The benefits that voice over IP (VoIP) provides for the communications needs of all types of organizations are almost endless, including mobility, flexibility, economy, and interoperability. One advantage that is key to the future of the technology is its ability to be easily integrated with many different software platforms using what are known as application programming interfaces (APIs).
In this article, we examine why VoIP integrations are so important and what they mean for communications, both today and in the future.
The application programming interface
An API is a computing interface that defines interactions between multiple software entities. Simply put, it is a set of specifically defined parameters that a software developer builds into its software, to allow other applications to interact with it.
For example, Yealink Meetings uses a Microsoft Outlook Calendar API to enable you to schedule a meeting using Outlook and then view and interact with that meeting via the IP phone user interface.
Why APIs are so prevalent
Even though APIs have been around as a concept for decades, it is only recently that they have become so ubiquitous. In the past, they were primarily used to integrate two or more software entities within the same device. Nowadays, the prevalence of network-enabled software and applications, mobile apps, and cloud services have made APIs indispensable for applications seeking to be integrated over the data network, and this is why we see such a surge of API usage today.
Network service developers and providers that integrate APIs into their applications increase the usefulness and value of their software. Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, among which you will find many VoIP services, can especially benefit. The more functional and effective the integration, the more beneficial and attractive the service becomes and the larger the potential customer-base.
Examples of VoIP integrations using APIs
Because VoIP is simply one more network service running on the same infrastructure as all network services, it can, by its very nature, be easily integrated with other network services. VoIP services can act as both the API provider, offering a software interface for third-party developers to leverage, as well as the API user, which involves the VoIP service leveraging the API of another software service or platform.
APIs can provide you with quick-dial calling buttons on your helpdesk application, voice communication via a web page, and integration of your VoIP desk phone with third-party collaboration services.
The following are some examples of the use of APIs with VoIP services.
Using an API, a cloud-based help desk platform can be integrated with your VoIP system. Some of the most useful features this introduces include:
- A “call” button on a ticket that you can click that will cause your desk phone to initiate an outgoing call to the person who originally called in the ticket.
- Call information per ticket and per user can be gathered and analyzed, giving a better understanding of helpdesk workflows.
- Automatic ticket creation with the caller’s basic information can be achieved whenever a call comes in.
- Help desk statistics can include voice communication elements such as the number of calls per ticket, call duration, and agent proactivity (agents proactively calling the user about their issue rather than the other way around).
Web/mobile app in app calling
Some mobile apps, such as airline ticket reservation apps, have a built-in voice communication functionality that allows you to make a VoIP call directly from within the app itself. The app provides a SIP interface that connects to the developer’s (or a third party’s) SIP server to establish a voice call to a company agent.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM applications are vital for many businesses to maintain and manage the relationships with their customers. CRM suites permit a company to analyze its interactions with past, current, and potential customers. When integrated with CRM platforms, voice services can deliver an even richer CRM experience by streamlining workflows and populating the CRM database with caller details, as well as providing centralized call history, call matching, and click-to-call mechanisms, among others.
Build your own API VoIP integration
For enterprises requiring more customized software integration, many VoIP manufacturers and services provide APIs that you can use to create your own interactions with the applications and services you use. With the right resources and information, useful API integrations can be created and developed that conform to your needs. The possibilities are endless.
The ability of VoIP voice services to run on the same packet-switched data infrastructure as other network services allows virtually limitless potential for systems integrations. This enables a more streamlined and robust network application ecosystem that increases productivity while decreasing complexity—a combination that can be considered a holy grail in business.
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