'New for old' with IT telephony

The latest report endorses the findings of the 2005 survey, that VoIP is firmly on most companies' IT investment 'radar'. Of those surveyed, 81% have either already implemented, or plan to implement an IP telephony solution over the next 12 months, compared to 67% last year.

When asked which benefits were of greatest value to them as individual managers in implementing a VoIP solution, responses still focus strongly on internal issues such as reduced call costs (45%), call centre churn (20%) and reduced admin costs (12%).

However, as in 2005, external factors such as increased customer retention (27%) and increased customer satisfaction (20%) figured highly when respondents were asked which benefits were most important to the broader business.

In many cases, an IP-based telephony implementation on its own will be little more than 'new for old' replacement of outdated technology. Essentially designed to keep the business going, any cost improvements - however valuable - are exclusively internal.

For those end-users who also anticipate external customer-facing gains to accrue to the broader business therefore, VoIP will continue to fall short of expectations.

By contrast, in bringing together IP telephony with other business applications such as service management, CRM or help desk systems, solutions such as FrontRange's business application suite - based on a common Microsoft .NET platform - will deliver real business value, enabling substantial operational savings while improving customer responsiveness, through the use of 'intelligent' call routing based on what the business already knows about the customer.

Other findings included:

- 96% of respondents expect to invest the same, or more, on communications (e.g. IP telephony, web site, call centre or converged technology) in the coming year.

- Of those companies providing a banded service, 39% differentiate their service based on current spend, followed by 28% on type of product/service purchased and 21% on size of customer. Only 6% currently prioritise on the basis of potential spend.

- When investing in a communications solution, 49% believe return on investment to be the most important factor in their decision-making, ahead of cost of deployment (16%), customer satisfaction (15%) and speed of deployment (11%).

- For 25% of respondents, automated call distribution (ACD) is the most important requirement for their call centre, closely followed by voice self-service (23%), converged applications (22%) and interactive voice recognition(IVR)/skills-based routing (15%).