Phil Marshman, Director of VoIP Solutions at Zycko says 2006 has so far been the year of VoIP with UK businesses slowly adopting the technology to drive down their telecom costs, enjoy improved telecom services such as video conferencing and make it easier for employees in different offices and locations to communicate cost effectively. Another story will however be how service providers will differentiate their products in an increasingly competitive market? Ultimately, who will win the forthcoming VoIP wars and how?
It will not be revenue from voice calls that will drive the VoIP market in the longer term. Service providers will have to look at more advanced technology and the benefits they can truly offer businesses if they want to steal market share.
Some applications, such as click to call and virtual white board, which allow users to click on a contact name to make a call or participate in collaborative internet-based brainstorm sessions, are now commonly available to businesses and it is these types of differentiated services, rather than pure voice calls, that will drive the VoIP market in the long-term.
The demand for these types of productivity applications, which stem from 3rd generation VoIP solutions, is growing from business users and we at Zycko have already seen a clear rise in the demand for 3rd generation based solutions from our channel partners. These solutions are based on best of breed, open standards technology and provide IT managers with the benefits of flexibility, scalability and cost effectiveness.
Market outlook for 2006
Research commissioned by Zycko and carried out by Vanson Bourne earlier this year showed that the Financial Services sector continues to be an early adopter of VoIP with 72 % of UK companies surveyed due to have a VoIP solution installed by the end of this year. The Financial Services sector is characterised by businesses that are frequently calling many geographically dispersed locations on a 24 hour basis in a variety of formats, from standard voice only calls through to video conferences and full presentations. IT managers within this sector have already recognised the business benefits of a converged solution which allows this greater functionality and improved costs.
3rd generation VoIP will deliver huge benefits to many vertical markets and workgroups. For instance, if accountancy teams integrated VoIP functionality into SAP accounting software, company accountants and credit controllers would be able to click on an account entry and dial straight through to their contact at the company in question. This will not only be more convenient, but also enable organisations to benefit from cost savings and employee productivity gains.
In the wider business world, speech to text functionality is a reality for VoIP solutions. By integrating a text module into their existing communications system, users can now dictate correspondence directly into text format from their VoIP handset which again provides greater convenience, improved employee productivity and arguably quicker customer response times.
In the world of communication mobility, VoIP allows people to communicate using a choice of devices such as desk phone, laptop soft phone, PDA or video conference, but using only one inward dial number. This in turn creates new opportunities for flexible working environments, particularly for companies which have many remote or regularly traveling employees. In short, VoIP puts you back in control of how you want to be reached and therefore this is a hugely exciting time in the development of the communications market.
The industry is gradually moving from the initial VoIP adoption stage to the continued development of new applications. However, to succeed, service providers need to not only develop applications which are going to make the end-user experience better, but also ones which are as familiar as possible to a user’s current telecoms experience. This combination will truly drive the long-term growth of the VoIP market.
Finally, the industry still has much awareness raising to do on the application benefits of VoIP. According to the Vanson Bourne research, 21% of IT managers cited a lack of knowledge about VoIP solutions as a barrier to reviewing their voice and data requirements.
However, as application developments become mainstream, Zycko is confident that the VoIP market will go from strength to strength throughout 2006 and beyond.