The next 12 months present a significant opportunity for the channel to provide the next generation of voice services, as further convergence between voice and data occurs. Voice will become virtualised in the same way that IT servers have been revolutionised by virtualisation with the likes of VMware.
In particular, resellers should be considering Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and voice virtualisation, risk compliance and management, and voice biometrics.
Session Initiation Protocol trunking services will be the biggest area of growth this year. Companies will use SIP to reduce the cost of connectivity to service providers and improve the use of telephony resources.
\Products, such as Avaya's Aura IP-communication platform, contain new and existing features including application sequencing and SIP-based session management. These features simplify complex communication networks by centralisation and virtualisation; reduce infrastructure costs; and quickly deliver voice, video, messaging, presence and web applications. This virtualisation of voice services is set to transform voice communication in the same way that server virtualisation has revolutionised the datacentre.
Risk and compliance management
The past couple of years have seen some well-known businesses failing to meet compliance regulations. Utility business Southern Water was fined £20.3m for deliberately misreporting information and delivering poor service to customers while Barclaycard was fined £50,000 for "nuisance calls" - persistent silent and abandoned phone calls to customers.
Today, the need to comply with regulations is a necessity and businesses are moving from a risk-taking attitude to carefully managing their business processes. Companies need to act quickly since the successful ones will be those that marry regulatory compliance and business processes together. So resellers should consider developing services that combine these alongside auditing, risk and compliance software.
Voice biometric data is being used for identification and verification of customers at call centres. The financial services sector is the early adopter with operational uses including phone banking authentication; e-banking transaction security; private banking; and password reset.
With companies using voice biometrics, the customer experience is improved, security enhanced and operational costs reduced. Also, the technology provides companies with effective risk management, compliance with industry regulations and the ability to combat fraud and identity theft.
With voice biometric technology your voice is your password, so it is ideal for remote identity verification and authentication. As it becomes accepted by end-users, it will grow in popularity presenting resellers with significant opportunities.
Resolving problems quickly is top of companies' agenda this year. The communication systems market is relatively under-served in terms of proactive managed services, compared with the IT sector and is ripe for development.
According to forecasts by the consultancy BroadGroup, managed services in Europe will almost triple in value by 2011 to €6.2bn (£5.6bn). This represents a growth rate of about 20% a year.
There is a huge opportunity for resellers to be able to offer standardised or customised solutions that include proactive maintenance, management and transparent reporting. In turn, this provides companies with the scope to improve business decisions and to enhance their performance.
In the UK, we expect to see serious growth in this market with the emergence of on-demand and pay-as-you-go models. All in all, we see a bright future for the channel in 2010 with opportunities for next generation voice services.