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It won't be cloud that kills the PBX sales model

By Sean Mitchell, Fri 26 Jun 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

It seems that change in business these days is inevitable. The problem as a business owner is that you don't want to be the first although it's often said that ‘Fortune favours the brave’.

The business of selling phone systems, or what we in the industry call PBXs, seems like an unchanged model. Some would even call it a prehistoric model.

Sure, the cloud is chipping away at the small businesses who would prefer nothing on their premises and never really used the full functionality of their PBX system. These customers suit a pure cloud 'pay by the line and call' model.

But this isn't the case for large enterprises, government departments or call centres. They need full control, use the advanced features and need seriously reliable systems – not to mention quality of calling.

Well, the folks at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise are taking the advantages of the on-premise solutions and charging for it like it’s a cloud service.

Actually it's a step ahead of how most cloud services charge.

Just to clarify this is the former division of Alcatel-Lucent which sells PBXs, networking, wireless and unified communications software. Last year the division was bought by Chinese manufacturer Huaxin, and has been freed from the shackles of the corporate beast.

They've appointed Steve Saunders as director of cloud services in APAC to head up this cloud transformation. Although – very surprisingly – his team won't be building a private or public cloud.

What they're doing is allowing system integration partners to rent the enterprise-grade PBX equipment in totally new and novel ways.

The example given was a hotel who enters an agreement with their system integrator to only pay for the onsite PBX and handsets when the hotel room is occupied.

In the past, if an integrator was brave enough to try a model like this then they would be left with the huge capital cost of buying the gear up front and hoping their complex pricing calculations work out.

Now Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is going to hold the risk. Meaning if the hotel is only partially occupied then the partner can still make a profit.

Take this model and think laterally. Could schools only pay for gear when the classroom is used? Could seasonal businesses save money in the off season?

Are we seeing a new business model evolve? Or does this become more complicated than the benefits require?

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