VoIP and convergence still lost on SMBs

Many small and midsize businesses still have no clue as to what voice and data convergence means.

The idea of voice and data convergence is still lost on many small companies, nearly half of whom have little or no idea what it is.

In companies of 20 to 100 employees the knowledge gulf is the greatest, with 48 percent of respondents to a BT survey pleading ignorance.

For SMBs of every size, cost reduction was the greatest driver for convergence.

However, the larger the organisation the greater the understanding--with only 21 percent of respondents struggling with the concept of convergence in companies of 251 to 500 employees.

In these larger businesses, 34 percent of respondents said they are 'fully up to date' on the issue of voice and data convergence.

In terms of verticals, finance is the most savvy while retail and leisure are the laggards. This finding echoes a report last month from IDC which claimed financial services are leading the field in the adoption of IP telephony.

And many companies aren't just talking the talk. In larger SMBs, 40 percent of respondents boast a fully converged network. In the smallest companies sampled the figure is still quite high, with 32 percent running fully converged networks.

But not everybody is convinced. According to the BT research, in companies of 251 to 500 employees 11 percent of respondents still said 'no way, never' to moving to a fully converged network. The response was the same in companies of 101 to 250 employees, while in those of 20 to 100 employees 34 percent are nay-sayers.

For SMBs of every size, cost reduction was the greatest driver for convergence. Conversely, however, uncertainty about cost benefits was seen as the greatest barrier to a switch to a converged network.

BT's findings are backed up by the experience of at least one other telco. Earlier this year, Dave Thorn, CEO of Telstra Europe, told silicon.com "we're not seeing swathes of customers asking about VoIP", citing a proliferation of acronyms in the telecoms sector which leaves customers unsure of what technologies and trends to embrace.

Will Sturgeon from Silicon.com reported from London.