VoIP – The Generation Game

As newly commissioned research by Zycko shows that UK enterprise IT managers see more drivers than barriers to VoIP adoption in 2006, Phil Marshman, Director of VoIP Solutions at Zycko, discusses 3rd generation VoIP solutions and opportunities for the channel.

As we reach the summer of 2006, the market for VoIP is finally taking off, which is not a statement many within the channel would have been confident making one year ago.

According to a Vanson Bourne survey of 3,000 UK enterprise IT managers, 57% will review their voice and data requirements to move towards a converged service in 2006, 54% feel that there are more advantages than barriers to VoIP adoption and 73% would embrace convergence as a means of cutting business operational costs. But what is behind this change in attitudes from one year ago? Put simply – technology, or more particularly, the evolvement of VoIP technology towards 3rd generation open standards solutions.

We have already seen a clear rise in the demand for 3rd generation VoIP solutions from our channel partners that are based on best of breed, open standards technology and which provide IT managers with the benefits of flexibility, scalability and cost effectiveness. Due to their open protocol, these solutions can enable the end user to use their existing developer environments to produce bespoke communications functionality according to their specific business needs, such as “Click to Call”, without having to be telephony experts or reliant on the proprietary control systems that accompanied 2nd or 1st generation solutions.

For resellers, with its open standards architecture and protocol, 3rd generation VoIP provides the channel with the opportunity to sell truly “plug and play” solutions and, as the Vanson Bourne survey illustrates, with 21% of IT managers citing lack of knowledge about VoIP solutions as a barrier to reviewing their voice and data requirements, there is obviously a massive revenue opportunity here for the channel to capitalise on during 2006

However, continual reseller education and training are key to ensure this happens and, in conjunction with distributors, re-sellers also need to be able to further develop their consultative approach to sales to ensure they truly understand the dynamics of each business which is considering adopting a VoIP solution.

As a pointer for where VoIP resellers should be looking to target their efforts, Vanson Bourne figures show that the Financial Services sector is leading the way towards VoIP with 40% of its IT managers already having a VoIP solution and a further 32% looking to introduce one this year, which is not surprising given the sector’s need for international business communications. However, the survey also shows that there a major opportunities for the channel in the both the Manufacturing and Retail, Distribution and Transport sectors, with respectively 22% and 26% of IT managers looking to move to VoIP during 2006.

In conclusion, whilst the UK industry is still in the early adoption stages, it is clear that IT managers across the UK now fully understand the major business benefits that VoIP can deliver. Crucially, 3rd generation VoIP provides resellers with solutions that are rapid and easy to integrate for the end user and therefore they will have a major part to play in ensuring that the VoIP market not only takes off but also continues to grow long into the future.