Voice over IP (VoIP) adoption continues to rise at a steady rate among North American corporations, according to Infonetics' most recent study on user plans.
Intended as a study to assist manufacturers and service providers evaluating the market potential in VoIP over the next several years, the study looked at multiple factors, including different implementation plans, adoption rates, trends, drivers and barriers.
Infonetics conducted interviews with 240 small, medium and large organizations, the majority of which have already implemented or begun migration to VoIP, with 75% of their networks residing on an IP PBX. A small percentage continue to use hosted services based on IP Centrex, and a small percentage of the study's participants use a combination of hosted and in-house services. Corporations that are using a combination of hosted and in-house solutions include a mix of small and large enterprises, the study found, while midsized businesses tend to utilize in-house services exclusively.
Flexibility for remote workers and road warriors is still the leading driver for deploying VoIP, in addition to the much-touted cost-effectiveness of an IP-based system once it is deployed. Unified communications features also act as a catalyst for VoIP deployments.
"The idea is to get a hold of you in the best possible manner," said Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst at Infonetics Research.
VoIP is eliminating the physical limitations businesses and IT departments typically endured with their previous telephony systems. Security of voice communications is another reason many of the larger corporations are looking at VoIP.
Unified communications (UC) and its features are also major drivers for companies that decide to deploy VoIP. Its integration of multiple communications modes -- desk phones, mobile phones, email, messaging and others – has companies looking to benefit from a rise in worker productivity resulting from employing these features.
In addition to implementing IP-based phone systems, most companies are either deploying UC on their networks or laying the foundation to eventually include it. The Infonetics study also found that of VoIP applications deployed, the top two are directory and unified messaging capabilities -- which form the basic foundation of UC.
The presence capabilities of UC also add to adoption rates, yet it still lags behind VoIP.
Much like VoIP, which was ballyhooed when it first became possible and then took more than a decade to become the main voice system for 75% of corporations, UC adoption will take time to reach its full potential, Machowinski believes.
"We have all these great tools, but they work in isolation from each other," he said. "To achieve their full efficiency, they will need to be integrated into the phone."