Convergence: Signs are good but take-up is slow

An exclusive survey of Computer Weekly readers shows that work needs to be done to convince business of the benefits of...

An exclusive survey of Computer Weekly readers shows that work needs to be done to convince business of the benefits of convergence. Mike Simons reports

Converged voice and Internet protocol networks are cost effective but a majority of IT professionals have yet to be convinced of their benefit, according to a survey of Computer Weekly readers. Only 14% of respondents have implemented a converged network, with a further 32% planning to do so. Reduced cost and increased efficiency were the key drivers for those that have implemented converged networks, although a significant 43% also said convergence was important in future-proofing the organisation.

Those planning to deploy a converged network also cited cost and efficiency concerns. Some 32% were attracted to the promise of reduced infrastructure costs and 25% by improved organisational efficiency, while just 6% cited future-proofing as a driver.

The survey pointed to a gradual switch to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) networks, with 18% saying they would roll-out a converged network within 12 months, 41% between one and two years and 38% between two and five years.

For the sceptical majority (54%), which have not implemented a converged network and are not planning to, implementation costs (52%) and equipment costs (45%) were significant factors in holding back investment.

Allan Scott, director of converged solutions for Avaya in the UK & Ireland, which sponsored the survey, says, "The research shows that organisations are beginning to realise that promises made for converged networks are not fiction. Convergence can reduce network infrastructure costs and increase organisational efficiency.

"Almost half of those questioned had either implemented or were planning to implement converged networks, which 12 months ago would have been unheard of."

The survey shows that IT professionals have still not overcome the traditional problem of convincing the board about technology investments. Some 81% say senior executives are not aware of the benefits, both internally and externally of converged networks, compared to 12% who are.

The survey also reveals a potential difference of emphasis between IT professionals and board members about the costs and benefits of convergence. IT practitioners cite implementation costs as a barrier to the deployment of converged networks. However, they say lower running costs and improved responsiveness to customers are the keys to convincing the board of the value of convergence.

This is an issue that systems integrators and VoIP suppliers will have to address if they wish to convince sceptical companies of the long-term benefits of converged networks, particularly since the technology itself is already well regarded.

How the survey was carried out

More than 600 senior IT professionals in companies with more than 100 employees took part in an online Computer Weekly/Avaya survey during April. An e-mail containing a link to an online survey was sent to Computer Weekly readers who:

  • Had an e-mail address

  • Were either an overall head of IT, IT department head, IT manager, telecoms manager or network manager

  • Were involved in the areas of e-commerce/business, telecoms, networks, and network security

  • Worked for companies employing 100-plus staff

The e-mail was sent to just over 7,500 readers, of which 607 started the online survey.

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