Gaining control over wireless environments is the highest telecom priority for North American firms, according to a new survey of 1,500 telecom decision-makers from Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). Enterprises and small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) ranked setting wireless policy and centralizing management of mobile devices as the top two telecom initiatives for 2006. Budgets reflect these priorities: In 2006, SMBs plan to spend closer to one-third more on both mobile voice and mobile data services than in 2005. Fifty-six percent of enterprises expect spending on mobile voice to increase, and 63 percent expect mobile data spending to increase.

Forrester’s annual survey found that spending on landline services was the only area expected to decrease, as firms move legacy voice traffic and spend more on VoIP and wireless. In general, many of the spending initiatives and adoption patterns were similar across a variety of company sizes, with mobility, security, MPLS, and VoIP all capturing mindshare. Forrester did find that companies whose networks include both international and domestic sites have higher adoption rates of VoIP, MPLS, SSL, and mobile data compared with companies that only operate domestic networks.

Use Of Mobility Soars

Companies of all sizes spend nearly one-quarter of their telecom budgets on wireless services, and that number continues to grow. The percentage of large companies that have increased mobile data spending has doubled since 2005, and 19 percent of the enterprise workforce now uses mobile data applications. SMBs expect 23 percent of their workforce to use mobile data by the end of 2006.

  • SMB adoption of wireless email (28 percent) and calendaring (25 percent) lags behind adoption in enterprises (71 percent and 66 percent, respectively).
  • Wireless email adoption is set to grow for SMBs, with 26 percent rolling out or piloting these services in 2006.
  • With adoption of mobile email exceeding 70 percent, large companies are now turning to evaluating and deploying mobile line-of-business applications such as mobile sales force automation, logistics, and customer relationship management (CRM). Adoption levels vary widely by industry.

Network Security Spending Escalates

As companies continue to migrate away from legacy data services and onto IP, they will continue to invest in security services. Enterprises expect to increase network security spending 66 percent over last year. Although many of the security technologies are outsourced, interest in managed security service providers varies by company size and by respondent job title.

  • Forty-eight percent of SMBs use outsourced antivirus technology.
  • Content filtering is outsourced by 30 percent of enterprises and by 34 percent of SMBs.
  • Firewalls are outsourced by 26 percent of enterprises and by 42 percent of SMBs.
  • Nearly half (44 percent) of SMBs would prefer to acquire managed security services from security equipment vendors.

Migration From Legacy Data To IP Accelerates

MPLS adoption is surging — especially among enterprises with 20,000 or more employees — where 52 percent plan to increase spending this year. Organizations are migrating away from legacy site-to-site services and onto MPLS at an increasing rate. Through 2005, 17 percent of enterprises completed migration to MPLS, and another 22 percent plan to move this year. For SMBs, site-to-site VPNs are the preferred form of broadband networking technologies with usage at 48 percent, compared with the 16 percent currently using MPLS.

Use And Evaluation Of IP-PBX And Site-To-Site VoIP Solutions Continues To Climb

Migrating voice to an IP network is a critical priority in 2006 for 17 percent of enterprises and for 10 percent of SMBs. With 45 percent of SMB telecom budgets consumed by landline services, many firms are looking to VoIP to reduce those costs.

  • Three times as many enterprises are trialing or evaluating VoIP in 2006 compared with 2005.
  • Fourteen percent of enterprises have fully deployed IP-PBX with another 32 percent rolling out or in partial development.
  • SMBs adoption is progressing with 15 percent already using VoIP as a replacement for traditional PBX and another 35 percent reporting interest.
  • Adoption of VoIP for interoffice voice communications is taking hold with medium-size companies leading adoption at 25 percent, followed by enterprises at 16 percent.

The research, “The State Of Enterprise Network And Telecom Adoption: Business Technographics® North America” and “The State Of SMB Network And Telecom Adoption: Business Technographics North America,” also includes adoption and spending trends for contact centers, service bundles, and Internet access. Both reports also include details on carrier/provider preferences and breakdown by industry.