IP call centers will do well despite VoIP slowdown

Last year's furious growth will not me matched as companies tighten expenditures

Sales of IP contact centers will grow in 2009, but probably not as dramatically as they did in 2008 due to an expected slowdown in sales of IP telephony gear, according to a new Infonetics report.

Worldwide, businesses bought $851 million in IP contact center equipment, up 37% from $622 million in 2007, based on the report, Unified Communications and IP Contact Center Market Share and Forecasts. The 2008 numbers are based on actual sales numbers for the first half of the year and projections for the second half, says Matthias Machowinski, the author of the report.

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That blistering pace will likely not be matched this year because sales of IP phone equipment will drop off due to the overall economic climate. "We expect companies to scrutinize expenditures a lot in 2009," Machowinski says, with some areas such as networking gear to face less dramatic reductions than IP phone systems.

Within IP telephony, contact centers will do relatively well however for two reasons. First, the transition between TDM phone systems and IP phone systems is still in progress, and will continue. IP contact centers ride that trend, he says.

And second, improved efficiency and capability that IP contact centers can deliver promise a better bottom line for businesses that rely on the centers for sales and customer service, he says. "IP contact centers can drive costs out of customer interactions," by making them quicker and tying up agents for less time per call so they can handle more calls, he says.

"We still expect IP contact center sales to grow," Machowinski says, "But if you go from 37% to 5%, let's say, it could be considered a disappointment."

Avaya leads competitors in both the number of seats sold and in revenues, controlling 40% of the seats and 35% of the revenues, with Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent lagging behind. Cisco, however, is gaining, perhaps as a consequence of its success selling IP PBXs. "[An IP contact center] is a logical follow-up sale to an IP PBX," Machowinski says.

This story, "IP call centers will do well despite VoIP slowdown" was originally published by Network World.

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