It might be reasonable to argue that Marty Parker, principal at UniComm Consulting, sees unified communications as a more-strategic matter, and SIP trunking as a more tactical matter. SIP trunking is largely “another phase of least cost routing, where enterprises invest in premise equipment and software in order to cut their recurring carrier billings,” he says.
At least in part, Parke's views seem to be driven by a view that investing where the greatest return can be gained is what enterprise voice managers ought to be doing. “Usually, this will be the UC investments which can reduce costs in many parts of the business, not just in telecom transmission billings,” he argues. One might imply that if an enterprise has enough money only to adopt unified communications or SIP trunking, UC should come first.
Others do not seem to agree. “I'd argue that this doesn’t make them (SIP trunks) unimportant, and it doesn’t mean they don't have a strategic role to play going forward,” says Eric Krapf, No Jitter editor. “For one thing, the PSTN is likely to be around for some time yet, and enterprises will need a conduit to it, especially for their contact centers.”
Some of us might argue that there is some wisdom in either point of view, but that, generally speaking, nothing related to voice is “strategic” in a larger sense. Important, yes. Valuable, yes. Providing value, yes. But it is hard to view most things “voice” as truly strategic in a larger sense, these days.
Instead, some will argue that social software or any number of other information technology investments might well represent a more strategic deployment of capital than just about anything done in the voice area. Cloud computing, social applications, mobile applications or e-commerce might arguably be more strategic areas of interest.
The issue is not whether voice remains a critical and important enterprise capability. Call centers are just that: “call” centers. But as with all other proposed investments any organization has to make, the issue is expected value versus expected investment cost. It is an arguable point, but some might argue that voice works well enough in most enterprises, and that it is hard to quantify additional value from investing in voice infrastructure, as compared to customer-facing or even collaboration application infrastructure, for example.
“Becoming a next-generation digital enterprise means generating a greater percentage of enterprise revenue via information and Internet technologies,” say analysts at Gartner. It might be hard to find anybody who would disagree with the general formulation.
It is anecdotal, to be sure, but an admittedly non-scientific survey of 130 attendees of an IP Expo showed that 65 percent agreed an IP outage would cause most damage to their businesses than a phone system outage.
If the local utility company accidently hacked through their phone lines, it would upset 21 percent but would not bring the company to a virtual standstill. The point is that the IP network and applications these days are more “mission critical,” as important as voice is, to many, perhaps most enterprises.
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