Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology will have a far-reaching impact beyond lowering telephone bills. It will change the role of the CIO, say analysts at Gartner.
The migration of voice onto IP networks means it effectively becomes an IT application, raising the possibility of using voice-enabled versions of enterprise applications, believes Neil Rickard, VP for enterprise communications at Gartner.
Speaking at Gartner's IT Symposium in Cannes, Rickard suggested that convergence of email, instant messaging, fixed and mobile voice services threatens to overwhelm CIOs that do not plan for this change: "We're talking about a complete change in role; businesses are going to need a communications czar or some kind of chief process officer to manage this."
The first instances of this ‘messaging-as-a-virtual-service' world will be seen in corporate instant messaging, where a user's location and device choices will determine communication channels, he maintains. Already messaging services, such as Yahoo and AOL, are beginning to work with telecom providers to establish partnerships capable of delivering this service.
The ultimate manifestation of this would see contact centres, collaboration software, email, voice and instant messaging form a unified communication service, potentially pitching vendors as disparate as BT, Microsoft and Accenture against each other, says Rickard.