Research from In-Stat raises an important point, in addition to providing interesting numbers on the growth of Internet protocol-based public branch exchanges (IP PBXes). The firm says that the growth of the devices will be driven, at least to some extent, by the fact that they are called on to perform more tasks than legacy PBXes.
In a traditional telephone setup, the PBX essentially handles voice. In-Stat says IP PBXes do far more than that. They are the linchpins of e-mail, instant messaging, video conferencing and anything else that users throw at them. They are facilitators of unified services, following users wherever they go and delivering messages in whatever format (e-mail, IM, voice, etc.) is desired.
The fact that the telecommunications and IT worlds have essentially settled on IP as the networking protocol means that applications can be added or subtracted at will.
The merging of delivery networks enables the integration of underlying hardware and software. This is evident in the System i line of servers from IBM and 3Com that was introduced last month. The idea is to consolidate functions usually carried in two or three servers into one device. Another example is that an IP PBX now can be loaded onto an iPod. That sounds like a joke, but it's true.
This obviously is a new world, and IT departments and financial executives will have to deal with the best way to roll out services. The value proposition, return on investment (ROI) and other features clearly are different when all applications, and not just voice, are in play.