Clouds, Hammers, Nails and the Vitality of the PBX Market

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The demise of the PBX has been well documented for some time now yet the debate is often skewed by self interest or just whoever manages to shout the loudest. Here, Will Morey, Sales and Marketing Director at Pragma, spoke to Comms Business about the future of the PBX and why we may not be heading straight to the cloud.

Comms Business (CB): When it comes to cloud vs on-premise is it all just smoke and mirrors?

Will Morey (WM): In the early stage of a product, when PR departments and sales teams are driving the hype, a typical strategy is to try and create a very polarised debate and frame a question as either/or. The reality that we have seen in the market over countless technology shifts is much more subtle and usually  about both/and.

It is obvious why some channel providers want to paint doom and gloom and tell us the PBX is dead and cloud is the ONLY solution to a customers needs. Many service providers are in a position where they have invested significant sums in a cloud solution and do not have the luxury of a range of solutions. It’s not surprising that when you only have a hammer in your toolkit every problem looks like a nail.

CB: How should partners be reacting to this changing landscape?

WM: When I talk to our partners they tell me that the reason they win customers is because they listen. They listen to what the customer needs. They listen to what the customer is trying to achieve. They listen to what challenges the customer is facing. After they have listened and worked hard to really understand their customer they then design a technology solution that helps their customer compete and win in their chosen market or sector. This design stage isn’t usually based on some dogmatic technology bias to cloud or on premise or anything else. It’s based on designing the very best technology they can to meet that customer’s needs. That technology solution typically comprises multiple vendors for hardware, software and network.

The reseller brings real skill and capability to each and every customer and that’s why the majority of the SMB and mid-market technology spend in the UK still runs through the channel. The process of listening and then translating the business need into a technology solution is a major part of the value the reseller adds. Small and mid market businesses trust their reseller to deliver the right solution at the right price.

CB: What trends are you seeing in the market right now?

WM: The idea that hosted is the only way and that the PBX is dead just doesn’t stack up with the trend we are seeing in the market at the moment. We have seen the demand for Ericsson-LG iPECS increase significantly in the last year and have seen our business and that of our resellers grow and develop. iPECS is a UC technology platform that supports small, mid-market and enterprise customers with communications devices, applications and platforms. The fact that Ericsson-LG can deliver a breadth of technology solutions across multiple technology areas means we can address the whole market.  We can build innovative and creative solutions for our customers with building blocks across iPECS hardware, software, network connectivity and integrations into Microsoft Lync and multiple software vendors. At the same time we have also seen the demand for cloud increase as well and that fits perfectly with our own cloud strategy.

CB: So what are Ericsson-LG doing about the cloud “revolution”?

WM: Ericsson-LG has developed a cloud strategy that helps its customers to evolve their telephony infrastructure to meet their needs rather than rip and replace. Almost all technology shifts have been far more about evolution than revolution and the shift to cloud looks like it will be the same.

CB: Are we looking at a hybrid future then?

WM: The view from Pragma is it is not about either cloud or on-premise but much more about delivering an integrated technology approach using the very best of both cloud, on-premise and whatever other technologies it takes to help your customer win.