Board room blocks convergence

Board members are blocking the adoption of converged voice and data networks during the current cut-backs despite the belief that...

Board members are blocking the adoption of converged voice and data networks during the current cut-backs despite the belief that money can be saved through their introduction, a survey conducted by Computer Weekly and network supplier Avaya has revealed, writes Eric Doyle.

The survey of 600 IT, networking and telecoms managers working in companies that employ more than 100 people found that only 14% have made the move into convergence, but a further 32% are planning to move in the future.

Among those who have yet to implement a converged network, the costs of buying and installing the equipment were cited as major hurdles, and 33% view their companies as being too small to gain any real benefit from such changes.

Where respondents had already moved to converged networks, the main aims of the switch were to reduce infrastructure costs (71%) and increase organisational efficiency (60%). The management cost savings and time savings were secondary attractions.

It is obvious that some IT managers, having convinced themselves of the benefits of convergence, face an uphill battle with the boardroom. Just over 78% said their chief executive or managing director would need to be won over, and financial directors (77%) proved to be just as influential. But although executives make the decisions, 81% of the respondents do not believe bosses understand convergence and the benefits it can bring.

When it comes to convincing the people at the top, 93% of IT managers said cost savings were the most compelling argument. The dual benefits of improving customer responsiveness and adding customer relationship management came second with 51%. Also in the mix, organisational simplicity (49%) and future-proofing (41%) were seen as being relatively persuasive.

Streamlining the infrastructure by integrating IP telephony with data streams was seen as a major attraction of a move to convergence, and there seemed little concern about service levels and security. Only 5% of IT managers thought service levels would be poor and just 15% were worried about how secure communications would be.

Although 77% of respondents feel confident that they can effect the changes required, 41% feel that it will be necessary to wait for one or two years before doing so. Most of the rest (38%) will have to wait between two and five years, but 18% revealed plans to migrate in the next 12 months.

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