Greg Enright: VoIP growing but how fast?

There aren’t many network managers who would dispute the fact that Voice over IP technology offers a bounty of benefits to those who choose to undertake such a migration. For many organizations with precious little extra dinero to throw at IT overhauls, however, VoIP is akin to a 60-inch, flat-panel TV: definitely nice to have, but for most, too much of a luxury to consider seriously.

Such hesitation is largely the result of two factors: cost and the presence of existing technology that is humming along just fine and does not need replacing. On the cost front, the barrier is not in place because VoIP is overpriced, but merely because it constitutes a cost that doesn’t absolutely have to be expended. If your coffee ends up spilling into your keyboard and frying its circuits, there’s no argument – it has to be replaced. But it’s much harder to justify the replacing of a traditional PBX phone system that is working fine.

Make no mistake: VoIP is the way of the future, and a decade from now we might have a hard time remembering when phone systems weren’t of an IP nature. For the reasons listed above, however, the infiltration of VoIP into the enterprise will happen at a piecemeal pace, one much slower than many of its proponents would like you to think.

For many VoIP adopters, the decision to make the switch is finalized when the organization realizes that time is running out on its existing phone system. Whether it’s a carrier contract that is due to be terminated in the next 12 months or the presence of antiquated switches and handsets that have decided to stop working properly, the time is suddenly ripe for a change.

Unfortunately for VoIP vendors, many would-be customers can go years without having to face such a predicament. While the benefits of VoIP might be clearly understood by such firms, getting upper management to fork over the necessary funds for a purchase can be next to impossible when there really isn’t a problem with what’s in place.

However, one factor that could speed up this process and move corporate Canada fully into the VoIP realm is the sheer number of advantages that a VoIP infrastructure offers over a non-VoIP one. Some of the leading factors in this regard include the ability to lessen the reliance on a carrier’s off-premises infrastructure and a huge decrease in the cost associated with adding and moving phones within a system. Consolidating multiple aged phone systems into one VoIP setup, one with a common set of extensions and handsets, is another alluring advantage.

If VoIP sellers can keep supplying new features to convince companies to make the leap to VoIP, the pace of adoption might be quickened. Providing enhanced 911 options for municipalities via VoIP is an example of the type of move that’s required. If other improvements are slow in coming, so too might be the movement toward VoIP.