Dial tone over IP

Something just dawned on me. I’ve been working with business VoIP phone systems for 13 years (since 1998 when 3Com bought NBX) and I’ve been dumb.

When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone he invented the concept on dial tone. This was in the late 1800′s. When IP PBX systems from 3Com and Cisco because available in 1998, they allowed dial tone to be delivered over the same network as data but this was not convergence – it was just dial tone over IP. So what! Big deal! OK it may have saved a buck or two but really in toll bypass – what value did it really deliver to business. I just still got dial tone except now it was on a grey phone instead of on a beige phone.

The value of unified communications is not dial tone. Spending half a million dollars to replace an old PBX with an IP version may save a few bucks (and sometimes it didn’t) but how many IP PBX projects actually drove true business efficiency. True productivity and efficiency gains? In truth, not many did.

Dial tone (phone calls) is just an application. Unified Messaging is just an application. It is not until I can drive productivity that they make a difference. The core difference in true UC is presence – presence everywhere! Not just glorified busy lamp fields on PBX handsets but real presence. The option to get to the right person more quickly, irrespective of where they are or whether I actually know who they are nor not.  That drives efficiency.

Unified Communications is NOT VoIP and is NO IP PBX. True Unified Communications IS Unified Business Productivity and the only solution available today that does that is Microsoft Lync. Yes I’m a bigot for Lync – but now I finally understand why it made so much sense!