between consumer and enterprise grade VoIP products which make it difficult to justify their use even as a stopgap measure. One of the biggest differences between the two will be the number of advanced features available for users. Consumers using VoIP lines in their homes rarely need or want add-ons such as conference calling, visual voicemail, fax to email etc. But for employees in an enterprise context, such features are indispensable.
Enterprise VoIP providers offer more granular control over common features that can be turned on/off for entire departments or even individual team members. Organizations generally need more flexibility than retail customers when it comes to payment plans, billing methods and integration with other enterprise solutions such as CRM databases or corporate email. Such features are not to be found in consumer services but losing them could lead to serious interruptions in the workplace.
Security and Reliability
Security features are another important area where consumer and enterprise services differ considerably. Businesses often need advanced features such as device encryption, firewall security, two factor authentication, the ability to revoke/disable passwords remotely etc. Most consumer VoIP providers will not provide enhanced security measures and losing them even temporarily can open the door to data theft or loss of confidential information.
Reliability and prompt customer service are other differentiating factors. For example, a consumer unable to place a call may get mildly annoyed but such situations can easily mean loss of contracts or clients for business users. Frequently dropped calls or low-quality VoIP service can also erode a company’s image of professionalism. Retail customers are generally limited when it comes to customer service options but enterprises need business-class support 24x7 for their VoIP networks.
In a few instances, consumers may opt for business-class services especially if they are freelancers or contractors working from home. But businesses will do well to avoid using or encouraging the use of consumer VoIP services by their employees and rely on corporate networks instead.