About 23% of mid-sized enterprises in Canada have already invested in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and the technology will account for 50% to 60% of the mid-sized enterprise telephony market within the next three years, states a report by Info-Tech Research Group.  The report found that 40% of the mid-sized market segment intends to implement VoIP technology within the next three years, and that VoIP technology adoption in the segment will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 35% over the next three years. Interest in VoIP in the mid-sized market is driven by two factors: cost and advanced features, states the report. "In addition to the cost advantages inherent in VoIP comes the potential for a variety of advanced features that have traditionally eluded office telephony systems.  Unified messaging, advanced call routing, and the integration of telephony with applications, such as CRM systems, are all realistic propositions in a VoIP environment," states the report.The report concludes that converged networks are viable, but cautions that careful analysis of requirements and network infrastructure is crucial. Info-Tech research analyst and VoIP expert George Goodall tells Network Letter that VoIP is now at the point where the trade-off of cost savings is more attractive and offsets the risks. He notes that the mid-sized market can be difficult to sell to because of the more risk adverse nature of smaller companies and also because they are often strapped in terms of IT staffing.  Goodall is quick to point out that while more and more mid-sized companies are adopting VoIP, they are not doing it at full throttle. "What we’re seeing is not full-steam ahead at all. It’s really much more of an expansion aspect of things, because there is still some notion of risk aversion there.  So the question for mid-sized companies becomes, ‘How do we expand the functionality of our existing PBX? We’re saying how can we (use VoIP) to get an extra 20% out of this PBX? Can we overlay this VoIP?…VoIP is a very adaptable technology because it can play well with existing technologies. Part of the reason for the interest is that people can experiment and expand gradually as opposed to doing a full-blown forklift removal." The expanding interest in VoIP by the mid-sized market is causing not only small start-up companies to develop and tailor the technology to the needs of that market, but it is also resulting in larger manufacturers adjusting their product lines, according to Goodall. "A lot of people consider the mid-market to be underserved by vendors so there’s a real scramble to push product and create products for that space," he says. "So you’ve got companies like Nortel and Avaya trying to scale down their products, and you’ve got companies like Cisco, which traditionally data networking, jumping on pushing their data products toward telephony…All this energy in the mid-tier is really driving a lot of product evolution."