Corporates ride high on convergence

Updated: Nov 21 2005, 05:30am hrs
In the last few years, convergence has been the most talked about thing in the Indian market. Lower costs are among the foremost advantages of converged networks along with the facility to have voice and data on a single network.

The definition of convergence has expanded beyond VoIP to include technologies such as Web conferencing. Today, the Indian market is primed for next-generation IP-based technology. Users are waking up to the fact that IP-based technology can deliver substantial cost savings and converged voice and data network services.

Though many are still talking about VoIP, the next level of integration that combines voice, data and video in a 'triple play' has already been making the list of many CIOs and CTOs as they craft their strategic game plans. Customers who are currently on traditional systems, are migrating to new technologies like IP telephony and other forms of convergence. The IP telephony market alone, as per Frost & Sullivan (F&S), was worth around $60 million in 2004. The segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 35 percent over the next couple of years. As per F&S projections, the number of IP ports shipped will exceed that of TDM ports by 2007.

The need for convergence

The reason why organisations are looking at such technologies is quite simple. Applications like enterprise wide mobility, voice and video mail messaging, Web Conferencing, broadcasting through IP phones, integrated access to voice, data and video are helping employees to be more productive and more responsive to customers. Corporates are also looking at issues such as the optimal use of their existing infrastructure, quality of service, a richer user experience and, above all, reducing costs.

Rajendra Deshpande, CTO, Intelenet Global Services is of the view that "What is relevant from the adoption point of view is that these technologies are cost-effective thereby allowing an organisation to achieve organisational efficiencies. Also a single project might be executed across multiple locations rather than from a single geography. To meet these challenges, it is essential that employees across the organisation collaborate more efficiently to complete a specific set of tasks."

According to research by Gartner, convergence in the enterprise is happening rapidly on both the wired and wireless LAN, reducing network and device costs and driving new capabilities for voice and data access across wired and wireless networks. More than 50 percent of employees conduct business away from the office, and voice is a primary business application for these mobile workers.

Aamer Azeemi, GM - Global IT, Wipro Technologies looks at it as the natural evolution of the network towards convergence. "The network today is becoming intelligent. We have already adopted VoIP and triple play and use Web conferencing to some extent as well. We have noticed a tremendous increase in user productivity because of the deployment of these technologies. Certain issues which we look before deploying any new technology are optimising the existing infrastructure, quality of service, enhancing user experience, improving productivity and ultimately bringing down cost."

Seshaiah Amisagadda, Head, IT infrastructure of CapGemini says, "We have already deployed some of these technologies. Before adopting convergence in an organisation, certain points need to be considered--ease of deployment, ease of use for end users and cost effectiveness. The organisation benefits from such technologies in terms of saving significant time, travel and money."

IP Telephony applications such as Web conferencing, unified messaging, call management, information retrieval, presence management, etc. are important tools that can help businesses improve their bottom line by improving the flow of communication and thereby increasing efficiency productivity and profitability while improving customer satisfaction.

Intelligent communication

Many organisations deploying converged applications are demanding 'intelligent communication' to seamlessly integrate communication capabilities and business processes. Customers today are investing in best of breed solutions that are based on open standards and are interoperable with products from other vendors. With the dawn of the 'virtual' business, organisations are demanding collaborative solutions such as meet-me conferencing, audio-video conferencing that will help them take decision in real time. For instance, Intelenet employees use Web Conferencing primarily for interacting with their colleagues and counterparts based out of the US and UK.

In arrangement with Express Computer