Executives highlight importance of convergence

Most firms will implement converged based networks within three years, despite fears over security and cost

Cost, security and a lack of skills are the main concerns of businesses looking to implement converged networks, according to new research.

Despite these fears, 25 percent of companies have already deployed converged networks throughout all or most of their organisation and 60 percent say they will reach that stage by 2008.

The Economist Intelligence Unit study of 236 executives worldwide, sponsored by AT&T, found that 45 percent of the executives surveyed — which included 77 chief executives — said converged networks are "important" or "critical" to supporting future strategic business goals.

The survey also found a shift in focus among respondents from using converged networks primarily as a cost-reduction tool to using it as a base for improving customer service and collaboration.

In particular convergence was seen as key to delivering good customer service across key channels such as mobile, text, video and Web chat.

But convergence brings major operational challenges with it and survey respondents cited implementation costs, network security and skills shortages as key concerns.

Hossein Eslambolchi, chief technology officer at AT&T, said in the report: "Lower capital and operational expenditures, while no doubt important, are secondary benefits of convergence. Network convergence should be more concerned with how you create the next generation of services that will enable your customers or partners to increase value."