VoIP Goes Mainstream

Case studies of five companies that have taken the voice/data plunge.

This isn't going to be cheap or easy. For large corporations, switching to a voice-over-IP (VoIP) system could require an investment of $20 million to $40 million or more, according to Chicago-based consulting firm DiamondCluster International Inc. And the most common mistake is underestimating the complexity of the project, DiamondCluster says.

For starters, you need to do an assessment of your current data network to see if it's robust enough to handle the bandwidth and service quality required for voice traffic. Hint: It probably isn't and will require upgrades. And that readiness assessment alone costs an average of $17,220, according to Nemertes Research LLC in New York.

Nevertheless, mainstream corporate IT executives are diving into VoIP. A recent survey of 131 companies by Deloitte & Touche USA LLP found that two-thirds of businesses will be deploying VoIP to the desktop by 2006. In many cases, they're moving out of pilot projects and into full-fledged deployments.

In this special report, we provide extensive case studies of five robust VoIP projects at major companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Magellan Health Services and Liz Claiborne.

The interesting thing is that there's a disconnect between the stories these users tell and the stories the analysts think the users should be telling. The analysts say the strategic benefits of VoIP are in fancy "converged applications," but the users mostly want tactical improvements like toll bypass, extension mobility and a single voice/data network to manage. In this economic climate, IT managers -- always a pragmatic bunch -- are looking for cost savings first; then they can layer on those fancy applications in the future.

Mitch Betts is Computerworld's executive editor. Contact him at mitch_betts@computerworld.com.

Special Report

VoIP Goes Mainstream

Stories in this report:


Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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