IP PBX deployments continue to rise
Cost, complexity still an issueBy Denise Dubie and Tim Greene
Reports show that companies in 2007 boosted their spending on IP PBXes, a trend that should continue for at least a couple more years, given that migrating to the technology typically doesn't happen overnight.
Forrester Research last summer surveyed 516 landline voice decision makers in North American and Europe to gauge their interest in IP telephony. Results show that more than half (54%) of those polled had plans to increase their budgets for IP PBX systems and services last year, with migrations most likely wrapping up in the next few years.
The research firm attributed this growth to diminishing concerns over reliability and resiliency, as well as declining costs, and credits an ever-increasing mobile workforce as forcing more companies to consider IP telephony.
"The market for IP telephony will continue to evolve beyond basic telephony upgrades, as enterprises demand increased flexibility and mobile solutions for their workers," the report said.
However, other studies show that while plans to deploy VoIP are expanding, enterprises still have a hard time justifying costs to upper management.
According to a survey conducted last spring by BT INS, 62% of respondents either have deployed or are in the process of deploying VoIP across their networks, up from 44% in 2005. Another 18% are designing or testing VoIP deployments for limited network segments.
In 2005, justifying costs to upper management ranked fifth among a list of 15 possible barriers to adoption. Last year, that worry rose to the top of the list, as 46% said it was a significant barrier.
Cost justification shared the top spot with technical integration issues, which 46% of respondents cited as a significant barrier. The cost of network upgrades to support QoS ranked third among the barriers to adoption, cited by 41%. Concern over lack of standards dropped slightly; just 28% listed it as a concern this year.
The survey also reflects a shift in how customers plan to deploy VoIP. In 2005, 57% said they would gradually replace traditional telephony gear with VoIP gear. That number has shrunk to 39%. Now 45% said they would either replace their traditional PBX with an IP PBX or other VoIP products.
BT INS asked respondents to rank a list of criteria for choosing VoIP on a scale from "not at all important" to "very important." The top five criteria, in order, are network reliability, voice quality, security, network manageability and service guarantees. All five were criteria cited as very important in 2005, as voice quality gained more importance in 2007.
Meanwhile, the biggest hurdle to overcome in replacing traditional phone services with a VoIP service is demonstrating cost savings; 32% of respondents cited that problem. Roughly 22% said the possibility of lower voice quality in combination with network availability was listed as a top obstacle.