Time for a Phone Swap?
Many small and medium-size companies are not ready to swap out their old telephone system and replace it with a Zultys IP system, he notes. Most hang on to a system for about eight years. But many do have a need to expand their phone system internally or to remote offices and users.
They can do it with an MX250 at minimal cost and extend head-office features such as voice mail, call hold, forward and so on that older phone systems designed for small offices could not provide.
By connecting the MX250 to an existing system at the main office, they can route incoming or outgoing calls over a long distance IP link or even the public Internet to the remote location. At the branch office, all they need is an IP phone such as one of the Zultys Zip models and a VPN appliance that encrypts voice data from end to end to prevent Internet hackers intercepting it.
"This is very compelling to an organization that is geographically focused in Oregon, but would like to do some market expansion into say Idaho," Still says.
There is also a powerful return on investment case for companies that already have several remote offices each with its own receptionist/operator. All calls can now come through the main office where an operator routes them through the MX250 to the remote locations as if to a local extension.
"By reducing the number of operators at remote locations assuming that a person doing that job will cost $30,000 to $40,000 a year you can almost pay for the system within 12 months," Still says.
He insists that even over the public Internet, which is subject to congestion and slow-downs that can impair voice connections, the quality of the link is good enough for most businesses for transmitting IP voice calls.
They can even use the MX250 to connect remote mobile employees equipped with "soft phones," software such as Microsoft's NetMeeting that turns a laptop equipped with a telephone headset into an IP telephone.
Milne concedes that small companies won't buy an MX250-based system just because it's "cool" technology, but there are clear returns on an investment with IP telephony, he insists.
Toll bypass and phone system consolidation are two already mentioned. In the longer term, IP phone systems are also easier and therefore less expensive to manage.
Using the system's intuitive browser-like interface, a small business IT person or even a non-IT professional can easily do adds, moves and changes, set up voice mail and program ACD and auto attendants. That eliminates the need to call in an outside phone system technician, and saves money.
"If we can demonstrate that there are real productivity improvements, that this is not just a black box, then people are going to be willing to pay for it," Milne says.
He is confident the small business market, which he guesstimates at "several billion" dollars worldwide in 2003, will switch in fairly quick order to IP. Zultys believes Sixty percent of phone system shipments will be IP based by 2004, he says, and in 5 years time it will be 99 percent.
"There is no denying that it's coming," Milne says. "The advantages are just too overwhelming and we feel we have a three-year head start on our competitors."
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