Making the Move to VoIP

I’m going to break this post into two segments. The topic, "making the move to VoIP" can sometimes sound like old news to people who are a part of the IP telephony industry. Truth told, while more IP lines are now being deployed each year than traditional TDM lines, only a minority of business lines have actually made the switch to Voice over IP. The estimates that I’ve seen put the percentage of business IP lines at somewhere between 25-35% of the total lines. Additionally, the pace at which the switch to IP telephony is happening is slowing. There is one reason for that — the economy.

With this as the back drop, the appropriate question for a business to consider remains, "should I make the switch to IP telephony, tear out my old PBX, and replace it with a new software-based IP PBX?” I believe that most companies will find the answer to be yes, but the reason behind the decision has changed in the last two years.

Rewind to early 2007. It was very common back then to talk to a CIO or IT director who when asked, "Why are you deploying IP telephony?" would reply with something like, "Well, we’ve had it in the plan for awhile now. We’ve got the budget for it. It will be a good move for us." In other words, they were making the move because everyone else was making the move and it "seemed like the right thing to do."

Back to our current day. Times have changed. Now the move to IP telephony is happening based on more solid business reasoning. Now there is functionality and business needs that are driving the switch. The business wants to deploy remote contact center agents; consolidate multiple PBXs; centralize management of multiple locations; provide information access and better communication tools for the company’s mobile workforce; or a nice list of additional items that are easier and more cost effectively done in an IP telephony environment than in the old TDM world. Gone are the days of concerns that IP telephony solutions aren’t mature enough for mission critical business telephony. That said, justifying the purchase requires more than just, “seems like a good idea” reasoning.

So the questions to ask:

1. What are my company’s communication needs that currently are not being met, or are being met poorly?
2. What communication enhancements could our business make in order to improve service levels, make our employees more efficient, and potentially generate additional revenue?
3. Based on the answers to questions one and two, will a move to an IP telephony solution meet those needs?

If the answer to question three is "yes," then you’re a candidate for migrating to IP telephony. In part two of this post, I’ll provide a checklist of things to consider in preparation for the switch.

As always, your comments and input are welcome and encouraged.

Joe Staples