More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of Australian organisations with an Internet connection now have a virtual private network (VPN), and 94 per cent of those provide access to financial applications, according to Optus’ third annual IP Index report.
The research, based on interviews with 74 senior decision-makers at companies of varying sizes, also showed that access to customer relationship management (CRM) applications had jumped from 33 per cent last year to 62 per cent in 2004.
Almost one-fifth (29 per cent) of organisations had deployed Voice over IP (VoIP), half of which had installed in IP-PBX, the other half running it over existing network connections, the report said.
But Optus Business’ marketing director, Titus Yong, said the figures would increase with the maturity of IP standards and development and proliferation of mobile devices.
“These results should not be surprising — in fact, access to financial applications should be higher,” Yong said. “Mobile devices will be key to growth.”
Yong described how mobile devices used to be seen as a lifestyle tool, but were now being used for serious business applications that would revolutionise access to the corporate network.
The report indicated that smartphone use in companies with VPNs was expected to increase from 12 per cent to 31 per cent in the next 12 months.
“If you look at devices like the Blackberry, we’re now talking about giving employees intranet access on the move,” Yong said. “People also used to think the Xda [Optus smartphone] was a sexy lifestyle tool but not for work ... They’ve gone beyond that now.”
Optus’ move into networking echoes a general trend across the industry for the operators to start improving the quality of their business services.
“The vendors’ implementation skills has been traditionally quite weak,” Yong said. “There are a lot more robust solutions out there that we can actually make work in an enterprise.
“A customer deploying Voice over IP would have to set up a lot of the network by themselves. We are working with partners to marry up technologies and implement solutions for our customers. The industry is now beginning to catch up.”