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October 30, 2006

In-Stat: IP PBX Suppliers Must Focus on Partnerships and Mobility to Succeed

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor

In the old days, private branch exchanges (PBXs)—a telephone exchange owned privately by a computer—were standalone systems. But those days are now gone, In-Stat (News - Alert) said in a new report out today.
PBXs, In-Stat said, now function as “rather just one component of a larger unified corporate communication system that includes e-mail, IM/presence, dual-mode phones, video conferencing, etc.”
This shift comes thanks to Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications, which enables not only data but multimedia applications like voice and video to be sent over computer networks.
Despite the benefits of IP PBXs, adoption of the new technology has not been as fast as some in the industry predicted or would like to see.
“Full IP PBX (News - Alert) deployments across the entire scope of the enterprise remain relatively rare,” In-Stat said, noting that large companies are more likely to go IP than smaller ones.
So what can be done to speed up adoption? In-Stat analyst Norm Bogen said the best thing PBX supplies can do to stress the obsolescence of traditional systems is by working with partners to change the way employees communicate with one another.
“IP PBX players must radically change their historical business models in ways that replace hardware revenues with software and services,” Bogen said in a statement. “One leg of such strategies requires IP PBX players to walk the fine line between cooperation and competition with powerful players like Microsoft (News - Alert).”  

Partnerships with the likes of Microsoft are only the start, In-Stat said. PBX supplies also need to stay on top of their game by producing products that keep abreast with advancing technologies, such as dual-mode phones (cellular/802.11 wireless) which are making mobility an even more important feature of IP PBXs.
Despite the challenges ahead for PBX suppliers, In-Stat sees a bright future for IP PBXs. The research firm predicts that line shipments of IP PBX systems will increase to 37.8 million in 2010, up from 19.1 million in 2006.
 Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page. Also check out her Wireless Mobility blog.


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