And while many of the benefits touted (lower telecom costs) and concerns (security, reliability) in the past are still relevant, the more interesting angle for VoIP is its ability to improve collaboration, data access, and productivity among users.
Last week, I visited the Department of Health & Human Services' 24-hour Command Center, the place from which Secretary Tommy Thompson keeps a close eye on public health, including potential epidemics, bioterrorist attacks, and natural disasters. The center has deployed IP phones from Avaya that serve as an integration point for a number of processes. For example, they let the secretary and command-center operators set up videoconferences with national or international health officials, state governors, even the White House. A push of another button displays geographical information system data (maps that pinpoint virus outbreaks, weather maps, or details of city streets). Oh, yeah, and there's a cost benefit. Because the phones are based on IP, it means the department is just a local call away from the World Health Organization in Geneva.