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One-Third Of Large Enterprises Favor Managed VoIP: Study

Business demand for managed voice over IP (VoIP) services is high, according to a new report from Forrester Research, with enterprises showing particularly strong interest.

In "VoIP Update: Enterprise VoIP Demand -- Where's The Supply?" Forrester vice president Lisa Pierce notes that almost 29% of businesses surveyed have expressed an interest in using manages VoIP services. Surprisingly, however, although small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have been the focus of service provider-managed VoIP offerings, demand is strongest among enterprises, more than double the rate among SMBs. Even then, Pierce writes, "interest in these services grows with size. Some 33% of companies surveyed with more than 20,000 employees responded that they will use managed VoIP, compared to 27% of companies with less than 5,000 employees.

One of the main attractions of managed VoIP for large businesses is the ability to support large numbers of mobile and remote workers on a singe telecommunications system. Verticals with the highest proportions of telecommuting workers tended to express the greatest interest in managed VoIP. Companies in the business services sector, which have greater instances of telecommuting, expressed the highest interest in managed VoIP, with 42% reporting that they would use the services.

Pierce also notes that companies that already have experience with some outsourced network services are typically more inclined to outsource others. "This is especially significant when one recalls that managed VoIP is one of the many telecommunications services that these companies use or will use, and companies that outsource one function are often favorably inclined to outsource others," she writes. "Particularly for telecommunications and managed services providers, the opportunity for upsell and cross-sell should not be dismissed."

Nevertheless, with their focus on the SMB market, providers are failing to offer the range of calling features that enterprise managed VoIP customers want and need. They are providing enhancements, Pierce says, but their services are mainly intended to serve generic calling requirements and do not offer features like unified messaging, sophisticated in-bound call management or "meaningful" service level agreements. "The great irony of today's reality is that current supply can't fill the greatest demand, as expressed by absolute IT spending levels," she writes. "Enterprises, though relatively few in number, spend far more on IT and telecommunications than all SMBs combined."