IDC research has revealed that large enterprise sentiment is incongruous with industry hype that IP (internet protocol) technology will be mission-critical to business success today.
IDC Australia's annual WAN Manager Survey: WAN Adoption, February-March, was conducted among 130 high-end WAN (wide area networking) managers from the financial, government, manufacturing, retail and hospitality sectors.
While Joel Martin, IDC senior analyst, data communication, described the sample as having "high corporate standards", he conceded that it showed an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude towards IP adoption.
Eight per cent of Australian businesses surveyed said they planned to deploy IP telephony across their network in the next 12 months. This would co-exist with their PABX systems. On the other hand, 8 per cent of Australian businesses said they had no plans to use IP telephony within the next year.
The other 84 per cent of Australian businesses surveyed didn't know what direction they were heading in. They were focused on finding cost-competitive solutions before converting data and voice video over one medium, Martin said.
By comparison, 20 per cent of ASEAN countries planned to invest in an IP telephony solution in a year, while 16 per cent had no intention of doing so.
Around 70 per cent of ASEAN countries will invest in hybrid IP solutions depending on who their supplier is. They were particular about adopting only "best of breed" voice and data solutions, according to Martin.
He said the ASEAN countries, excluding Japan, "are going to leap-frog and embrace new (IP) technologies. They've got the feeds and speeds to this technology."
The study showed Australia is seeing slow migration to IP in wide area networking (WAN). Uptake will be driven by the small branch offices of SMEs, a trend which will reflect the Asia-Pacific uptake, Martin said.
He predicted all businesses will expand the use of IP telephony outside the private domain in the next two years.
However, he added large enterprise was holding back on adoption due to concerns over the quality of IP service. "The quality of connection is not very high in Australia," Martin said.
Instead, Australian businesses currently employ far more "educational", internal use of IP-based communication, according to Martin.
Finance companies in their private networks and manufacturing industries in their external networks are the sectors most keen to implement IP technology.
Martin felt it was "too early" to cite Australian customers implementing IP or VoIP across enterprise networks, although he did name Telstra and Optus as reputable local providers of "core level" IP technology.
He also refuted speculation that IDC's research may have been influenced by recent vendor hype. "IP telephony will take off in 2002," provided businesses ensure they have adequate bandwidth to manage IP, Martin predicted.
"It's going to happen," he maintained. "Voice is a company's most critical application. When there's no telephone to communicate with customers, suppliers, vendors or partners, you can go out of business. IP is the future in Australia's businesses," Martin said.