News flash: Life is complex, transitions happen in fits and starts, and new technology never rolls out in consistent and easily identified patterns.
That could have been the first paragraph of this press release from In-Stat hyping a study that points to a rich mix of VoIP and legacy time division multiplexed (TDM) lines among American businesses. The study found that the new platform is used by 20 percent of businesses -- but that 44 percent of those companies' lines remain TDM.
There are other interesting facts and figures in the release: Thirty-six percent of businesses use more than one VoIP application, hosted services are growing rapidly, and about 14 percent of businesses have workers who use voice-enabled instant messaging (IM).
But the most important message in the release is the pronounced mix of VoIP and TDM. Despite our glibness above, this is no surprise. Indeed, the fact that the organizations that have deployed VoIP have changed over 56 percent of their lines this soon is extraordinary.
One reasons it's so impressive is that VoIP comes with baggage that traditional telecommunications networks don't carry. The new platform is vulnerable to all the security issues that impact IP-based networks -- and then some. Quality issues also linger. The fast gains in spite of these issues suggest just how compelling its low cost and flexibility are.
VoIP and TDM will work together into the future on a variety of levels. No company will strand investments in legacy equipment or pay the penalties involved in walking away from contracts. The smart ones will make well-thought-out decisions on where VoIP makes strategic sense now. Contact centers, internal and business-to-business calling are three early targets.
That is the easy part. Planners also must make careful assessments on how the desired mix will change as VoIP matures. Creating a transition involving service provider contracts and equipment -- IP, TDM gear and hybrid -- is a great challenge.