Understanding the Value Proposition

The first objective of organizations investigating IP telephony should be to identify those specific areas in their own businesses that can be measurably improved because of new applications and new clients enabled by this technology.

If the idea that running applications on corporate phones can improve business seems far-fetched, consider the cellular market for a moment. Just over a decade ago, the notion that everyone would have a cell phone was so preposterous that you would have been laughed out of a meeting had you suggested the type of market acceptance enjoyed by cellular technologies today.

Furthermore, the cell phone has already evolved before our eyes. It is not uncommon to see consumers picking up e-mail, checking favorite websites, instant messaging friends, or even playing games on their cell phones. All this is possible because of new applications aimed at that particular device. So it shall be with IP phones and IP telephony. As businesses begin to see the IP phone as an intelligent client, they can begin to realize the potential for adding new capabilities and impacting business processes.

Customers adopting new IP phones running new network-based applications are finding that this is not consistent with the "cheaper is best" philosophy that has thrived in the past 20 years of PBX technology. Enabling a telephone to connect directly to an IP network, interface with network applications, and be managed by network resources requires additional technology and capabilities that current digital phones do not possess. The incremental costs added to IP phones giving them these capabilities are offset only if the company deploying them utilizes them to their fullest extent.

As previously noted, most companies focus on features during their procurement of phone systems. They focus on the features they currently have, and work to ensure they don't lose any functionality.

Moving forward, companies looking at IP telephony are increasingly moving the focus away from "what features I have" to "what capabilities I do not have." More specifically, "what are those new capabilities that might not exist yet, but can be developed" that will positively impact their business, their key initiatives, and especially their vital few.

For law firms, the focus is increasingly moving away from using forced authorization codes to validate users, and moving towards new applications that use the concept of forced authorization codes to simplify and increase the accuracy of the billing process—a key business goal for the legal industry.

For a pharmaceutical company, the focus is moving away from simply having distribution groups within voice-messaging platforms to true collaborative applications bringing together voice, video, and data to more effectively distribute analysis of test results from clinical trials—a key business goal for the pharmaceutical industry.

In secondary schools, the focus is moving away from simply restricting calls from coming into the classroom during specific hours, and moving to enhance the security of the school campus by enabling one-touch recording, tracking, and online reporting to police authorities of threatening phone calls, which is increasingly a key business goal for schools today.

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