Rumble in the telecom Jungle part 2

why the PBX is dead

Matt has posted a very interesting response to  my doom laden assessment of the future of the PBX.

Here I should declare my position, I’m a big fan of  the appliance led approach to telephony, hell it’s were I came from and emotionally I’m a bit of a stick in the mud whilst intellectually I’m a technology radical,  I’d like to see the PBX survive,  the flashing lights of that dedicated box are somehow reassuring but it’s on it’s way.

Having digested  matt’s post I think some of the arguments put forward for retention are perhaps equally arguments for discarding the good old PBX.

Call centres or contact centres are a prime example, all they really are are management information systems, a true contact centre is interested in quality and  nothing else, quality of interaction, quality of the transaction and quality of the management are the key drivers, the PBX plays little part and will be increasingly marginalised as voice becomes just another route in.

The communications hub which will inevitably be a server will accept interaction from whichever source the customer chooses and deliver it to an agent, taking my teenage sisters preferences (and she is the next gen worker and consumer) the source will probably be IM followed by text followed by email followed by voice followed by fax  and the PBX is just a sideshow to that route, any dumb gateway will do.

For call handling the foibles that ad hoc groups want are pretty much impossible to accommodate in the traditional model. as a hypothetical user I want my calls to go to me then to my colleague Melissa then to John our support person then to my voicemail which  is the kind of nightmare PBX engineers are often confronted with, trying to fit that into the prescriptive environment of directory numbers and pilots and groups and trunks is a real mind bender.

Send a call to me and then let me control it with a monitoring core application that stops me setting up a perpetual loop or breaking the system. Systems should be able to tell me that the reason I can’t divert  to Melissa is because she is diverting to me and when we achieve this we’ll liberate users and remove the management headache. Having spent time in the bowels of a few PBXs I long for plain English and I’d much rather let the users administer the process.

As Matt says The little stuff you take away is always a problem but you can always assuage the user by education up front and showing them the benefits of the new system, it’s been ten years since a feature has lost us a sale because everyone knows that the 1500 features that manufacturer X  offers still boils down to the 100 that everyone uses and every manufacturer offers , gone are the days of three pages of proposal devoted to an appendix describing directed call pickup and it’s friends.

Sticking with what you know and have will usually have a benefit but what if your choice is to upgrade your proprietary PBX; add  voice functionality through an application sat on your existing network (maybe the network IS the application) or, and this is a real possibility, the inevitable upgrade you will perform on your email system just happens to provide you with a free enterprise strength telephone system?

Like Matt I believe that unified communications needs a single unified interface whichever  application delivers that successfully is going to be the winner and what if  the application that provides UC is the application that 300m of us use day in day out for most of our messaging…….  

You know I think the death of the traditional PBX is much much closer than any of us might have thought

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