Is PBX for Business still a Viable Solution?
Although some recent reports have suggested that PBX for business may be nearing its end, a closer look at those figures reveals that virtual office phone solutions and other advanced enterprise collaboration technologies are still just as prevalent as ever and are becoming more popular with companies everywhere.
In particular, an Infonetics Research report from last month found that during the first quarter of 2013, PBX revenue was down while sales of unified communications solutions were on the rise. Although some may view these statistics as a sure sign that PBX for business is becoming irrelevant, communications industry analyst Dave Michels wrote in UCStrategies that a closer inspection of the Infonetics report shows that these claims are likely premature.
For one, Michels noted that a decline in revenue does not mean that fewer small and medium-sized businesses are leveraging a virtual office phone systems. Rather, it could be indicative of greater competition in the marketplace, with providers offering lower prices to consumers.
“Consider newspaper sales for a moment,” he wrote. “The format largely changed from a physical good to a service. Newspaper sales are way down, but news consumption is probably actually higher. Equating product revenue with sales … may not be accurate.”
What do Experts say about PBX Telephone Systems?
Additionally, another factor that Infonetics used to determine the popularity of PBX for business is a decline in the number of physical communication ports utilized today. According to Michels, this is yet again a perilous way to calculate PBX’s popularity. While port counts were an effective metric when the only option for SMBs was an on-premise solution, the proliferation of hosted PBX makes this number moot. For example, what Infonetics may be counting as one port could actually be supporting dozens of end users. In particular, the rise of mobile phone call forwarding and voicemail to email functionality means that one person could be responsible for multiple ports, even though Infonetics would not be taking this into account.
Why hosted PBX Phone Services are an Ideal Solution for Small Businesses
Although claims that all PBX telephone system configurations are on the decline are likely premature, Michels noted in a May discussion on the topic that on-premise PBX setups are definitely on the wane. Indeed, separate research from last month confirmed this. A survey of 308 IT professionals conducted by Dimensional Research found that more than 67 percent were dissatisfied with their on-premise PBX telephone system, FierceMobileIT reported.
In his discussion of the Infonetics findings last month, Michels noted that the only definite conclusion that can be reached is that legacy communication configurations are dead and that businesses of all sizes are increasingly clamoring for more flexible solutions. Voice communication is still ubiquitous in corporate settings today, but the systems used to support it are increasingly interconnected with the cloud and other transformative technologies.
“The issue of industry transformation is creating a whole set of issues – for vendors and channel partners,” Michels wrote earlier this month. “Any organization that relies on transactional margin is getting squeezed. That’s why business models need to transition away from margin-based transactions. The emerging models embrace recurring revenue streams such as hosted residuals and/or professional services such as integration and implementations. Transitions are both dangerous and exciting. We are navigating new conditions and it is critical to use the right measures as well as question the old ones.”
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