Where is the VoIP Market is Going?

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Where is the VoIP Market is Going?

I have been working on this post for a while. I even asked a couple of people in the industry where they thought the Hosted PBX market was going. A few said that integration was going to be important for customers to realize the full impact of Unified Communications. That is certainly true especially at mid-market and larger. It is important to SMB, too, but they don't have the dollars to throw at programmers or systems integrators to make email work with chat, text, video, CRM, help desk, etc. They will have to make-do with off-the-shelf software integration. There are more integrations today than even 6 months ago.

This might explain the deal with RingCentral and InContact. "Said Paul Jarman, inContact CEO, "Last week we signed an OEM agreement with RingCentral, the leader in cloud unified communications. With their recent momentum in the cloud space, and their industry leading enterprise communication platform, we believe that RingCentral is uniquely positioned to help inContact drive strong growth." RC now has deals with AT&T, Rogers in Canada and BT in the UK.

Many think that mobile is going to be the make or break piece, since cloud is impactfully leveraged by people on the go. FMC (fixed mobile convergence) is not as easy to set up as some might think - but then many thought Fax over IP and HD Voice would be prevalent already. Where?

Now I see articles about the end of the desk phone. [One by my colleague, Bill Miller, and the other by AireSpring.] Interesting to note that I have suggested to a few clients that they have packages without Polycom. Dreadful thoughts! Softphones and tablets are sneaking into the business environment every day. Why not take advantage?

For one thing, without selling desk phones, you can shorten the sales cycle. You can actually talk about the benefits and impact that your business phone system can provide. You can have this talk because hardware (and its deployment) has been removed from the opening discussion.

Yet IF desk phones are declining, why are Yealink and snom spending so much time and money to get more traction (in the US)? Is it all just a shrinking market and they are just grabbing share from Polycom? I truly don't know. I do know that VoIP salespeople sell phones because it is how they are taught it is how they know how to sell -- via replacement. It is the process -- ask for bill, ask home many phones, ask how many phones lines, present quote with we can save you 15%, sign here.

If mobile is so important, how come softphones aren't included? If mobile is so vital, how come every VoIP number isn't text enabled? (When Frontier is ahead of you in this space, maybe you should re-think your career choices.)

I think it is a wish that it will be all mobile, smartphones and unicorns. The reality is most people are still working the way they were 10 or 15 years ago. Instead of discs of software, they have apps or websites, but not much else is different in many workplaces.

We would like to think that everyone is a knowledge worker or a virtual employee or a mobile sales pro. However, it just isn't so.

Also, one reason some small businesses are cellphone only is price, not convenience or a better experience. They can't (or don't want to) pay for a cell and a landline or VoIP service. It explains why Grasshopper and so many other virtual auto-attendant services (FreedomVoice, Google Voice, Phone.com, RC) are still raking in money. Easier to set up and use an auto attendant than a full blown Hosted PBX. No extra hardware. Meanwhile, no one explained how easy the softphone could be!! educated the buyer on the ease and use of softphones. If anyone could impact that side of it, Genband should, since they bought fring. Between fring (like WhatsApp) and Kandy (WebRTC), Genband could produce a mobile client experience that is pleasing to the users. If only.

We are still a distance from the desk phone's death. (For that matter, will we see HD Voice inter-connection first?)

For the share number of VoIP players to survive, they will have to get a lot better at telling their story and selling their services. A lot better.

A Little on That

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Insurance companies had to learn how to sell in today's marketplace, too. (See GapingVoid here.) They had to transition to Smarter Conversations. People that see a bleak future and/or have little disposable income aren't going to spend on life insurance, disability and IRAs.

Sales has to be about the business and its goals and outcomes.

The cost savings of cloud is debatable. So is the TCO and ROI* calculations. That means it has to be about changing the way a customer does business. Note that most businesses still do business the same way they did 10 years ago. So....

Dimension Data's Tina Gravel talks about how many sales managers are struggling to get salespeople to sell cloud services. And to do that they have to stop selling the old way, the way they have been selling for years and years.

The same problem from two sides - buyer and seller - doing it the same way - is on a collision course. Until that gets fixed, not sure the HPBX market looks much different in a year or two.


*TCO = total cost of ownership which is a calculation of how much it costs to own something like a PBX or server or its cloud replacement. ROI = return on investment.

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