You may not have considered it but there are many benefits that businesses can achieve by utilising data networks to carry their voice traffic (VoIP). By marrying this voice traffic with data traffic (IP Telephony) it becomes even more powerful.
Here are a few examples;
Cheaper Phone Calls - as your utilising existing data networks
Simpler Infrastructure - one set of CAT5 cables
Scalable - simply extend the existing data network
Reduced Operating Costs - converged system is simpler to manage
Enhanced Customer Service - "Click to Talk" web services and easy role out application like call centres
Flexibility - Remote or home workers can work as if in the office
Its fair to say that most people focus on the costs savings but in most cases the business improvements far out way the costs savings.
For example if your business operated from multiple sites it would be possible to have a single centralised system located at one site, with optimal staffing resources to operate, manage and support. No need to have 3 receptionists when one will do!
Say you had staff that wanted to work from home or from a remote office. With this technology it would be easy to give them the look and feel of being in the office and the transparency that their co-workers and customers enjoy.
Rolling out a distributed business application such as a contact centre or call centre is much easier and more robust.
But....its not that simple to get right!
You must consider;
Quality of Service - across the data network
Reliability ? Think when did your LAN / telephone system last fail?
Security - May increase exposure to data and voice
Support - Which department is now responsible - training?
With the latest handsets it is possible for them to act like a PC with their own IP address and with the right handsets they can even run XML applications cutting down the need for unnecessary PC's etc.
To get it right requires the right planning and foresight to make sure that your systems will grow and deliver the maximum benefit with the minimum risk.
Copyright 2005 Nicholas Windley
About The Author
Nicholas Windley is a strategic ICT consultant with Comz4Biz and business owner.
Business Phone Systems : Comz4Biz Mercia
Telephone System Education Zone
Voice Over IP (VoIP) Education Zone