Telco vendors are pushing for customers to migrate to VoIP systems and suppliers are promoting VoIP services such as SIP. There are so many benefits and technology enhancements when integrating these services into business processes; so why aren’t companies moving forward?
I have identified some of the opportunities available when making this change and the excuses customers are giving when confronted with the question why they aren’t moving:
Unified communications/consolidation: Companies love the idea of consolidating the various services and programs they use on a daily basis. However, in order to set up and integrate unified communications that accompany most VoIP solutions, employees must be educated about the new technology. This can involve on-site training with all employees which can be very time consuming and costly. Also, since VoIP shares the same infrastructure with a business’s data network, it can inherit all security problems from data network as well as its own security problems coming from new protocols and network components.
Improving internal communications: VoIP is known for enhancing communications within companies that have multiple locations; but this does not happen easily. In order to effectively improve your communications internally there are many infrastructure changes that must occur and each location would require new circuits or a new system that allows locations to speak to one another. Again, adding costs and additional training requirements.
Business continuity: The one thing all businesses depend on most is their phone and internet connectivity. If a business goes down, this can have a significant impact on productivity, revenue, and public image. With a VoIP solution, the high availability capability does not automatically come with the required technology or service; it needs to be designed in or planned for. Therefore, if you want your VoIP solution to be reliable you must make sure it is properly engineered and implemented along with an accompanying disaster recovery plan.
Cost savings: One of the most attractive reasons businesses chose to switch to a VoIP solution is the cost savings potential through infrastructure reduction, additional voice services and functionality at no cost, and reduction in long distance costs. What about the up-front investment in new systems and resource training? The deployment of necessary equipment is often accompanied by significant CapEx costs in addition to costs for retaining back up services such as extra POTS lines and circuits, as well as other expenses for new software licensing and security measures.
Simplify management: Most businesses hear that by moving their voice services to VoIP, it will simplify management’s requirement to handle everyday challenges that come with running a business and its technology. This may be true eventually, but converging voice and data onto one network might require parallel staffing convergence, which proves challenging to organizations unprepared to share their resources. Once the merge is complete what happens to employees who managed the voice services? Job security is a major concern for those considering this migration.
Some businesses are extremely enthusiastic about migrating to an innovative and converged solution like SIP but realize there are a lot of unexpected problems that can arise like those discussed above. Others are afraid to take the leap and are simply not ready. Whether you have just installed a new PBX, are locked into a contract, or you believe your company does not need all the features VoIP offers, it is okay to wait. Just make sure when you are ready, you are proactive and understand the total scope of the investment instead of reactive for potential problems and disruptions to your business.