In North America and Western Europe, large companies will play an increasing role in VoIP adoption, says ABI Research, adding hosted services will be used on a more regular basis as well, becoming a stronger engine for enterprise VoIP growth in the future.
The hosted services market for VoIP applications initially focused on (and found success with) smaller companies, the research firm says. Typically, smaller companies do not have the IT staff or the budget to install their own VoIP systems. As a result, they often rely on service providers for VoIP services that include the type of features found in large-enterprise phone networks.
“Increasingly, hosted services will interest larger organizations and will be offered by a greater number of service providers — as premises-deployed, small-business VoIP solutions become more cost-effective: targeting advanced features and applications,” says Stan Schatt, ABI Research’s vice president and research director.
Larger companies tend to deploy their own solutions because they have an IT staff and a significant budget, so it makes sense to keep core-business communications technology in house. “However,” adds Schatt, “there are some large companies scattered in myriad locations that opt for hosted services.”
Service providers have not focused on large-enterprise-hosted phone services, but this is likely to change in the future as telecom operators (i.e., the traditional market leaders) face new competition in the smaller-business market from competitive operators, cable operators and other alternative-service providers. ABI Research believes service providers will take their experience with easy-to-serve small companies to adaptively re-size to favor larger companies.
According to TelecomWeb news break’s sister division InfoTech, its “2007 InfoTrack on Microsoft and Disruptive Convergence program: Enterprise and SMB Strategies for Implementing Microsoft’s VoIP Solution” found that 46 percent of enterprises and small and medium businesses (SMBs) surveyed said they were “extremely likely” or “very likely” to implement Microsoft’s voice-related systems, including Live Communications Server (LCS), Office Communications Server (OCS) or its future complete software-based VoIP system.
“The leading manufacturers of IP-PBXs are partnering with Microsoft to integrate their systems with Microsoft LCS and OCS 2007. These manufacturers are currently shipping their integrated IP-PBX and LCS solution, while the integrated OCS solution is in the beta trial stage,” says Terry White, vice president/InfoTrack for Unified Communications and author of the report. “Between 30 percent and 40 percent of the participating decision-makers were not aware that Microsoft plans to have a full-featured, software-based VoIP system by 2010 that will be one-half the cost of current IP-PBXs.”
“And as the forecast period progresses, larger companies will adopt hosted services. This is attributed to several factors, including hesitance to invest in new premises equipment and an interest to upgrade satellite offices that require larger equipment installations than if the volume of users were centralized in one location — thus making a hosted service more economically feasible,” ABI Research’s Schatt concludes.