Mark Shane, sales manager at ICON the distributor of Wave IP and TalkSwitch says there is still a slow inexorable move towards IP in the 25-50 user PBX market and there seems to be more awareness in the end user market of VoIP but people are calling in looking firstly for a feature rich business telephone system and then for a VoIP compatible solution.
“Fortunately, in the 25-50 user space our Channel Partners have a strong offering in the form of TalkSwitch and Vertical Wave. Vertical Wave offers an out of the box solution which includes a comprehensive range of integrated applications including call recording. If call recording is not required then TalkSwitch may be a better solution for the end user.
As in the other niches the trend is for a more and more sophisticated telephone solution at a value price and we don’t see that changing – ever. The feedback we are getting from the channel is that what matters in this market is the price point, the feature set and the capability to outperform comparably priced solutions. Get that right and you have a winner.
What we are seeing in this market is a trend by vendors such as TalkSwitch and Vertical to deliver an out of the box solution with all features as standard. Many small business solutions do not deliver a true fully featured out of the box solution. Often additional add in cards need to be purchased to get the features and performance the small business wants.
Manufactures are also building products which offer flexibility for expansion if this is required. For example the Wave business communications solution from Vertical has the capability of being expanded from a 10 handset (or less) solution up to a 350 user solution. Similarly the TalkSwitch small business solution can be expanded from entry level solution supporting up to 16 handsets to a 64 handset telephone system.
For ICON the 25-50 user segment is a healthy and profitable niche. Since the start of the year demand from this segment has held up well. ICON has not seen the fall in sales experienced in some segments of the market and demand for its TalkSwitch and Wave solutions has held up well. These products seem to have some resistance to the downturn. This maybe because these solutions are seen by the small business as a key tool for increasing profits and business and decisions to buy are more considered and less influenced by external events. In general in the longer term we expect to see demand in this market pick up so that by the end of the year the market will have recovered to its previous level.
IP is slowly making headway in the market but not as fast as some pundits would claim it is.
For internal communications more installations are IP now than they were a year ago but IP is still not the dominant technology. Although the overall trend does show a slow long term drift towards IP in ICON’s experience the number of IP handsets and the number of digital handsets sold is comparable. How much this trend is driven by customer preference for IP or by the preference of the Channel Partner to install and support an IP solution is hard to tell. With Wave IP the end user is not penalised for choosing a non IP solution as no matter which option is chosen the IP version or the non IP version end users enjoy the same benefits and functionality.
In the case of the external trunks ISDN is still king but many resellers are beginning to look more seriously at reselling IP trunks with the Wave IP and TalkSwitch solutions. ICON already offers a service to its channel partners where it will arrange an IP trunk for their customer if the dealer requests this.
Users are now more savvy about what they want as standard from a telephone system and many are calling in wanting to know what solutions come with out of the box features such as auto-attendant, music on hold and voice mail. We always arrange for one of our TalkSwitch or Vertical Wave Channel Partners to call the customer after we have talked through their requirements answered their most pressing enquires. Fortunately, in the 25-50 user space our Channel Partners have a strong offering in the form of TalkSwitch and Vertical Wave. Vertical Wave offers an out of the box solution which includes a comprehensive range of integrated applications including call recording. If call recording is not required then TalkSwitch may be a better solution for the end