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Boards warned again over VoIP risks

After a recent clear warning from KPMG a global Deloitte partner has said that the vulnerability of VoIP means senior executives must be involved in evaluation and deployment decisions

The vulnerability of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems to disruption means senior executives and boards of directors must be involved in evaluation and deployment decisions, a global Deloitte partner said.

Igal Brightman, Deloitte global managing partner, technology media and communications, said in a report into corporate interest in and takeup of voice over Internet Protocol systems that, despite recent advances in reliability and performance, "the risk of business disruption remains a valid concern".

"Businesses have learned to tolerate a certain amount of downtime from computers and networks," Brightman said. "But they expect their phone systems to work all the time. That's the main reason voice over Internet Protocol is an issue for CXOs and the board of directors, not just the [information technology] department".

While generally lauding VoIP as "coming of age for the enterprise," Deloitte warned there were a number of prospective pitfalls if companies elected to proceed with a full-scale deployment.

These included; the relative lack of maturity of VoIP systems at the desktop level; the fact companies are forced to rely on their data network rather than using separate voice and data networks; the vulnerability of VoIP systems to viruses, worms, electronic surveillance, eavesdropping and denial of service attacks and; the fit of such systems for enterprises which may be better suited to an all-mobile solution.

However, despite the pitfalls, enterprises seem to be racing to embrace VoIP. Deloitte said its report revealed that by 2006, two-thirds of the Global 2000 companies would have started deployment of VoIP to the desktop.

The key driver was cost reduction, with 84 percent of those surveyed citing the issue as a key driver. However, beyond cost, VoIP had potential to deliver benefits to enterprises in call centres, offshoring operations and telecommuting tools. Seventy-nine percent of early adopters said they were either 'mostly' or 'highly' satisfied with the technology to date.