Cloud computing and open source software have become an integral part of daily business operations, regardless of a company’s size or its nature of operations. Cloud computing saves server space, reduces energy costs, and allows employees to connect to critical applications from any computer. And through cloud-based internet telephony, employees can remain connected by voice to their through their personal computers and mobile devices.
Many companies are taking advantage of internet telephony in the form of open source softphone technology. These systems allow the workforce to operate on a unified network, no matter where they may be physically located. Through internet telephony and open source softphones, daily operations can be conducted at a lower cost, with greater flexibility, and with a reduced carbon output.
What Does “Open Source” Mean?
The term “open source” gets tossed around quite a bit when talking about software. But what does it really mean? Most of the software that is purchased off-the-shelf is what’s known as “compiled.” Compiled means that the coding that was used to develop the software (the source code) has been run through a program that translates the code in a way that the computer can understand. Complied software is “locked.” It very difficult to modify, and it can be quite impossible to see precisely how the developer created the program. Major software producers compile their products as a means of quality control and protecting their interests against competitors.
Open source software takes the exact opposite approach. All source code is made available with the compiled version of a program. In fact, customization and modifications are encouraged. Developers who operate in the open source camp believe that giving everyone access to all code can improve the software over time.
What, Exactly, is a Softphone?
The rise of IP telephony for business has led to the development of softphones. Softphones are not actual telephones. They are software that allow users to place telephone calls over the internet directly from their laptop or desktop computer. Think of placing a call from your computer through Skype – that is softphone technology.
So how to open source softphones work? They allow users to communicate freely over the internet via voice, text, instant message, or video. Users can download and redistribute the softphone software as they like, and it is able to be used on a variety of platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile, etc.).
When companies begin investigating open source softphones, they may come across the term “WebRTC.” WebRTC is a specialized open framework that stands for “real time communication.” This simply means that users can instantly communicate with one another through the internet, without the need to download and install extra programs.
WebRTC works through a web page, rather than outside software. Users can communicate with each other through voice, video conference, instant messaging, simply by visiting a website. Some examples of WebRTC in action include:
Video customer service chats – clients simply visit a contact page to connect with an agent face-to-face.
Real time document collaboration between employees.
Video conferencing through smart TV’s (eliminating the need for extra cables and AV equipment).
Place and receive “traditional” phone calls with a single click on a web browser.
The uses for softphones and WebRTC are customizable based on the needs of an organization. Communication is completely personalized, without having to add extra hardware or infrastructure.
How do Open Source Softphones Reduce Carbon Footprint?
Open source softphones can benefit businesses by saving them money – internet telephony is far less expensive than traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTN). They use the infrastructure that an organization already has in place to connect users with the PSTN. They can be scaled as-needed without adding extra hardware, and advanced features can be added at a much lower cost.
They also help employees stay connected with one another, and with customers, no matter where they may be. While traveling, key team members can connect to the company network from their open source softphone, right from their laptop. All calls will appear to come directly from their office line.
But softphones can also help organizations reduce their overall carbon footprint. Sustainability is becoming more and more important for business operations. A commitment to sustainability saves money and improves a company’s public persona. But how can a simple telephone software application help reduce carbon footprint?
The internet has made it less imperative for all employees to operate out of a corporate headquarters. Remote workers can now access critical applications via the cloud, which means they can conduct their daily activities from any location. A virtual workforce significantly reduces a company’s daily energy consumption and carbon output. And when workers do not have to physically travel to work, they can save 340 gallons of gas per year, and reduce their carbon emissions by three tons. A typical commuter with a one-way commute of 22 miles can save around 80,000 Megajoules of energy simply by working from home on a regular basis.
Through the use of internet telephony and open source softphones, organizations can offer their employees a more flexible work schedule, while allowing them to remain connected to the company network. This simple and customizable technology can open the door for companies to conduct business efficiently, while reducing their overall carbon footprint.