Since the bring-your-own-device trend started hitting businesses over the last year, I’ve heard several different ideas about how to deal with the flood of consumer technologies coming into the office. Many people have suggested setting up virtual profiles on devices to separate work and personal use. Some say you just need to write the appropriate policy. A few called for a complete clamp-down that forbids anything not issued by the IT department. But until recently, I had never heard anyone put SIP trunking forward as the answer.
In a Webinar last week with Campbell, Calif.-based Infonetics Research, however, Diane Myers predicted that enabling a wider range of mobile device use could become a major driver of SIP trunking adoption in 2012 and beyond. Myers, principal analyst for VoIP and IMS at Infonetics, was suggesting vendors introduce over-the-top, cloud-based SIP mobility features that are not readily available in IP-PBXes. Addressing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) through enhanced SIP applications could be both a way for IT departments to get support for moving forward with the technology as well as a way for service providers to set themselves apart from the competition.
“It’s much more than ‘find me/follow me,’” said Myers, referring to one of the most commonly-known features offered through SIP trunking. “(Employees) want to be able to move a call from their smartphone to a desk phone, to a tablet, to a PC. It’s not just putting a soft client on a device, but being able to make it very easy to move around.”
Other potential technologies Myers said could be enhanced through next-generation SIP applications included collaboration, IM and presence, video conferencing and social networking. But integration with business apps and mobile device integration (and employee productivity) are by far some of the biggest priorities for IT managers right now. “BYOD is a reality,” she said. “IT managers are faced with a growing employee base that wants the tools on all these devices.”
Of course, concerns around security, employees goofing off and lack of resources to properly enable mobile devices have all been huge stumbling blocks for BYOD. I don’t see many organizations deploying SIP trunking as a way to directly tackle those things, but the biggest factor pushing people towards SIP trunking may also help pave the way for successful BYOD as well.
“Most of this is around some cost savings. They’re trying to get resources aligned, they want easier management. It’s really geared towards multi-site businesses,” said Myers. “Businesses are looking towards SIP when they are moving from TDM or IP or maybe moving to unified communications …If moving to SIP costs me more and I can’t see the enhanced capability, I’m not going to move off an ISDN connection.”
In other words, once a company decides to upgrade, SIP trunking might offer them the chance to reduce expenses associated with legacy network infrastructure. That same SIP trunking project might also enable BYOD more effectively, so long as vendors are offering the features necessary to do so. Who wouldn’t want to be the IT leader that not only cut costs but facilitated greater choice? SIP trunking suddenly got a lot more interesting.