Infonetics pegged PBX growth at 7% last year and they further mentioned that companies are beginning to slowly see the benefits of IP-PBX systems beyond the typical costs savings associated with lower phone bills.
With unified communications software now available and the meshing of such systems with business process software, perhaps we can expect even more market growth in 2008.
Most people I talk with in the communications space tell me they are seeing great promise in 2008 and moreover they believe companies will spend money in a slow economy if they see this spending paying off in some way.
Still, all is not rosy in the communications market as the once high-flying, recently IPOed ShoreTel has had some recent earnings trouble, share price pain and downgrades by Piper Jaffray and Janney Montgomery Scott.
Of course ShoreTel is not alone but they signify the reason why all communications companies have to look into other areas to ensure they grow.
For example, CEBP is one way to justify increased spending on equipment, software and consulting. After all, increased productivity can be directly correlated into cost savings. In addition, in many companies the people with the largest technology budgets are the ones who purchase applications.
In a recent meeting with Nortel execs in fact they made a great point… Five years ago they said, the telecom manager got swallowed up by the datacom manager who began to own the budgets. Now, the applications people have the budgets and dictate to the datacom people what they should do. So the datacom departments of today are becoming the telecom departments of yesterday.
This evolution is good news for the communications market because massive amounts of money will be spent to boost efficiency through the optimal merging of applications and telephony. This includes things like presence and location detection, application intercommunication and more.
IBM is doing an admirable job attempting to be the center of this communications revolution with a billion dollar investment and Avaya too has come up with a number of unified communications innovations which allow them to benefit from these trends. Finally, there is Microsoft who is also doing an incredible job working with various partners to be the center of the new application centric communications world.
In fact, Microsoft recently announced a partnership and investment with Aspect to facilitate their desired role of being at the center of telephony/application intersection.
In a way, Microsoft’s news has the fastest ROI as the call center has always been relatively quick to spend money if they can show a ROI. This does not mean call center managers like to change… It means if they are shown that change will save them money with no risk, they will change.
I plan on covering the above companies in much greater detail in the upcoming months and it will be lots of fun to report and opine upon. I wonder which companies will be the winners in the race to spread UC and CEBP throughout the world. More importantly, I am so curious to know how much revenue the communications market will generate when you factor in all the new communications enabled programs and consulting hours that will be spent over the next decade.
Most importantly, we at TMC will continue to report how improved communications systems enable companies to react more quickly and become more efficient. As the pace of adoption and innovation increases, I look forward to the communications industry helping to improve the world economy.