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The brave new world of VoIP

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Enterprise telephony market research reveals that Internet Protocol-enabled PBXs are now out-selling analogue PBXs by a factor of five to one.
The BMI-T report on the South African PBX and emerging voice technologies market, released in June 2015, confirms that the CBX/IPT has gained 84% of the revenue share of the total PBX market in 2014, referring to systems solutions only.
“South Africa has entered a brave new era of Voice over IP, which requires brand-new organisational skills and lines of responsibility,” notes Dave Meintjes, MD of cloud-based PBX provider, Connection Telecom.
Meintjes says, as VoIP became a dominant purchase in organisations, many forward-thinking organisations have re-jigged their telephony capability dramatically and without delay.
“They wasted no time in becoming conversant with network-based requirements for voice, delegating this function to its natural home – network administration,” he says. “This is good, as it keeps up with evolution.”
Organisations that have not allocated ownership to the network administration end up in a state of limbo, he says. “Finance or even HR continues to be responsible for telephony, even though they don’t actually know how the network operates. This obviously affects performance and return on investment, or even discourages companies from a VoIP upgrade altogether.”
This is understandable, he says. “It is not an easy evolution.”
The market’s current transitional phase, where most new PBXs are IP-enabled, compounds the complexity. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t go away by hiding from it.
“You now have a mixed footprint of analogue premise-based PBXs, hybrid switches and full cloud-based IP PBXs. So with a premise-based PBX you now need a SIP trunk to terminate your voice calls to other parties. With a legacy PBX you still need to connect to legacy Telkom infrastructure. Going to the cloud actually provides a way out of this complicated legacy – the only future-proof way of doing so – and it saves you money,” Meintjes says.
“If you let yourself be locked into a legacy environment with anything short of a full hosted IP environment, your SIP trunks cannot economically reach all your sites, and you cannot properly embrace new age communications. We see that a lot,” he says.
The above scenario is quite prevalent in large organisations. “The guys running a converged communication service over multiple links to multiple sites have the biggest challenge,” Meintjes says.
“They have to deal with class-of-service issues impacting quality, scale issues including standards, supportability of multiple instances of PBXs and suppliers, and readiness of the network to carry multiple services including voice, a VPN service and Internet connection to the VoIP partner.”
Small and medium-sized organisations lag even further,” says Meintjes. “Complexity is a particularly pressing issue here, so inertia is hurting them too.”
As a result, companies often miss out on the numerous benefits of VoIP, including the ability to scale quickly and cost effectively in bandwidth and branch locations; easily activate or cancel network services or seats; powerful management functions; detailed reporting and much more.
“From the provider’s point of view, a misaligned organisational structure makes it difficult to get buy-in from the organisation in the first place, and even when they succeed, they’ll find it difficult to service the customer efficiently,” he adds.
But even in the worst cases of stagnation, where an organisation can’t see its way out of the skills deficit and organisational misalignment, all is not lost.
“The best thing to do is to partner with a VoIP partner with credentials in cost-effective implementation of enterprise voice networks,” says Meintjes.
“Organisations need to know that they are not tied to a motley legacy – there are companies out there that can take their existing network, and for the same cost as a hybrid service can give them twice the network capacity and service assurance, with a service that is future proof.”