Cath Knight, Solutions Marketing Manager at Mitel, has told Comms Business Magazine that in the past year, the voice and data integration market has made significant progress and there is noticeably greater awareness and excitement about what can be achieved through IP solutions.
“Demand for IP communications is spreading into new industry sectors beyond the typical early adopters of financial services and public sector with retail, hospitality and education showing increasing interest. Uptake is also spreading to smaller businesses, with the release of specific products for their sector and an increased understanding of the business benefits of IP communications.
With regards to implementation trends we are seeing a preference for the gradual migration to IP with hybrid networks enabling businesses to retain their existing infrastructure and migrate at their own pace. In many cases new applications lead the way with respect to the decision of moving into the IP world.
In terms of success there has been strong growth in demand for IP applications, which are having a major influence on buying decisions. The drivers behind IP have evolved from a pure cost and technical play, to a desire to change working practices, attract highly skilled people, improve business processes and customer service. This is all possible through applications that enable mobile/home working, intelligent multi-media contact centres and effective team working, such as the Mitel Live Business Gateway which works in conjunction with the Microsoft Live Communications Server.
Many organisations have recognised the need to have contingency plans in place for emergency situations. Not being able to access a physical building because of terrorist threats or natural disasters can have a devastating effect on business performance. Many have recognised that by deploying mobile working or home working, staff could continue to work as normal, providing essential services to customers.
One of the challenges in the sale of converged voice and data solutions is the blurring of responsibilities on the customer side. Previously the management of voice and data networks was handled separately but now there is a requirement to understand both. As a result there is a distinct need for educating end-users.
Cultural issues also prevail in the implementation of IP solutions. Employees often resist change and resent having to learn new systems or change the way they work. The role of the reseller is therefore to ensure a clear understanding of the business benefits and a smooth implementation.
Finally, with IP infiltrating multiple business process beyond pure telephony, resellers have new skills to adopt, such as understanding business continuity strategies and desktop integration, in order to add the maximum value for their customers.”