Despite the industry promoting Voice over IP products for over 10 years, until recently the take-up has been limited to cases where the legacy Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is end of life or there is a requirement for a new location. The primary reasons for this can be summarised as follows:
- The business case focused too much on inaccurate assumptions about cost reduction associated with Install/Add/Move and Change (IMAC), infrastructure convergence as well as maintenance costs
- Underestimation of the complexity of legacy PBX architectures meant that many enterprises failed to quickly consolidate their voice infrastructure which resulted in parallel costs and delayed ROI
- Underestimation of upgrade costs to the network switching infrastructure needed to be able to support Voice over IP (Power over Ethernet, WAN upgrades, quality of service and increased resiliency)
- Organisations failing to realise the potential of soft phones and continuing to adopt expensive IP handsets
Unified Communication on the other hand is an umbrella of products (data, voice, video and mobility) that integrate closely leveraging IP networks to deliver a more effective way of collaboration while delivering real business benefits. This is fundamentally a new approach to deploying communication technologies to the enterprise compared with legacy standalone voice, data and video silo services with increased cost and complexity.
UC is significantly more than just VOIP as it introduces new features that empower and enable employees to collaborate in real time and more effectively thanks to the following:
- Peer to peer voice and video conferencing
- Web and video conferencing
- Desktop sharing
- Instant messaging
- Fixed mobile convergence (single number and seamless handover)
- Consistent use experience regardless of location
Communication Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) opens up opportunities for business process re-engineering and integrating voice enabled applications as part of CRM and ERP applications - for example proactive interactive voice response (IVR) systems or UC enabled CRM systems.
Enterprises should consider VOIP as a small part of an overall and integrated Unified Communication strategy and a roadmap that takes into consideration a holistic view of current and future collaboration needs. Explore UC capabilities to devise new ways of working that will deliver benefits beyond just the pure financial ones, such as: more distributed yet effective teams, flexible working, attracting and retaining generation Y talent and better collaboration upstream and downstream in the value chain.