Matt Brunk
Matt Brunk has worked in past roles as director of IT for a multisite health care firm; president of Telecomworx,...
Read Full Bio >>

Matt Brunk | May 05, 2017 |


SMB Voice Market Redefined?

SMB Voice Market Redefined? A look at the future of on-premises, open source, and cloud hosted options

A look at the future of on-premises, open source, and cloud hosted options

Some, if not many, of Toshiba's telephony dealers are out of a product line since the company decided to pull out of the North American market, as announced in late March. Still, the IP-PBX lives on for the SMB market in a few other product lines, including open source versions and too many hosted solutions to list.

Here's a sampling:

While the list isn't indicative of what's available, it is indicative of what businesses aren't buying. Why Toshiba dropped North America really doesn't matter so much as what else is to come in the way of companies deciding to pull out or acquire. As I noted in my recent post, "Telecom Still the Place to Be," the acquisition cycle seems to be waning. What else could companies do? Improve. That, as I've said previously, is the most logical thing to do. The other options are to die off or bail-out.

Each of these types of companies has unique traits and hooks that allure customers. For hosted providers, for example, improving customer retention and building out services for existing customers seems key.

Open source is always going to be a thorn of sorts to other channels since software licensing is a key reason that companies deploy cloud services. The desire there is to be able to contract or expand as needed without the commitment that goes into purchasing licenses that they may or may not be used during the product's life cycle. Small business owners get weary of spending on licenses, especially when the spending impacts their profits.

Toshiba's decision to pull out of the telecom market in some ways surprised me and in other ways not. While Toshiba did have a developed channel and knew how to provide incentives for their dealers and customers, it did face difficulties contending in an increasingly fragmented market and cloud disruption.

For the former "big iron" PBX market to morph into the cloud isn't surprising, but can be challenging for the SMB market. How are hosted providers going to reduce costs to customers? Their platforms will consist of open source, otherwise their licensing costs go up when they don't own the solutions they are selling. The risk here is that not all internal development efforts pay off, as well as the consistency of constant change but not consistency of use in the eyes of the customer. Developing platforms tend to invoke more changes to customers that require new behaviors.

Voice quality does matter for some, and for those that think cell phone as an alternative solution, their hosted services may never be cheap enough.

The SMB market is still too crowded, and there seems to be a disconnect in what companies really need to gain a competitive edge when it comes to selecting and using a telephone system of any type. Presence isn't always relative to smaller firms, and a plethora of UC features doesn't offer a guarantee to open doors and checkbooks to those contemplating change.

In the next cycle of change, it'll be interesting to see if more companies move over to hosted solutions if bandwidth prices continue to drop. Growth may gain hosted providers an edge by taking on more subscriptions, but other than licensing and bandwidth costs how will they do it cheaper than premises gear? There really isn't clarity in either model, since businesses differ on what they base their purchases on, from specific needs to broader requirements. One thing is for certain and that is one size doesn't fit all, and buyers like to have choices.

When I worked for a wiser and older boss, he often told me that this business is akin to a shell game of things getting moved around. Disruption has occurred, but where is it leading the SMB? They have more choices, but a lack of differentiators that's leading to the PBX being put to bed. Are we headed for another Centrex (hosted) vs. premises (PBX) battle? Or will the on-premises PBX function die a slow death and evolve into another application sitting on a server in some software package?

Follow Matt Brunk on Twitter!


Check out this recap of Enterprise Connect Orlando 2017, and register now to join us in 2018 and save $200 off or get a Free Expo Plus Pass.

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!

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

January 24, 2018

Communications, collaboration, and contact center systems are all being delivered from the cloud, to more enterprises each year. With the cloud growing in strategic importance, the question is what

February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
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.