Tom Brannen
Tom Brannen is the President of Wassaw Consulting LLC, an independent consulting firm based in Atlanta. With 20 years of...
Read Full Bio >>

Tom Brannen | October 01, 2014 |


PBX Replacement Plan 2.0

PBX Replacement Plan 2.0 It’s time to dust off that old PBX replacement plan. And throw it away.

It’s time to dust off that old PBX replacement plan. And throw it away.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Ah, the sound of your "good ole" PBX humming away over in the phone room. You never intended to keep it for 20 years, but the blasted thing just won't die. You are fond of saying "It takes a lickin and keeps on tickin!" It is bulletproof after all. Or is it? Maybe that ticking is something else.

I admire you. You resisted the hype. You didn't buy into the sometimes-false premises and promises of VoIP, convergence, and unified messaging in the early years. Your system is paid for and provides users with exactly what they asked for--reliable dial tone.

Sure, you were tempted over the years, but the compelling case was never really there to make the large investment for system replacement. And even if you wanted to, your executives didn't see the need to approve your budget request year after year. And then the financial crisis hit and your company went into survival mode, where replacing the phone system was the last thing on anyone's mind.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

At some point, perhaps now, the realization that all good PBXs must come to an end sometime will begin to sink in. Support is getting harder and harder to procure, as the industry is ending-of-life an entire era of technology. There is also the interesting trend of users and departments actually beginning to ask for things your PBX can't do or are no longer being supported. (It may even be coming from the well-meaning folks that have been denying your budget requests all these years.)

So it is time to take out that old PBX replacement plan, dust if off, and put it into action.

Let's stop right there.

You can dust it off, but only as a courtesy to the folks that empty the recycling bin. Yesterday's replacement plan is no longer valid. Too much has changed over the last 5 years. While the changes are numerous, for the sake of brevity I shall pick 2 "megatrends" that need to be considered at the outset of developing your PBX Replacement Plan 2.0.

1. The industry is radically different.
Call me "Captain Obvious," but we sometimes see the world changing but don't change our perspective or take action to respond to the change. Sometimes we do this because we are overly cautious, which often serves us well in this crazy industry. Other times we do this because we simply don't like change. Or perhaps more often, we don't like the particular changes we are seeing.

This used to be a fairly stable and predictable industry with a tested and defined process for making changes. Neither is true anymore. There are realities that must be addressed before even beginning to think about a PBX replacement.

The Cloud is for real and here to stay. We may be calling it something else in 5 years, but the concept is taking off and will dominate the industry. And while it has its own share of hype, it will continue to dominate because it is mostly a consumer-driven shift as opposed to an industry-designed shift like we have seen in the past. In fact, the transition to the cloud could be detrimental to nearly all of the traditional players in our industry if they are not successful in making the transition. But that's another post.

In addition to taking a serious look at Cloud providers, one should also seriously consider folks like Microsoft as a potential option, whereas you might have been hesitant in the past. The combination of product maturity and increased market share has made Microsoft a top tier possibility as they continue to expand their reach in the industry.

The key takeaway here it that these decisions are often hard to hash out during the RFP process. Some serious conversation needs to take place BEFORE the RFP process to define the direction that makes the most sense for the overall business. The old way of hashing decisions out in the RFP evaluation breaks down when you start looking at premise, cloud, and pure software solutions.

2. Your user requirements have changed
There came a day, or will come a day very soon, when the light goes on in the executive suite and people realize that communications technology can be leveraged to help meet business objectives. (I know, that seems like a no-brainer to us, but it can be less obvious to folks who haven't been concentrating on this arena like we have.) And it may come from the same folks that have said all along that all they need is a phone with dial-tone.

Again, the reasons for this are numerous, be they driven from marketing, the consumer focus of folks like Apple, or the influence of a younger generation of customers or employees. The point is, things have changed and this perpetually back-burnered project will now become a high priority rather quickly.

So scrap your old plan and your old notions of what the "new system" should be. Get out a clean fresh legal pad and start from the beginning. As always, invest in time with users to find out what they need today and where they want to move. Then consider the changes in technology and the marketplace.

The good news is you have skipped entire generations of "solutions" that were, well, worth skipping (to be polite). But users are expecting more, and that old PBX just isn't able to handle the increase of demands.

Tick. Tick. Tick. You may hear it as a precision instrument doing its thing. Or it may sound like a bomb is getting ready to explode. Either way it will be a bad day when the ticking stops.

The Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC) is an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.