A survey amongst more than 100 UK businesses examining attitudes towards IP telephony has revealed that the take up of VoIP amongst SMBs is predicted to gather speed over the next year. The survey, which was conducted on behalf of Star, a provider of on-demand computing and communication services to UK businesses, found that – of those businesses with 100 employees or less – 41% have already deployed VoIP technology since it was first introduced in the late 1990’s. A further 20% of SMB respondents are looking at deploying VoIP within their business over the coming year, showing a 50% increase in the penetration of IP telephony over the next twelve months.
Star says that these findings reflect research conducted by Synergy Research Group where IP Telephony was found to be the fastest growing segment of the European enterprise market in 2009. Respondents to the survey also cited lack of in-house expertise in managing VoIP networks as the leading barrier to deployment of IP Telephony. This finding may go some way to explaining why sales of hosted VoIP are growing dramatically according to Illumine Consulting; specialists in converged telecoms; who estimate that the hosted VoIP segment of the market is growing 11% quarter on quarter.
It seems, however, that fears over security are now on the decline: only 9% of all respondents viewed security concerns as a potential issue, well behind other factors such as call quality, reliability, and the capabilities of the network. This shows a marked contrast with perceptions from just three years ago when nine out of ten companies surveyed by event organiser InfoSecurity Europe had VoIP security concerns.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, reduced expenditure was the key factor driving demand; with lower calling costs the most frequently cited benefit for adoption. In total, 31% of all respondents listed this as a benefit of VoIP over traditional telephony. This was closely followed by VoIP’s ability to integrate voice with applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools and the scalability of the technology, which were ranked as the second and third most popular reasons for deployment, respectively.
Commenting on the findings, Hugo Harber, Director of Convergence and Network Strategy for Star said, “It’s encouraging to see that SMBs are realising there are huge savings to be made from making the move to IP telephony. It’s long been heralded as poised for mass market adoption, and we are now starting to see that this is the case for companies of all sizes from those with less than 20 employees to organisations with 1000+ staff. The lack of a set up charge in particular has been really attractive to Star’s customers.”
He continued: “We need to remember however that managing the VoIP infrastructure demands a new set of skills and in-house expertise can be an issue for organisations that are looking to get the cost benefits of IP telephony. This is where hosted and managed IP telephony can free organisations from the management distraction of overseeing the network, hardware and software and return a consistent, reliable and guaranteed high level of service delivery.”