IDC WAN Manager Survey: Western European Companies Embrace Voice/Data Convergence

Western European companies are embracing the convergence of voice and data, according to a pan-European survey of 660 medium and large enterprises conducted by IDC. Currently, about 44% of respondents surveyed are at some stage in the convergence process, while in 12 months 51% expect to be in the convergence process.

The growth of voice/data convergence is facilitating the potential for companies to migrate from traditional PSTN PBXs to IP PBXs. Organizations across Western Europe continued to replace their TDM-based PBXs and telephones that were bought around 2000 and earlier. French companies reported the highest usage of pure IP PBXs (29%), while the Netherlands reported the lowest usage with only 3% of companies using a pure IP PBX.

Most enterprises use a combination of solutions to achieve convergence of their voice and data networks. The most frequent reason to outsource some or all of the convergence process was the lack of in-house expertise.

Large enterprises (1,000+ employees) most often develop and manage the voice/data convergence in-house. There was an increase in the number of enterprises undertaking the entire convergence process in-house from 25% in 2005 to 30% in 2006.

Regardless of the company size, sector, or country, the majority of respondents still use the PSTN for making voice calls. However, when comparing survey data from 2005, there has been an 8% decrease in PSTN use for internal voice traffic.

A number of enterprises are still unfamiliar with hosted IP voice services. 49% of respondents have no plans to implement hosted IP voice services, while 28% currently use hosted IP voice services or plan to do so within 12 months or in the long term.

Each year, IDC conducts a WAN Manager Survey, interviewing European enterprises to gauge their attitudes towards communications. The European WAN Manager Survey 2006: European Attitudes Towards VoIP Infrastructure (Doc #HY04N, November 2006) illustrates the differences in how companies purchase and manage voice services and from whom they purchase those services.

The focus of this annual study is a survey of 660 medium and large European companies. Companies defined as "large" are those with more than 50 employees worldwide. The countries in Europe covered by the survey are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.

The survey covered companies operating in five industry sectors: finance, manufacturing, retail/wholesale, travel, and the public sector. The public sector included government and education bodies.