IP Telephony Trends

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IP Telephony Trends

I got a hold of this trends piece and thought it worth passing on. I like it. It is kind of a mix between article and advertorial but is still educational:

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SOS Spots Hot Trends in IP Telephony for 2006

By Gia McNutt, chief executive officer, SOS

Don't you wish you had a crystal ball to foresee the path of IP Telephony in 2006? You're in luck. SOS has already spotted five sizzling trends that will make companies more effective, not just more efficient.

Crystal Ball Prediction #1 - Business applications converge onto one IP infrastructure.

Most large U.S. companies have already switched from plain old telephone systems to voice over Internet protocol. Now small and medium-size businesses are also choosing voice over IP (VoIP) to give their people "anytime, anywhere" voice, video and data communications. As more and more midsized businesses rely on one IP infrastructure, convergence -- integration of applications with the network -- can't be ignored, says leading Gartner analyst Katie Hackler.

"When you start to think about all the applications that you have to put together on a case-by-case basis, it's costing you time, it's costing you money and it's adding complexity," says Hackler. "As we start moving to more of an IP environment, then you start having more commonality to build on."

Chief information officers need to integrate rather than compartmentalize networks, she said.
That's why American River Bankshares turned to SOS for help. A northern California bank with multiple branches, American River needed a robust, reliable, integrated business communications environment that would pay for itself after implementation.

To start, SOS assessed and upgraded the bank's network by implementing Citrix Server-Based computing technology, which centralized data and reduced network traffic over the local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN). Now the network has redundancies built in to ensure continuous uptime and peace of mind for top managers.

Instead of replacing desktop computers companywide, SOS engineers improved the performance of existing desktops in order to extend their lives. As a result, the bank got better desktop and network functionality while spending less on support and administration.

Over time, users at American River shifted to working on thin client terminals instead of personal computers. These terminals are significantly cheaper than PCs and easy to install. SOS had already installed an NEC business phone system several years ago with unified messaging, and launched a program of comprehensive support services for the bank. As new technology became available, SOS stayed close to the bank and expanded on the initial solution by implementing a Call Manager site.

Crystal Ball Prediction #2: The number of VoIP access lines will grow through 2008.

VoIP is not a flash in the pan. Roughly three-quarters of large companies in the U.S. have already made the switch to IP telephony, to the dismay of the traditional phone companies. Companies have lowered bandwidth costs, reduced personnel requirements, saved on taxes and spent less on moving, adding and changing phone lines.

Global Cash Access, a Las Vegas company that provides credit checks for local casinos, is a prime example of a midsized company that migrated to VoIP and hit the jackpot.

In only six months after installing a new IP capability on the back end, Global Cash Access saw a 63 percent decline in agent-handled calls and a similar decrease in call waiting time. The company projected a $600,000 cost savings in the first year as well as improved customer service, and expects even more benefits in the future as the IP functionality is extended more to the front end.

The most important aspect of VoIP is that it is growing and is here to stay. VoIP "now represent the 'dial tone' for the future," says Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Crystal Ball Prediction #3: Business intelligence will make companies smarter

The largest city travel and tourism website, VEGAS.com, knows firsthand what business intelligence can do for a company and its profitability. "VEGAS.com opened up new revenue streams and made their services that much more available to anyone regardless of their communication method," said Rob Cate, director of contact center operations for VEGAS.com. "Because of SOS's recommendation for real-time business intelligence, our customers can now contact agents through voice communications, fax and email interactions, web chat, screen pop-up dialogue, voice message and recording, and much more."

Before they even pick up the call, the agents already have information at their fingertips, such as who is calling, the time of the call, and purchase history.

Crystal Ball Prediction #4: Adoption of VoIP continues, especially with small and midsize businesses

No one wants to be a guinea pig when it comes to adopting new technology, especially small to medium-sized businesses. In the past, they had concerns about cost, implementation hassles and complexity associated with changing over to IP. But now those barriers to adoption are more about perception than reality.

Small and medium-sized businesses are now becoming more aware of the advantages that VoIP has to offer, such as extending the life of desktops, centralizing data, reducing support and administration costs, and minimizing network traffic over the LAN and WAN. They see that boundaries separating voice, video, data and mobile communications are falling.

Yankee Group indicates that small and medium businesses are rapidly transitioning to VoIP. Making business calls is becoming easier, more efficient and cheaper, causing 70 percent of businesses to give preference to VoIP solutions.

Crystal Ball Prediction #5: Security and regulatory issues will be more important than ever

Security and compliance issues will be top of mind for businesses in 2006. For over a decade, SOS has developed strategies to secure voice communications.

One effective strategy is to harden the voice environment by separating the virtual local area networks (VLANs). Deploying VoIP devices on separate VLANs utilizes quality of service (QoS) resources and allows dividing data traffic from voice and signaling traffic. Because VLANS can be set up for different types of voice and data traffic and devices, some believe that VLANs provide increased security, precious time for troubleshooters to address voice quality issues, and flexibility to set QoS markings in the packet, not the VLAN.

About the writer

Gia McNutt, chief executive officer of SOS, is an expert in integrated advanced communications solutions for business. Her company, SOS, supplies voice, data, and telephony management services to clients such as Vegas.com, the largest city travel and tourism web site in the world. For over a decade, McNutt's company, SOS, has consistently ranked among the Fastest Growing Companies in its region. Her team has designed and implemented more than 100 state of the art IP telephony solutions - connecting tens of thousands of users in dozens of states. SOS is headquartered in Rocklin, California with sales offices in the northwest. Reach SOS at 888-336-7671 or 916-632-8800. Gain access to the company's latest case studies, news, and IP telephony solutions and services at www.team-sos.com



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