Convergence is a must, not a nice to have

Local telecommunications consultancy CommsCloud says local companies stand to realise a lot more value from converging their voice and data networks into one, IP-enabled converged network than they actually realise.

Next generation converged networks are designed to manage diverse traffic, expedite and prioritise solutions and deliver value to the business, its customers and its stakeholders. IT is now a strong enabler in business and companies that do not leverage this opportunity will struggle to compete.

“If your employees are hamstrung by IT where your competition enables its employees, your business will have a distinct disadvantage in the marketplace, says CommsCloud director Peter Walsh.

Convergence will reduce total cost of ownership, enable a company to better manage network traffic, and keep employees actively involved in servicing the customer – no matter where they are.

Although many companies have migrated to IP-based solutions intended to effect cost savings for voice traffic, they still tend to maintain dual voice and data networks. Consequently, resultant savings from VoIP-enabled calls are often eroded by the costs of running two separate networks rather than a single converged network.

The sheer complexity of a convergence project often puts companies off before they’ve even started, and stories abound of companies that have tried and either failed or gone through huge pain doing so. For most organisations, and particularly the people making the telecommunications decisions, the number and variety of telecommunications options available is complex. It’s difficult to determine which solution will meet the company’s requirements and support its business strategy, particularly where newer technology concepts like convergence are considered. Companies should also consider how motivated their incumbent service provider is to help them reduce their overall spend.

Says Walsh: “You cannot manage what you can’t measure. Doing a comprehensive audit and analysis of a company’s telecommunications fixed and variable costs (both voice and data) and establishing a TCO, is a must do starting point.

This analysis provides insights into how a company’s networks are used, what the actual costs are and how the network (and products/solutions running on the network(s)) can be optimised or improved to better meet the company’s business need.

Based on the audit and business needs analysis, the business can approach the market in a formal manner and ensure that input on fulfilling a specific business need is requested from multiple service providers. In CommsCloud’s experience this is best achieved by way of a formal Request for Proposal (RFP), says Walsh.

Implementing a converged network is a massive undertaking, requires keen project and change management skills, requires strong commercial agreements with service providers and is definitely not for the faint-hearted, comments Walsh. That said, real value can be gained from getting rid of unused infrastructure and replacing it with a converged network solution, that enables the business, rather than inhibits it, he notes.

Moving to a converged network is not just about costs, says Walsh, but results in a substantially better end-user and customer experience. Requirements for bandwidth and access to the internet of all things are not going to decrease, they will only rise, IT heads need to plan and prepare their networks accordingly.

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Convergence is a must, not a nice to have