Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are not making the most of their converged networks, according to a survey from BT Business.

Convergence of voice and data onto a single network is becoming ever more popular, with over a third of UK SMEs having already moved to a single communications network, and a further quarter expecting to make the switch in the next two years. But a lack of planning, along with confusion around the technology involved, means that the majority of businesses who have migrated to a converged network are failing to realise the potential or articulate the true value of their investment, says BT.

Cost savings was the biggest driver for convergence, cited by 79 per cent of respondents, but an alarming 78 per cent of companies did not build a business case to measure return on investment. As a result, unsurprisingly, 60 per cent could not indicate whether results had matched up to their expectations.

Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business, said: “Effective planning and deployment of converged technologies can really transform an organisation, making it measurably more productive, agile and competitive. The fact that convergence is so high on the SME agenda, but with many indicating a failure in planning and understanding RoI, clearly points to a requirement for education and support. Convergence is a huge opportunity for UK businesses, but to maximise the potential of moving to a single communications infrastructure, businesses of all sizes need practical guidance.”

The findings coincide with Understanding Convergence, the first of a series of free guides which BT Business says will de-mystify key technology issues, debunk the biggest myths, and help businesses understand how to get the most from their IT and communications systems.

Of course, it's not just convergence of technology: BT is also pushing the advantages of using a single supplier for convergence projects. The company’s research suggested many companies had problems with implementation, with 65 per cent saying they found the process complicated. Murphy commented: “With the right supplier and an integrated approach to support, service and assurance, a business can free itself from juggling multiple management relationships, enabling it to focus on its core business and customers whilst reaping the rewards of a converged communications solution.”