IP-based enterprise phone systems are invading corporate branch offices, telecommuter home offices, and call centers everywhere. Sooner or later, voice will be just another digital packet on the IP network, and telephony will be just another managed application about which IT must worry.
the real excitement is swirling around converged voice and data applications. Now that the products have matured and the early phases of simply delivering IP telephony are behind us, were going to really see the promise of applications surrounding VoIP, says Kevin Johnson, director of product marketing at Mitel.
The most obvious angle is enterprise collaboration, where voice and data applications combine IM, presence, Web, and videoconferencing. But voice is wending its way into corporate applications as well. ERP, for example, is gaining IP telephony capabilities to speed approvals and to relieve bottlenecks in business processes and workflows. Todays closest thing to a killer app, however, is the IP-based multimedia call center, which merges all customer communications — including Web, e-mail, chat, and voice — to enhance the customer-support experience and to allow the distribution of call-center staff across the country or even the world.
Just as voice is redefining enterprise applications, IP capabilities are changing the phone on the desktop. An IP phone can now serve as a combined communications and data-access appliance, particularly in departments that dont need a computer on every desk.