Google Voice: What Does It Mean for Telecom Expense Management?

Google Voice is one of the most exciting new developments in telecommunications services. Google has had a mixed record when it comes to entering the telecom market, but there’s no debate that it very much wants to be a part of that industry. Unfortunately for the company, it has only enjoyed mixed reception to its initiatives. Google 411 isn’t exactly the go-to for directory assistance. Google Android is an interesting development, but the attached phones haven’t overtaken the popularity juggernauts of the Blackberry and iPhone.Â

Google Voice is different. It doesn’t rely on any particular carrier and its services are free. The base technology seems to be former company Grand Central’s VoIP number forwarding service, which Google acquired in 2007. Users can receive calls at a specified phone whenever they get calls at a number assigned by the service. Google Voice is a significant expansion beyond voice forwarding, however. Features include web-based voicemail access, automatic transcription, conference calls, free VoIP calls, SMS functions and more. How will this affect telecom expense management?

All in all, it’s a formidable set of features that, if integrated into the right cell phone plan, promises to add numerous functions that might incur a significant cost if their equivalents were purchased from a provider. Will this actually translate to savings? It depends on how user friendly Google Voice is, and how well it fits users’ working needs. If you’re looking to save on company mobile expenses with Google Voice, you’ll want to try it out for personal calls first. Ask yourself whether Voice can support any part of your workflow that is currently occupied by pay services. Once you’ve figured that out you’ll know what you need in terms of pay services. After that, lowering your costs is a cellular expense management issue.Â

Unfortunately, as of the time of writing (March 13, 2009) Google Voice is only available to US customers – right now, former Grand Central users, though Google promises to make it generally available in a matter of weeks. If it takes off, it may not only offer a whole range of free “toys” for consumers, but might exert pressure on telecom service providers to change their offerings. If enough people know about it, you can’t charge for something Google’s giving away for free.