Broadband Penetration, Economy Boost Demand in Hosted Telephony, Report Says

A survey of enterprise to midmarket companies in the U.S. and abroad found increased demand for hosted telephony and related applications, due to quick ROI and a shaky economy.

According to market research firm T3i Group's most recent survey of almost 300 U.S. and international enterprise and small to medium-size business decision makers, the near-term market for hosted Internet Protocol telephony and applications is much larger than indicated by previous studies.

The survey addressed global demand for hosted telephony and seven hosted applications: contact center, audio conferencing, desktop video conferencing, Web conferencing, voice messaging, unified messaging and interactive voice response/speech recognition. In addition to the demand research, analysis included interviews with hosted service providers.

The company's "Global Market Demand for Hosted IP Telephony and Hosted - SaaS UC Applications Market Outlook" report segments current and expected hosted telephony customers by their size, implemented or planned service usage, service provider selection criteria, financial and nonfinancial decision-maker criteria, and more than 15 measurements of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The research found that the selection criteria for hosted applications has shifted with growing awareness of SAAS (software-as-a-service) solutions and cloud computing.

The survey found bundled access is a second factor in the growth of hosted services, with companies that provide wideband access for multiple business purposes finding that customers like the idea of consolidating their voice/PBX services with provider services. IT and telecom decision makers' disinterest in hosted telephony and applications was most frequently attributed to their preference for premises-based solutions and the need for total control over systems. The group's research detected concern over these considerations has dropped substantially in comparison with earlier studies.

Russell Horowitz, market research specialist at T3i and author of the report, said service providers who previously had little to do with the desktop, and especially not the phone system, are encroaching on the telecom vendor's turf. "Interest in hosted telephony and these seven hosted applications was indicated by more than 50 percent of our surveyed research panel," he said. "It is fair to say that service providers are doing a great job exhibiting their abilities to supply such advanced features as federating remote locations or administering collaborative applications by individual business departments."

Horowitz said quick ROI (return on investment), defined as applications and services that pay for themselves within the first year of deployment, has become a major factor in hosted application deployment. Representing a shift from prior T3i research, enterprise, SMB and international decision makers cited the same two types of service providers as being highly capable of providing quick ROI, based on two factors: the inherent financial benefits of the core (IPT) hosted service and the use of such cost-saving technologies as collaboration and IVR.

In addition, the company said a significant percentage of respondents now view hosted service as having more functionality than similar CPE solutions. "Enterprises of all sizes appear to be lured to advancing their capabilities and competitiveness without the need to ramp up/maintain internal staffing, and to purchase expensive systems and maintenance contracts," noted Horowitz.