UC drives future growth of PBX market

PBX systems helped organizations stay connected through the pandemic, and productivity features like video and mobility are making cloud-based UC critical in the work-from-anywhere era. At the same time, SIP Trunking could help to further boost performance.

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The pandemic wreaked havoc across several industries—like hospitality—disrupting supply chains, causing product shortages and driving up unemployment. On the other hand, many organizations were able to successfully pivot to a work-from-home model, thanks to cloud-based unified communications (UC).

In many cases, the pandemic accelerated their digital transformation plans and set a foundation for the future of work (including hybrid work and work-from-anywhere).

The PBX industry fared surprisingly well during this time, according to a new report, Worldwide Hosted and Premises PBX Market 2021-2027 and Managed Services, from the Eastern Management Group, a U.S.-based communications research firm.

And new phone system sales are expected to keep growing—until at least 2027.

Phone systems for a WFA world

As employees return to the office (in some form or another), the Eastern Management Group forecasts robust global phone system shipments in its survey of 5,599 IT managers.

While the PBX industry slowed, it performed well overall, and cloud (specifically, UCaaS) made up one-third of all new PBX sales. While COVID drove some of these sales, so too did PBX replacement cycles (typically every eight to nine years).

On-prem PBX system sales declined less than expected, accounting for 40 per cent of all shipments, while hybrid and virtualized PBX showed resiliency with a 25 per cent combined overall PBX market share.

Benefits of a new phone system

“In prior decades the PBX industry might not have withstood COVID. Yet more than 50 million employees benefited from a new phone system in 2021 for multiple reasons,” according to Eastern Management Group.

One reason? Productivity improvement features on new phone systems—like mobility and video—allowed employees to work from home (or anywhere).

And for a small monthly fee on a cloud-based UC system, organizations could see a 50 per cent increase in productivity, according to Eastern Management Group. At the same time, prices for on-prem PBX systems dropped, helping to bolster sales.

“We expect continued PBX growth throughout the decade,” says John Malone, president of the Eastern Management Group, in a release. “New PBX sales should surpass 50 million seat/line licenses every year. No matter the phone system platform, there’s not a bad PBX market to be in today.”

Boosting UC with SIP trunking


UCaaS applications will continue to fuel the hybrid workplace—and enable WFH and WFA. But it will also be essential in contact centres, allowing agents to seamlessly perform their job, whether working from home or at the office, without disruption to the customer.

But SIP trunking could be the secret sauce that brings it all together, boosting overall performance.

“Many global businesses with an expansive customer and prospect base, widespread offices, or work from home employees can reap rewards using carrier-grade SIP trunking,” says Eastern Management Group in its Carrier-Grade SIP Trunking Report.

“With or without SaaS, the advantages of implementing carrier-grade SIP trunking include keeping control of call routing, extending coverage to more markets, assuring acceptable quality, and avoiding service interruptions due to compliance issues.”

Read more:

Do you have to choose between SIP and UCaaS?
How UC can create an in-office experience anywhere
Is legacy PBX holding you back? How SIP can help

This can come with additional advantages.

“In some cases, SIP trunk carriers offer management services that offer valuable features such as intrusion protection and priority routing,” says Carrie Goetz in an article for TechTarget.

“Keeping your SIP trunk carrier may be the deciding factor for your firewall, as well. If you keep your SIP trunks, you need only reconfigure the firewall to pass traffic along to new endpoints with your new cloud UC provider.”

The PBX market clearly isn’t going anywhere, but cloud-based productivity features are helping organizations evolve with the times—and be prepared for the future of work, whatever that looks like.

Images: PeopleImages/iStock; metamorworks/iStock

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