Firms adopt VoIP, but struggle with unified comms

IP telephony is still growing among UK firms, but they are struggling when it comes to rolling out unified communications.

IP telephony is still growing among UK firms, but they are struggling when it comes to rolling out unified communications.

A survey of senior IT managers at 100 UK firms, commissioned by comms firm TeleWare, found that there was a high take-up of voice over IP (VoIP), but a lack of adoption and understanding of the value of unified communication.

Unified comms can cut costs through converged networks and enable easier contact with colleagues through a wider choice of contact technologies.

The survey found that almost 80% of firms have a clear VoIP strategy, having either deployed or being in the process of evaluating deployment, but only 5% have implemented rudimentary unified voice and data communications systems, and only 16% have integrated voice with another data application.

"The move to VoIP for many organisations is almost taken for granted now," said Lesley Hansen, group marketing director at TeleWare. "The challenge now is building the next layer of useful services on top of a converged data and voice network, and the survey seems to highlight the struggle UK organisations are having with the idea of unified communications," she said.

Hansen said part of the problem lies in confusion around interoperability.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of the companies questioned used two or more telephony suppliers, and only a third of this sample had definite plans to standardise on a single supplier.

Many firms considered it a moderate to major problem to consolidate telephony services and dial plans across multiple suppliers' telephony systems.

"Many organisations, especially at the larger end, tend to inherit private branch exchanges from multiple suppliers because of consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, which makes standardisation on a single supplier trickier," Hansen said.

"There seems to be an assumption that it is difficult to integrate telephony systems from different sources into a consolidated telephony system, which is somewhat of a myth propagated by hardware suppliers," she said.

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