Study: VOIP heading for mainstream

Voice over IP (VOIP) will take off this year, according to a new survey, with 54 percent of respondents believing there are more advantages than barriers to its adoption.

The survey of 3,000 U.K. enterprise IT managers, carried out by Vanson Bourne on behalf of storage, voice and networking distributor Zycko, found that 57 percent of financial services companies stated that voice and data convergence, rather than cost cutting, was the most important reason for companies to rethink their voice and data strategy in 2006.

More than half of IT managers across all industry sectors said they would consider reviewing existing systems in order to move to a converged voice and data solution this year. Nearly three-quarters said they would be prompted to review their systems to cut costs.

However, while budget considerations were a top priority for IT managers in the retail, transport and distribution sector (73 percent), and the manufacturing industry (61 percent), only 44 percent of IT managers in the financial services sector felt that cutting costs was the most important factor and instead, selected convergence as the number one driver for a systems review in 2006.

"Financial services lead the way because they tend to lead technologically in any event, and also they're not generally bound by the financial constraints other verticals have," commented Phil Marshman, director of VOIP solutions at Zycko.

A number of barriers to VOIP adoption were cited, including lack of budget (40 percent), contentment with existing suppliers (38 percent), lack of in-house resource (33 percent) and lack of knowledge about the solutions available on the market (18 percent).

Despite this, however, more than half of respondents claimed they would still consider a VOIP solution in 2006. Security was an issue for 36 percent, who said they would only consider a VOIP solution if water-tight security measures were in place.

The U.K. is still in the early stages of VOIP adoption, however. Only 23 percent have already deployed the technology, with a further 26 percent intending to introduce a solution this year.

"A lot of people have invested time and money in PBX systems," said Marshman. "But interestingly, there are no major barriers to VOIP adoption, something which I am sure wouldn't have been the case a year ago. The security issues have pretty much gone away in terms of traversing firewalls. You're seeing people putting in VOIP in, but separate to their data networks."

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