The promise of IP telephony has been around for awhile. Some form of PBX and data integration has been around since the 80's. On many levels, the decision to integrate data and voice is a logical one, but while the technology has evolved, the decision making process hasn't. Moving to IPT is still a major decision. This excerpt from Kevin Brown's book IP Telephony Unveiled (Cisco Press), provided courtesy of InformIT, discusses the questions every business should ask before undertaking an IPT installation.
IP telephony is more than just reduced Moves, Adds, and Changes (MAC). It has become more than simplified or reduced cabling. It transcends reduced maintenance costs. All those are important, and they can help control costs. However, to truly appreciate the potential of IP telephony, telephones must be seen as new clients. Look past the handset and dialing pad, and envision a workstation running on the network and talking to applications—applications that are used to assist companies in running their day-to-day business operations. So the challenge facing businesses today as they look at IP telephony is to understand the technology in its capacity as a client. To do this, businesses need to ask key questions:
- How will deploying IPT bring about change in the way I do business?
- How will deploying IPT enable me to better control costs in my organization?
- How will deploying IPT enable me to more easily achieve the business objectives and corporate initiatives my company has in place?
These three questions represent the fork in the road for companies investigating IP telephony. Asking these questions raises the stakes considerably by forcing businesses to consider the impact that IPT will have on the company's operations, and on its budgets.
The early attempts to integrate voice and data in the 1980s certainly provided productivity gains. They also provided cost savings through simplified wiring, sharing of resources, and a reduction in the cost of data workstations. Yet these integration attempts did so at a cost most organizations found too steep (in response time and availability of host resources, as previously noted.) The point of any technology, and IP telephony in particular, is to enable companies to achieve business results, to impact business processes. As Maurice Ficklin, IS Manager at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff notes, technology should level the playing field between companies, regardless of size and/or scope.
In this respect, IP telephony fits the bill. From the small company to the large enterprise, IPT can truly positively impact business process—if that is the desired goal of the company. Companies are looking for new ways to generate revenue, to control costs, to satisfy their customers and employees, to drive productivity, and to competitively differentiate themselves.
How IP telephony impacts these key initiatives in your organization is up to you—and your vision of this technology. You will find that based on your paradigm (an often overused word, but applicable here), IPT is either a new telephone system, or a network-based business model designed to drive change and improvement in your business processes.
Read more about the case for IPT at InformIT.