Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony offers organizations the greatest opportunity for productivity gains, according to the results of a new Web poll by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

The poll asked which of nine different converged applications would

provide the greatest productivity gain for an organization. By a wide margin – 34.2 per cent – respondents said VoIP will deliver the greatest productivity improvements.

Call center applications, such as automatic call distributors and screen pops, ranked second in the poll at 12 per cent; followed by Web conferencing applications, at 9.7 per cent. Other converged applications mentioned in the poll results included IP phones and softphones (8.5 per cent); unified messaging systems (8 per cent); video phones (6.8 per cent); find-me/follow-me phone and messaging services (4.4 per cent); fax servers (4 per cent); and interactive voice response systems (3.2 per cent).

Organizations that have deployed VoIP networks and other IP-enabled converged services and applications are finding that they can significantly improve their communications, both internally among co-workers and externally with customers and business partners.

The proprietary architecture of most traditional telephony systems makes it cost-prohibitive for many organizations to add new features and functionalities. With an IP-based communications network, system enhancements are done with software downloads and require minimal new hardware. For example, a business with a VoIP network can easily add an IP-based voice mail system within its main data center as a central repository for all voice messages, lowering costs and transport fees by eliminating legacy voicemail systems deployed in multiple locations.

From there it’s a short jump to a unified communications application that give employees convenient one-stop access to all messages (voice, e-mail and fax) using their choice of access device -phone, PC, e-mail client, Web browser, wireless handset, or personal digital assistant.

Another advantage made possible by VoIP is the ease in which employee moves, adds and changes can be accomplished. Traditional telephony typically requires costly service calls to physically relocate hardware and modify system software. With IP-based systems, moving a phone is comparable to relocating a laptop computer within the office.

CompTIA is working with organizations in the converged applications industry to promote the growth of convergent technologies in business and residential settings. Key areas of focus include developing new business best practices tools for solution providers; skills development; and investigating the need for a vendor-neutral convergence certification.

More than 500 individuals participated in the Web poll.

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