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ITPRC News - August 2002
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ITPRC NEWS - August 2002
Previous Newsletters

Voice over IP’s “Killer App”
By Irwin Lazar

It is often said that what is missing from the VoIP debate is a “killer app,” one specific application that enterprises must have, and that will drive them to make the necessary investments in VoIP.  In the last year or so VoIP has moved from a revolutionary technology to an evolutionary one.  Most enterprises now accept that they will eventually get to VoIP, and many have already made that commitment for small or new offices where infrastructure requirements are small, but there don’t seem to be very many, if any, drivers that would cause an enterprise to embark on a wholesale change from circuit-switched to packet-switched voice throughout the organization.

Instead, several emerging applications, while none a single “killer app” might provide additional incentives for enterprises to quicken the acceptance of VoIP.  These include follow-me services, call center applications, and voice conferencing.

Follow-Me Services:
Follow-Me services essentially allow users to take their phone numbers with them wherever they go.  Via a web browser, users can manage their phone systems to perform such tasks as call redirection to another number, simultaneous ring of multiple numbers, or call redirection to a different phone.  This type of service enables a traveling user to use whatever phone is local to them, be it a guest office phone, cell phone or home office phone.  The use of a web browser for phone management also allows access to phone controls anywhere there is IP connectivity (subject to security controls of course).

Call Center Applications:
Emerging call center applications from companies such as Aspect Technologies, Shoreline, and others provide additional flexibility in call center design and operations.  By using IP call managers, phones (and thus call center personnel) can be located anywhere there is a network connection.  This creates the opportunity to extend “virtual” call centers to employee’s homes, eliminating the need to warehouse all call center workers in a single facility.  Integration of IP and call centers also enables such applications as web-based “click to talk” or “click to chat” or even an ability to use the web to direct users to the information that they are looking for via remote control browsing.

Voice Conferencing:
VoIP based teleconferencing offers perhaps the most significant potential for cost savings of all the emerging VoIP applications.  By using internal conferencing tools, enterprises forgo the need to spend money on 3rd party teleconferencing services.  Enterprises can bring voice conferencing services in-house to support internal conference calls, which by many estimates make up the vast majority of teleconference usage.

Conclusion:
VoIP continues to mature as a technology.  Meanwhile, new applications are emerging that are finally taking advantage of the “connect from anywhere” characteristics of IP communications to bring new capabilities to VoIP services.  Taken together, all these advances may finally signal the emergence of the “Killer App” that will quicken the adoption of VoIP in the enterprise.

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Irwin Lazar is a Senior Consultant for The Burton Group. He focuses on strategic planning and network architecture for Fortune 500 enterprises as well as large service providers. He is the conference director for MPLScon and runs The MPLS Resource Center www.mplsrc.com and The Information Technology Professional's Resource Center www.itprc.com. Please send any comments about this article to ilazar@tbg.com ============================================================

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