The convergence of IP networks will dramatically increase over the next years, according to a new survey released by Economist Intelligence Unit and AT&T.
The survey of 236 executives and 77 CEOs found that 25 percent had already deployed converged networks throughout most or all of their organizations, with 60 percent expecting to do so by 2008. Out of those surveyed, 65% believed convergence "critical" to their company.
Companies previously used convergence primarily for reducing network costs, but recently they have been placing greater emphasis on using converged networks to innovate and add value. Better customer service is an important benefit of convergence, according to 73 percent. Additionally, 67 percent believe that convergence allows for better communication. Mobile text, video, and Web chat will soon be popular communication tools used on converged networks. The majority of companies also agreed that these benefits are even more important than the benefit of lower telephony costs.
"Immediate benefits of convergence include significant reductions in capital and operational expenditures. However, those are secondary gains, because network convergence should be more focused on creating the next generation of services that will enable business customers and partners to increase value," Eric Shepcaro, vice president, AT&T Business Strategy and Development said in a statement.
Convergence allows for new opportunities but also raises some challenges. Implementation costs are a major consideration, along with the issue of network security, which will become more complex as digital channels proliferate. Finding people with the skills needed to manage this new technology could also become a problem, the report notes.