Network equipment suppliers have urged enterprises should start thinking of internet protocol telephony as a method of gaining competitive advantages, rather than a cost-saving technology.
Avaya and Nortel Networks have said it is time to push the argument for IP telephony forward.
IP telephony should no longer be considered a way to simplify enterprise communication infrastructure and reduce costs, but a platform for productivity enhancements and fundamental business transformation which could help the user pull ahead of its competitors.
This "second-generation" IP telephony message is about "getting down to business value and applications", said Mark Bissell, director, product management at Nortel.
Attendees at the VoiceCon conference in Florida gave mixed reaction to the second-generation IP telephony message.
Keith Barlow, network services manager for Salt Lake City in Utah, pointed out that his municipality is three years into a five year project to update its wiring infrastructure. It is too soon to talk about any competitive advantages that IP telephony might offer.
"We'll definitely make the move" to IP, he said. "We're not going to buy another large PBX. But until you get the infrastructure in place, you're not going to be able to do it."
Arvind Ahuja, product manager at Packeteer, which makes network traffic management software, said many of his customers are in the early stages of exploring IP telephony are asking, "What is it going to do to my network? How will it impact my other mission-critical applications?"
Ahuja said it is too early for suppliers to push the IP telephony dialogue beyond these basics.
Ronald Gruia, a communication technology industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said equipment suppliers are talking up the advanced message for their own competitive reasons.
"You still have to drive down the message of what IP telephony is, but at the same time we've reached a plateau. All the suppliers have the technology. This is a new level of differentiation. You have to talk about it."
The enterprise could learn a thing or two by considering IP telephony in a strategic, rather than tactical manner, Gruia said.
"When you do an IP-PBX deployment, it's not just about replacing old technology with a new one. To get the full benefit of IP telephony you should look at how you're doing business now, and how you could use IP telephony to your advantage, to improve your business processes - shorten the time to get back to a customer, for example."
Stefan Dubowski writes for ITWorldCanada.com