CIO Jury: Are VoIP benefits worth the risk?

Flexibility and cost outweigh 'eggs in one basket' scenario

IT chiefs overwhelmingly believe the benefits of converged voice and data networks outweigh the risks, according to the latest CIO Jury.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses IP-based networks, such as the public internet - instead of standard telephone lines - to carry voice communications by converting it into data packets that can be routed just like an email or any other kind of data.

While the cost savings associated with using VoIP have been well documented there are risks involved, such as having a single point of failure by putting all voice and data communications over the same network.

We asked our panel of CIO Jury members whether the benefits outweighed the danger of 'putting all your eggs in one basket' scenario.

The result was almost unanimous with 11 IT chiefs saying 'yes' the benefits are too great and just one saying 'no'.

Bill Gibbons, CIO at Abbey Group, said the single point of failure issue is addressable by careful resilience planning and architectural design. "Traffic prioritisation of both data and voice requirements agreed with the business can and should form part of the service statement. Ally to this the flexibility and cost benefits of VoIP means you can drive demonstrable business benefits," he said.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO at Manpower, agreed that proper resilience planning should eliminate any single point of failure. "In selected locations around the world Manpower has successfully combined Voice with our Global WAN without any degradation of service – but with cost reduction and functionality improvements. Careful analysis of a rigorous business case is needed together with the choice of the right technology partners – just like an IT project," he said.

Dave Williams, IT director at budget airline Flybe, said there are definite cost advantages to integration. "We are trialling voice/data integration locally and remotely. Most of us have mobile phones which we plan to use in certain backup scenarios if/when we encounter problems," he said.

Henry McNeill, CIO at Telstra Europe, said it is not about 'putting all your eggs in one basket'. "The key is finding an appropriate solution to fit your business to make the best use of technology and available savings. For example, customers don't have to rip out their PBX network to make use of VoIP gateways between sites."

The one voice of dissent came from Pete Smith, director of IT and telecoms at Inmarsat, who said the benefits don't outweigh the risks for most large corporates with an existing wired phone infrastructure.

Read a more in-depth look at our CIO Jury results on VoIP tomorrow on

Today's CIO Jury was…

Ian Auger, head of IT and communications, ITN
Graham Benson, information services director and CIO, Screwfix Direct
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO, Manpower
Derek Gannon, IT director, The Guardian
Bill Gibbons, CIO, Abbey Group
Henry McNeill, CIO, Telstra Europe
Rory O'Boyle, head of IT, The Football Association
Phil Pavitt, CIO, NTL
Steve Ritchie, CIO Investcorp
Pete Smith, director of IT and telecoms, Inmarsat
Dave Williams, IT director, Flybe
Graham Yellowley, director of technology, Tokyo-Mitsubishi

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and want to be part of's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at

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