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Unified Communications: June 03, 2014 eNewsletter
June 03, 2014

As PBX Market Hits Some Hurdles, Unified Communications Flourish

By Joe Rizzo, TMCnet Contributing Writer

A private branch exchange, or PBX (News - Alert), is a private telephone network used within an enterprise. Users of the PBX share a certain number of outside lines for making telephone calls external to the PBX. Most medium-sized and larger companies use a PBX because it's much less expensive than connecting an external telephone line to every telephone in the organization. In addition, the system makes it easier to call someone within a PBX, due to the fact that the number you need to dial is typically just 3 or 4 digits.

What was once a very valuable business asset, the PBX market is now experiencing some instabilityWhile the PBX market is waiting at the stop sign, unified communications (UC) seems to have the green light and is moving head. ITSPs have been successfully expanding their networks into more regions, bringing higher quality Voice over IP (VoIP) networks and SIP trunking, driving uptake of more valuable Unified Communications services in lieu of investments in new PBXs.

Today, market research firm Infonetics Research released its 1st quarter 2014 report entitled “Enterprise Unified Communications and Voice Equipment.” This report tracks PBX phone systems, voice over IP gateways, unified communications applications, as well as IP phones.

The recent information shows the impact on the global PBX market. One of the highlights is that the market only generated $1.8 billion in revenue in the first quarter last year. This represents a nine percent decrease from the previous year’s fourth quarter. What makes it significant is that it was the lowest that the PBX market has been since second quarter 2009.

The author of the report, Diane Myers, who is also principal analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics Research, noted that "The enterprise telephony market continues to struggle as businesses hold off new PBX purchases and invest instead in unified communications applications. Purchase cycles are getting longer and competitive activity is putting pressure on the market with pricing all over the map."

Though it has had a negative impact on the PBX market, the trend has buoyed the UC market, which enjoyed growth of about 27 percent, year-over-year.

Some of the highlights of the enterprise telephony and UC market report include the following:

  • Worldwide PBX revenue (TDM, hybrid, and pure IP) is down  eight percent in Q1 2014 from Q1 2013 and down eight percent from Q1 2013
  • Although there are pockets of growth in parts of Europe and South America, along with strength down market, none of it is large enough to lift the overall PBX market
  • The unified communications (UC) segment is the lone bright spot, racking up a 27 percent worldwide revenue increase in Q1 2014 from the same period a year ago
  • CALA (the Caribbean and Latin America) is the only region to notch positive year-over-year PBX revenue growth in Q1 2014, as economic activity picked up in anticipation of the World Cup
  • Cisco, Avaya, and NEC (News - Alert) are the PBX market share leaders; Mitel cracked the top 4 as a result of its merger with Aastra
  • Microsoft, who leads the UC market, is the only vendor in the enterprise telephony segment to post year-over-year revenue growth in Q1 2014

It is not surprising to hear that people really want everything to be unified. It just makes life easier, according to Infonetics, despite the unpredictable PBX market the demand for unified communications is still on the rise. In fact, the market for unified communications is up both sequentially and annually with revenues 21 percent higher in the first quarter of 2013 than the same time in 2012.

We live in a world of being connected all the time regardless of where we are. The workforce is no longer located just in the office. Everyone is constantly on the go, and they need to stay connected with colleagues, as well as customers. Microsoft (News - Alert) Lync is one such platform for unified communications, and one that is growing rapidly.

As carriers improve and expand their networks, unified communications will continue to evolve and mature alongside the rest of the telecommunications industry. By working with a trusted Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP) provider, executives can take steps to learn more about the system and how IT departments can deploy the technology without encountering unnecessary complications. This will lead to more gains for unified communications and more problems for the PBX market.

A couple of important aspects are a combination of security and ease of use – a complicated product serves no use. In the big picture, Microsoft Lync has gained quite a bit of ground in the past couple of years. While the integration of Skype (News - Alert) has made video calls more of an everyday feature, IP voice still comes with its challenges.

By integrating enterprise SBCs into Lync deployments, enterprises' UC visions become reality, as the SBCs help protect, secure, simplify and standardize real-time, SIP-based multimedia communications.

We have seen that just in the last year, as a unified communications platform, Lync has seen a great deal of growth. Although there is still room for additional growth, Lync is already very big business for Microsoft. As we can see from Infonetics’ latest quarterly report, UC in general, is making major strides and will only continue to improve and grow. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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