The post-PBX world: It’s about people, not ports

Researchers from Current Analysis discuss the gradual evolution from private branch exchanges to unified communication and SIP trunking. What the advent of CRM could teach us

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As we begin to play out the last few months of 2013, it is clear that when it comes to the networked communications landscape, the key word is “transition.”

It’s an increasingly employee-driven, consumerized IT environment, one where savvy decision makers are “hoping they’ve already purchased their last PBX,” according to one industry observer.

We are living in a post-PBX world, noted Brad Shimmin, research director at research firm Current Analysis in a recent webinar. He added: “Clearly the future is more than wire and telephones. But what is it?”

Back in January, Network World confidently predicted that when it comes to unified communications (UC), “landline voice providers will continue to enhance their VoIP services with presence management, but mobile services will still be lagging when it comes to offering the consumer a ‘unified experience.’” And recall IDC’s UC prediction that UC would extend to enterprise social networks this year. But are organizations getting the message around such disruptive technologies? A recent article asserted that “the consumerization of IT has little to do with technology itself—and has everything to do with the way employees work.”

Thinking of collaboration enabled business processes (CEBP) are old news, offers Shimmin, adding it’s about organizations being able to effectively weave communications into the way business operate, to get at these business outcomes.

Looking at the “new models for enterprise communications,” the future is still very much about mobility, video, and the cloud — so thinking about a post-PBX environment involves establishing a clear and valued path forward, he offers.

“The industry is ready to make this leap…it just needs to look at its own technology, from another perspective,” say Shimmin. Today’s vendors are looking at being more flexible on this front — connecting people with the right information and experts at the right time — it’s about the idea of thinking of people, not ports.

If they haven’t already, companies will need to prepare for consumerization of IT and its impact on integrated technologies such as UC, he added. It’s now about a move from hardware to software, from industry to business; as organizations seek to take advantage of UC in the office and within mobile environments, Shimmin offered that CIOs and technology leaders are looking to leverage their huge existing communications investment to direct future business value.

Indeed, as organizations realize that the benefit of moving away from PBX hardware and the inherent space, cooling and maintenance costs involved, Shimmin added that organizations should potentially adopt the customer relationship management model in transitioning away from PBX, citing Cisco’s “Internet of Everything” approach where networked connections  — and options such as cloud communications and hosted PBX — can help quickly leverage real-time information for positive business outcomes and a lower total cost of ownership.

From a general perspective, experts note that post-PBX best practices include taking stock of the IT migration requirements, carefully evaluating solution pricing models, looking at tighter integration between business and application processes, and potentially developing an enterprise model that leverages an open SIP core.

“There are some very interesting notions of connecting people with people with the right information and experts at the right time. This is an idea that of course works for customer relationship management but can work well beyond that in a lot of departments and use cases outside of those traditional realms.”

The next step: Download Allstream’s Hosted Collaboration Solution’s Technical Overview of UC in the Cloud.

Image courtesy of Ppiboon at

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