Today there is a real appetite amongst UK midsize businesses for IP telephony services. A recent survey conducted for Colt by Vanson Bourne found that nearly 90 per cent of those questioned have already rolled out IP telephony or plan to introduce IP telephony services by 2009.
“IP telephony solutions have been around for 10 plus years and the adoption rates we are now seeing in 2006 prove that the technology is now fit for enterprise use. At Colt we have seen significant interest and are already servicing a number of customers since our product’s launch in February this year. Other proof can be seen that providers like Avaya are now shipping more VoIP technology solutions than old fashioned TDM ones. However, companies signing up for IP telephony need to think of whether they want to opt for a free consumer grade service which may not be suitable for business purposes or pay to get an enterprise quality solution.
All small to midsize businesses, predicting expansion and growth should consider VoIP. Additionally, those looking to move premises, consolidate to a new IP network, upgrade their old PBXs are all well placed to consider IP Telephony. Businesses looking for a flexible, reliable, efficient, cost effective and secure managed service should be looking at this technology.”
Why VoIP? What are the real benefits – if VoIP is a “solution”, what exactly is the “problem”?
It is probably worth making a clear distinction here over what services are available:
• There are the free services from the likes of Skype. These come in the form of a little piece of software that users down load and this then allows you to make free calls to other Skype users and really cheap calls to ordinary phones using the public internet. However there are no service guarantees and recent research suggests that the quality of these services is reducing.
• The other option is to look for a business grade IP telephony such as Colt’s IP Voice solution. These services are paid-for but are backed by service level guarantees to ensure that the services run to the call-quality we expect from today’s phones. Additionally, Colt’s IP Voice hosted, managed solution comes with the option of flat-rate pricing, a minimal capital expenditure model and with several hundred traditional PBX telephony features, in addition to new IP-enabled functionality such as using a ‘soft phone’ to make calls via the computer or the ability to take your extension number wherever you go. Additional services in development include video telephony, hosted voice recording and fixed-mobile convergence services.
VoIP offers many benefits to the expanding SME. It is a flexible, reliable, secure and cost effective service. It enables businesses to take advantage of faster connectivity over traditional telephony. It offers converged communication, remote access plus numerous messaging tools including quick and shared messaging.
Organisations are now turning to IP Telephony to deliver a wide variety of multi channel services, whilst reducing costs and improving performance.
What are the pros and cons?
The findings from the research Colt commissioned revealed that although cost-savings were cited as the key driver for IP telephony adoption, UK organisations were quickly recognising the wider, value-added corporate benefits. These include increased employee flexibility, the potential for a larger mobile workforce and significantly greater improvements in business efficiencies.
Although there are significant benefits to be achieved, companies need to recognise that moving to IP telephony is still a major change for an organisation and therefore should not undertake the transition lightly. This is one of the key factors why many organisations are now looking to managed services. Another aspect that companies seem to be finding challenging is where the impetus to move to IP telephony comes from a focus on just cost-savings. While there should be some cost-savings to be achieved, often from consolidating two networks into one and on call charges, those businesses that purely focus on this aspect are likely to be disappointed. Instead, businesses should be looking to the other benefits that can be achieved as outlined above.
The next stage…what about SoIP?
Solutions over IP are a trend that the market will eventually come to deliver and development of such technology is a topic that is key to Colt current activities. At present the network is moving through the application layers at, which currently Colt operate its managed service products such as LANLink and Voice Line. In the future these applications will be developed to offer more value added products in the managed services arena, that offer distinct advantages to businesses such as taking care of data management and storage, which is currently one of the biggest areas IT managers are trying to tackle. In this way Colt managed services will evolve to enhance their client experience and also allow IT managers to concentrate on the day to day running as well as internal projects.