By Mike Smythe, Director, Connect Better Limited

The hyping of IP Telephony first began with the technology boom of the late 1990’s. Its promise, however, took time to realise as technological hurdles, namely voice quality, network reliability and feature availability, took time to resolve. With these hurdles now overcome, IP Telephony has come of age and has proven capable of delivering cost savings and productivity increases for businesses of all sizes.

A survey amongst more than 100 UK businesses examining attitudes towards IP telephony has revealed that the take up of VoIP amongst small businesses is predicted to gather speed over the next year. The survey found that - of those businesses with 100 employees or less - 41% have already deployed VoIP technology. A further 20% are looking at deploying VoIP within their business over the coming year, showing a 50% increase in the penetration of IP telephony over the next twelve months, citing lower total cost of ownership, simpler administration and improved features as the primary drivers.

The wide adoption of IP networks and the emergence of IP Telephony have led to the convergence of what were once disparate applications (data, voice and video) onto a single network. This has eliminated many of the inefficiencies of legacy networking models and improved organisations ability to leverage from bleeding-edge technologies such as virtualizstion and cloud based computing.

Although IP Telephony can reduce complexity and cost by converging data and voice onto a single network, making the transition from traditional voice communications equipment cannot be taken for granted. To maintain the high level of reliability and quality that voice applications require with no compromise in features or flexibility requires the experience of a proven communications solutions provider.

LG-Ericsson’s approach to IP telephony has been to facilitate a clear migration path for existing customers, often allowing the reuse of key assets such as the telephone themselves, and to ensure that new customers fully understand the implications of the technology refresh. It may even be the case that a more traditional system is a better fit due to infrastructure demands; in these cases it is often prudent to adopt a ‘hybrid’ approach — mixing VoIP and older technologies to ensure the best possible return on investment.

The best fit for VoIP technology is often organisations with multiple branch offices as they can leverage IP telephony to seamlessly connect each office or location. This reduces the barriers to communications that have historically resulted in silos of information and disparate operations. Cost savings and improved efficiencies are usually the driving force behind technology change but investment in VoIP may drive changes to business practices and ways of working which can have a sociological impact too. VoIP technology allows flexible working practices such as home working or allowing field-based staff to remain connected with mobility solutions, which often improves morale and reduces workforce churn.

With VoIP connectivity, productivity enhancing applications such as voice mail and unified messaging can be centrally deployed anywhere in the network and at the same time be made accessible from anywhere there is an IP connection, reducing equipment expense and at the same time increasing the productivity and collaboration of remote and mobile employees. LG-Ericsson is connecting organisations around the world by breaking down the barriers of communications with flexible VoIP technology that works with you, not against you.

Email Mike Smythe at mike@connectbetter.co.uk and visit the website www.connectbetter.co.uk