The PBX shift to Unified Comms – the features just keep coming

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The one constant that we’ve learned at Windsor Telecom is that nothing is constant. The IT and Comms market continues to progress at pace. In particular, the development and expansion of the Unified Communications and Contact Centre space.

In a short space of time we’ve seen the drive from on-premises phone systems to cloud-based voice services, all the way through to collaboration and multi-media comms, with Microsoft and other collaboration tools driving this segment of the voice market. The shift from on-prem to cloud was initially considered a complex decision-making process with resilience, features and costs all part of that decision making triangle. But, as cloud services have developed in scale and complexity, so has the customer decision making process. Although it continues to be a complex market with customers continuing to move from on-prem services into the cloud, we’re also now seeing a large proportion of the earlier adopter customers move from 1st generation cloud PBX services into Unified Communications services. And this is where is starts to get interesting.

1st generation PBX services are primarily made up of voice only services and no applications. Although they matched the on-prem PBXs well and did well in the early market, unless they’ve now evolved into unified comms providers, they’ll be seeing their market share dwindling with customers looking for a richer experience than a desk phone with some dial tone capability.

Business woman having a video call with coworker

Looking to what businesses need today it’s clear to see that COVID had many impacts, with two very tangible ones being working patterns and locations. The typical user image of someone sitting at a desk in an office with a phone has been thrown out the window. Most of us are now working from home for at least part of the working week which has driven the need for Mobile and Desktop apps to facilitate ‘business as usual’ communications. The 1st generation PBXs fall by the wayside in this scenario and Unified Comms platforms have taken full advantage. The benefits of apps and soft clients has been evident for all and has made speaking to customers and colleagues simple, regardless of both location and device. As COVID continued and we’d all found a way to make and receive a call on the move, the need for collaboration really kicked in. Microsoft, Google, Zoom and Webex all took advantage and businesses across the world found themselves messaging and collaborating throughout the working day from anywhere and everywhere. This is all very ‘business as usual’ now and considered the minimum standard in the market.

The market continues to be spread across on-prem PBXs, 1st generation cloud PBX services and Unified Communications solutions, there’s now a new wave of functionality being added with Contact Centre features entering these markets. While a specialist contact centre is still a separate overlay service, the PBX/UC platforms have started to nibble away, adding in features such as Queues and IVRs. These once complex offerings are now standard in many PBX/UC systems and alongside this, skills-based routing, chat, WhatsApp are all now very present and available in the UC space. This is good news for the SME businesses – bridging the gap with an affordable UC platform with the in-built contact centre features that they need to run a great customer experience.


So, what do we take from this?

It’s fair to say that the shift over the last couple of years has been huge. Innovation happens at pace, especially for good ideas and where there’s business need, and there’s no doubt it will continue into the years ahead. We should all expect more Contact Centre features in our unified communication platforms, more collaboration functionality in our cloud telephony systems and generally more accessible and affordable solutions that make it easier for us to connect with our customers and colleagues. That can only be good news for everyone.


As always, we want to help you maximise your company’s potential with an easy solution to your telephony needs – if anything in this blog sounds like what you need for your company, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or give us a ring on 0800 160 1111.