Will Security Concerns Hold Back SMB VoIP Adoption?

By Sean Michael Kerner

November 08, 2005

New CompTIA study reveals that most SMBs don't trust current VoIP security measures.

A new study sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) has found that most SMB's don't trust the security in current VoIP solutions. The feeling of insecurity isn't going to last too long though; the study also found that the lure of VoIP is likely to reel in plenty of SMB customers over the next 18 months.

The CompTIA study, conducted by IDC, surveyed 300 U.S. businesses in the SMB category (20–500 employees). Only 48 percent of respondents indicated they trust current VoIP security, in stark contrast to the 76 percent who said they trusted security in traditional telephony. The perception of the lack of security with VoIP is, however, likely to change, according to survey respondents, with 31 percent reporting that they will have greater confidence in VoIP security in the next 12 months.

"Though we did not ask respondents to explain why they expect to have greater confidence, we suspect that their confidence will increase as they grow more comfortable with the technology," CompTIA spokesperson Steven Ostrowski said. "Clearly the message for manufacturers, VARs, and solution providers is that if you are going in to sell a new telephony system, you will have to make the sale across many areas, including security."

Service disruptions on voice and data networks are a particularly costly problem for SMBs; 60 percent reported that they had some kind of voice or data communication delay at least monthly. Those delays lead to some form of material impact on business for 70 percent of respondents, with 28 percent indicating that they lost business as a result.

Despite the potential pitfalls of IP telephony, 40 percent of respondents are currently evaluating converged network solutions, or plan to within the next 18 months. Eighteen percent are either currently deploying or plan to deploy a converged solution within the next 18 months

"These plans for deployment and evaluation are even more impressive when you consider that nearly two-thirds of these companies said they are generally satisfied with their existing communications systems," Ostrowski said. "Small and medium-size businesses clearly believe converged voice and data networks—and applications—have real business value, whether it is through reducing the cost of internal and external communications systems; streamlining management of voice and data networks; or improving productivity throughout their operations."

SMBs do recognize the value in converged solutions, such as unified messaging and integrated voice and data applications. Twenty-five percent of respondents, when asked about unified messaging systems, indicated that they have already deployed unified messaging and felt it provided "good business value." Another 41 percent have not deployed unified messaging but said they recognize it would provide good business value.

Ostrowski noted that the survey asked a similar question about phone and business application integration, such as click-to-dial directories and caller ID integration with customer relationship management (CRM) system. Sixteen percent of respondents said they have deployed these solutions and feel they provide good business value. Another 47 percent have not deployed them but recognize that it would provide good business value.

"Customers will need to be convinced that not only does an IP telephony solution have efficiency and cost effectiveness, it really is a robust, reliable, and secure system," Ostrowski explained. "The IT industry has done a good job creating awareness of the importance and value of security from the data perspective. We now have to do the same for voice."



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