I didn't quite get down to VoiceCon Spring 2006 in Orlando, but something Don Peterson said today initially made my eyes pop out.
That is, up until I had a chance to think through what he said.
CEO of VoIP equipment and systems supplier Avaya Inc., (maker of the Avaya 4630 IP Screen Phone you see at the top) Peterson said that some IT managers should not deploy VoIP as a way to lower communications costs. Instead, he said, ITs should look at the technology as an operations enhancer.
"We don't believe IP telephony is a cost-reduction case," Peterson said. "I fundamentally believe that the real value is not cost reduction but how it changes the business."
My first thought was that statement bordered on the heretical. But as I have learned,part of being a thought leader is learning to lead yourself in thought. So I started processing just what the Avaya CEO said and why he said it.
Peterson was not available for comment after his keynote, but a high-ranking associate of his was. Jorge Blanco, whose Avaya business card bears the title of vice-president of strategic marketing,told Computerworld's Matt Hamblen that, as Matt writes, "recent independent research and customer surveys have raised questions about earlier assertions of VoIP cost savings."
So which should be the dominant reason for an enterprise to go VoIP? Cost savings or operational efficiency?
In one of my other hats, I am Features Editor of Von Magazine, a leading IP telephony trade book. I do two "What Works At Work" columns each month in which I ask enterprise-level VoIP users whether they got into VoIP to save money thru an ROI model, or as a way to increase operational and communications efficiencies.
The more intricate the operation- such as a company with several offices- I hear both. Sure,they love the cost savings VoIP provides over PSTN, but they embrace the sophisticated call management and control features that enterprise-level VoIP offers.
The smaller VoIP user- say the one-office law firm with three partners - the savings are the killer app.
All I am saying here is that it's not just the savings, nor the operational efficiency, but both.
Yes, Don Peterson is right.
What do you think, enterprise VoIP users? Did you get into VoIP because of the cost savings, the operational efficiencies (I promise not to use that phrase again for a long time) - or both? TalkBack and let's get a discussion started?