VoIP is ready for prime time

As leading telecommunications analysts and consultants, one of the questions we are asked frequently is…””What and when are customers spending their IT and telecom investments on””?

It is always an interesting question to answer in that, compared to traditional research houses, we are directly

involved with helping large distributed enterprises develop their strategies and architectures for their next-generation technology infrastructures. We also help them also determine which vendors they should be working with, providing products and support services for their data, voice and call centre technologies.

During the past three years, most of our enterprise clients’ technology investments were primarily focused on software upgrades and maintenance services with little or no “”net new”” technology investments. There was some “”technology investigation”” investments in VoIP feasibility, but generally our enterprise clients maintained the status quo.

Many of the organizations also reduced their IT and telecom headcount through a combination of early retirement, layoffs or through attrition. The existing staff have primarily focused on maintaining the day-to-day operations with little or no time available allocated for projects that involved emerging technologies such as VoIP. We have been engaged to help clients develop preliminary feasibility plans of migrating to VoIP technologies, but this was from a very high level, and with a view of three to five years out prior to investments.

We have seen a recent shift from several of our client organizations where they are now more actively investigating the possible strategies, architectures, migration plans and skills required to effectively deploy and support next-generation VoIP technologies.

One of the interesting considerations is whether they should directly invest their capital in VoIP technologies, or alternatively, should they deploy as a managed services from a service provider.

We believe some of the reasons for this alternative approach as as follows:

Knowledge and skills required to design, deploy – Converged IT, data and voice skills required to manage VoIP solutions;

Concerns about ownership, accountability and lack of experience with VoIP technologies within the Information Technology department

Where does it fit? We have taken part in numerous discussions related to the concerns by senior leaders about the political challenges of finding a home and owner for VoIP.

Does it fit within data, IT, voice departments?

Who should own the next generation VoIP solutions, let alone, deploy and manage it?

We believe that VoIP technology and supporting solutions are now ready for prime time.

VoIP technology can be stable and reliable if properly designed and deployed. But conversely, from our own hands-on experience in testing multiple VoIP solutions, the technology skills and ownership issues are the next area that has to be answered in order for customers to start re-investing in telecommunications technology.

Those manufacturers and service providers that help organizations deal with the human factors of VoIP and other emerging technologies will gain the confidence and mindshare of enterprise customers in the future.

Roberta J. Fox is a senior partner at Fox Group and managing director at Grayfox Institute. You can contact Roberta Fox at Roberta.Fox@foxgroup.ca.

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