A new study commissioned by CompTIA and conducted by research organization IDC shows small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are making convergence of voice and data technologies a top priority. The issue of how to go about joining the two, however, will differ among — and even within — companies in this space.
“The benefits of converged voice and data networks are not just for the big boys,” said John Venator, CompTIA president and CEO. “Convergent technologies are changing the way even the smallest businesses look at their communications networks. It is leveling the playing field between small companies and larger competitors, allowing any organization to take advantage of the cost savings and productivity improvements afforded by convergence solutions.”
The advantages of converged networks in SMBs are many, but basically, they all come down to one thing: dexterity.
“By embracing these technologies, organizations gain enormous flexibility to manage voice and data networks together, administer the combined networks through familiar interfaces and add new features at the server and desktop level,” Venator said. “They can expand into more locations and markets without adding a lot of overhead. They can change their business model of how and when they communicate with their customers. They no longer need to be at a desk from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — they can do business from anywhere, at any time without sacrificing the productivity tools they’ve come to rely on in the office.”
Yet while IT professionals and business leaders might agree on the importance of converged networks, they might have dissimilar views about how these should be implemented, or what purpose they might serve. For instance, 46 percent of all respondents said the reason for their move toward convergence was savings generated through streamlining business processes, 30 percent said cost-cutting within IT and other communications spending and 23 percent said initiatives to launch new services or capabilities.
Streamlining business processes was a greater driver among business respondents, while IT respondents were more interested in reducing IT/communications costs and launching services and capabilities. Also, more than twice as many business respondents indicated a need for a major network upgrade compared with IT poll participants.
“The study did not probe in more detail the reasons why business people — or IT people, for that matter — feel that major network upgrades are or are not required to accommodate convergence solutions,” Venator said. “It’s possible that because they come from the business side of the organization, these individuals do not have a comprehensive understanding of what’s involved in deploying convergence technologies. It’s also possible that they’ve had prior experience with IT projects that started out as minor upgrades and ended up being major upgrades.
“What is clear from the survey results is that many small- and medium-sized businesses do not have a clear picture of their network’s readiness to convergence — fewer than one-third of the organizations surveyed said that a formal assessment of their network’s ability to support converged communications had been done.”
For more information, see http://www.comptia.org.