My buddy Jason Rumsey, who works in the waste business in Philadelphia, called the other day. He wanted to know what I thought about a voice over IP system for his small business. Their current PBX had not bitten the dust, but the one and only technician who could maintain it was retiring to spend time with his grand kids, along with his favorable hourly rates.
This question was a no-brainer. The flexibility of a new VoIP system would allow them to meld their office lines and mobile phones, pick up messages anywhere, and even easily move their business without the hassle of transferring numbers. Additionally, upgrading from that no-name PBX system with spare parts available only on eBay left them little choice but to buy something that was IP-enabled, since TDM PBX’s are now an endangered breed.
So why is it that some businesses have been slower to abandon the old systems? The reasons usually fall under the following categories:
1. Parts, labor, and companies willing to service sell and maintain both network and equipment for TDM still exist
There is too much revenue at stake to walk away from servicing large customer TDM environments. Even carriers are loath to force these businesses to accept SIP trunking because they want to keep them as a reference client.
2. There is no ROI
Despite equipment manufacturers providing an upgradable chassis and offering to keep the old handsets on a VoIP system, there is still a cost to making any upgrade and any decrease in the cost of long distance calling will probably be tiny for these large customers who command VoIP-competitive pricing today for TDM. Meanwhile, carriers have updated their internal networks to IP and the cost for TDM telecom network is relatively on par with SIP.
3. PBX is not a going-forward strategy
This one comes from my colleague in AT&T Consulting, Rich Wall. Whether the application is corporate internal communication or a call center, the future is mobile applications, chat, and visual IVR’s for contact center. No matter how you look at it, mobility has to be integrated into the decision. Unified communications (UC) to the mobile device is the desired end-state. An investment in PBX infrastructure does not support that on its own.
In order to justify voice transformation, the key is to think like my friend’s small business in three ways:
1. Efficiency matters
What is the value of being able to move a call center easily between two geographies? Or being able to enable more home workers? What is the value of getting the best resource on the line with a customer the first time by launching an IP call from an intelligent IVR off a mobile device application?
2. Enable the future now
Use cloud services to transcribe calls and make them available to a user anywhere. Move from a video call to a voice call as an executive walks out of his office on his way to a meeting across town. Make yourself available to the right people under any circumstances by melding text, speech, and video.
3. TDM: The end is near! (We mean it this time.)
I saw this slogan paraphrased in an article about VoIP from 2002! Ten years later the industry is still saying the same thing. The difference now is that TDM equipment has been largely out of production since the original warnings.