VoIP: Tip of the Iceberg or Slippery Slope?

Following The Herd

For example, buzz about Boeing’s plans to improve collaboration among its design teams around the world shouldn’t compel other companies to jump headfirst on the VoIP bandwagon.

VoIP, if done correctly, may enable new applications and new functionality that companies can deploy to increase revenue, reduce costs and improve efficiencies. What’s exciting is that, because it is a data-based system, VoIP has the potential to integrate your communications with your internal information systems to create customer-centric, supplier-centric and employee-centric operations.

Unfortunately, however, many companies may look at VoIP simply as a way to replace old communications systems with a new and cheaper alternative. Instead, they should also explore this technology as a fundamental building block to restructure the way the corporation processes its work and delivers its products and services.

However, caution is advisable. Because of the large-scale complexity and multidisciplinary nature of these efforts, the following common mistakes must be avoided (you may notice some of them from past, high-promise, high-hype projects):

  • Underestimating the scope of the project and what’s really required to get maximum value from the initiative, resulting in unfulfilled expectations.
  • Lax project management discipline, leading to missed deadlines, cost overruns and frustration.
  • Underestimating the resources required to fully implement the strategy.
  • Managing The Change

    CIOs need to understand the limitations of the technology, and of their own organization to absorb change. They need to create a multidisciplinary team and foster a sense of shared responsibility and teamwork between the communications, IT and functional groups. In turn, that team needs to have strong project management skills and focus on ways VoIP can create value for very specific processes or applications.

    With the hype about VoIP building, maintaining that focus might be hard to do. Most people tend to overestimate the impact of technology innovations in the short term and underestimate its impact in the long term.

    The winners in leveraging VoIP’s capabilities will be those companies that are realistic about extracting its value in the short term but have the vision to see how it could fundamentally change business models or entire industries over time.

    John Sviokla is vice chairman of DiamondCluster International, a global management consulting firm that helps leading organizations develop and implement growth strategies, improve operations, and capitalize on technology. DiamondCluster is headquartered in Chicago, with offices across Europe and South America. To learn more please visit our Web site.