If you'd rather be doing actual work than watching the telephone repairman bent over your PBX trying to install a software upgrade, it might be time to move on up to a self-managing unified communications solution. IBM's new Lotus Foundations Reach system fits the bill. It's an office-in-a-box appliance that fits under your desk, yet delivers flexible call routing, premises-based instant messaging, mobility and other apps to keep employees connected even if they aren't at their desks (because, really, who is anymore?).
14.3 billionAmount worldwide small and midsized businesses will spend on managed services in 2009 (up 9 percent from 2008)
At $100,000, a phone switch is too expensive for small businesses, and the current model of someone coming out every two weeks to upgrade, repair or patch the old PBX has created an adversarial relationship with the market," said Caleb Barlow, director of IBM Lotus Foundations. "We all have a legacy of stripping down larger boxes to serve the small business, and that's not the answer. With unified communications in one small appliance, we're aiming to deliver more than that old PBX for under $3,400."
The approach has small business written all over it: You don't need an IT staff to set it up, you don't need a receptionist to direct calls, and the best part is that you'll never again see (or pay) the PBX man again. --D.O.
Dan O'Shea is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering telecom, mobile and other high-tech topics for nearly 20 years.