Business unprepared for VoIP complexity

Although IP telephony is now firmly entrenched in the corporate sector, the vast majority of IT managers still have no idea that managing voice is far more complex than managing other IP applications such as email and the internet.

On Tuesday, a survey carried out by Vanson Bourne, on behalf of voice and video quality management firm Psytechnics, revealed that over half (53 per cent) of UK IT managers are concerned about or experiencing call quality issues from IP telephony implementations.

The survey found that two out of three large UK businesses are now using IP voice but nine out of ten managers are unprepared for the complexities of the technology.

Anthony Finbow, CEO of Psytechnics, told that the quality of service of an IP application like voice is not the same as the user experience. “Everything can look as it should on a technical level,” he said, “but you might still have a poor user experience, such as noise on the line or dropped calls.”

Finbow said that around half of UK net work managers will now have to contend with managing IP telephony as well as data services such as email and web. But there is a considerable level of unpreparedness amongst technology managers.

Listening and conversational factors have a marked effect on the perception of call quality and while current tools analyse the delivery of voice packets, they do not perform deep packet inspection to determine impairments such as echo, noise level and speech distortion.

Worryingly, 32 per cent of respondents said they do not anticipate any quality issues with IP voice, while 11 per cent believe such issues would be easily resolved.

The survey found that half of UK companies using IP telephony use it across the board, both internally and for external customer communications. The financial services sector is the most advanced, with four out of five firms using the technology, suggesting that most banks, mortgage and credit card providers already speak to customers using IP telephony.

Finbow believes that IP is not being selected as a voice carrier just to cut costs anymore, “it’s also about the value added services such as click to call and presence,” he said.

This was echoed by Ian Robin, VP of VoIP integrator VoSKY, who recently told that the proliferation of services such as Skype in the consumer space make VoIP more attractive to the enterprise because of the more attractive and direct link to customers through technologies such as click to call.

VoSKY implements Skype in the enterprise environment, integrating it with the corporate PBX. Robin said that 30 per cent of Skype’s user base is made up of SMEs.

The research also showed a dawning recognition for a designated communications specialist within the enterprise. However, only one in ten firms at present see the value of a manger specifically charged with managing a company’s communications.

Vanson Bourne OmniBoss conducted the survey in May 2007, questioning IT managers in large organisations with over 1000 employees.

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