Why VoIP is Changing the Way We Work

An interesting article in the BBC finance section a while ago highlighted how more and more businesses are running virtual offices with employees all around the world collaborating through unified communications.

So even though I am freelance I can talk to clients in the Caribbean via Skype, and work on a project with them at the same time via Google Docs.

Although there will always be important aspects to face to face contact, in truth this new way of working can benefit everyone. There is no need to waste huge amounts of time and money hopping on trains or planes all the time, to say nothing of the negative effect that all those carbon emissions have on the planet.

Businesses benefit hugely because they get rid of the massive amount of costs and responsibilities that come about with employing someone full time, especially all those extra taxes and employer contributions.

Studies have also shown that remote workers are in fact more productive. They get to manage their own time and in doing so are more efficient with it on the whole. Many feel that they have something extra to prove by not being in an office and so work doubly hard.

VoIP Fraud is now Microsoft's Problem

An interesting article here describes the problems that large companies face as they try to diversify – specifically the move of Microsoft from software towards IP telephony.

While both areas are highly regulated, moving into the world of Voice over Internet Protocol through their highly publicized purchase of Skype certainly presents new challenges.

Hence the slew of articles about Microsoft enabling the ability to eavesdrop on VoIP conversations. While this was initially interpreted by some as a sort of Orwellian invasion of privacy, in fact this is a legal requirement.

Law enforcement needs to be able to have access to VoIP call transcripts for the purposes of terrorism prevention. VoIP solutions have many good aspects but they can also be used for nefarious purposes as it is much harder to track the original of a VoIP call. This is in danger of making the infamous wiretapping way of police work (as depicted in the excellent drama series The Wire) obsolete.

IP telephony calls are so hard to trace that India, which has seen a boom in VoIP used by criminals and terrorists, made efforts to ban some smartphones last year.

While Microsoft is now facing the same challenges, it will have to come up with a very innovative solution to the problem.