With recent research predicting that global spending on VoIP and Unified Communications services will pass $350 billion over the next five years, I believe that such substantial investment is indicative of the business world finally waking up to the financial and operational benefits of IP telephony on a large scale.

The report, produced by market research firm Infonetics Research, forecasts that cumulative spending on VoIP and UC services across enterprise and residential sectors combined will reach a staggering $377 billion for the period 2012-2016.

I sees signs that businesses are now ready to fully embrace new technologies to improve their productivity: The research shows that managed IP PBX is already the largest segment of the business VoIP services market, accounting for 15 per cent of all new IP PBX lines, and that will surely only rise as the benefits become even clearer.

Being a visual as well as aural medium, VoIP delivers much-improved versatility to enterprise communications. Employees can keep in touch with each other and with clients both in and out of the office, and on any Internet-enabled device – a real boon in industries such as construction, where managers and workers alike need to be constantly available as they move between dispersed sites.

The financial benefits of VoIP deployment can extend beyond increases to the enterprise’s productivity. Ultimately, economic conditions mean that CFOs and buyers are constantly challenged to do more with less.

Implementing a managed IP telephony system is a great way to increase operational efficiency while also driving down costs: the provider bears the burden of maintaining the infrastructure (which is in any case less costly than that of traditional phone companies), the costs associated with employee moves, adds, and changes are virtually eliminated, and the ability to run a combined voice and data network reduces costs even further.