The Evolution of the Business Phone System into a UC Platform

Last week, I described the basic architecture of a PBX system. But these systems have evolved into Unified Communication systems that handle more than voice – they handle messaging, texting, chat, video and others. This is where most business phone systems are today.

But how did they evolve so quickly? The basic architecture stays the same, so if you have a good architecture upon which to build, features can be added quickly. When doing an instant message for example, there still needs to be a database of users and rules that go with it, there needs to a message broker between the two people involved, and there needs to be trunks and an end user device. The basic architecture is there – just the type of media involved changes. The UC system simply had to handle different media beyond voice. The convergence of voice with IT (VoIP) proved to be monumental since voice became just a type of media- just another type of data to be moved. And once that happened, other media could be moved with the same constructs as voice. Hence, UC implementations became de rigeur.

Messaging via chat, or playback of a voice or video mail on your email are everyday examples of such communications in the office beyond a simple voice call. Different devices could be enabled for different kinds of interaction beyond voice, adding text, chat, and video for example.

The advances in the networks and the ability for applications to utilize these advances in network technology also played a huge role in enabling the PBX to evolve to truly become “Unified Communications”. Once such network was the emergence of 3G and 4G, which ushered in the world of mobile enterprise applications. Your office becomes mobile, because you have office apps such as your office phone, your instant messaging system, etc. on your smartphone or your laptop or tablet. Effectively, your offices move to wherever you are. And many of us reading this blog have experienced that.

But what is next? Next week I’ll explore some ideas.

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