2005 & All That

Maren Bennette
2005 & All That

To quote Mahatma Gandhi – “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” He of course was speaking of India’s struggle for independence whereas I refer to IP communications, which though nowhere near as world shaking certainly occupies the minds of most readers of this magazine. To my mind, 2005 was the year the technology “crossed the chasm” as Geoffrey Moore would say.

To confirm my thoughts I took the time to talk with some of the industry’s key people and all agreed that on a macro level there were a number of major indicators of IP communications acceptance. At the forefront was BT’s £10 billion commitment to their 21st Century Network which, by 2010 will carry 80% of all voice and data traffic in thiscountry. David Dyer, Marketing Manager at Siemens Communications; Jonathan

Smith, VP of Ericsson Enterprise and Ian Sherring, IP Communications Business Development Manager at Cisco Systems all identified BT’s ‘big bet’ as the most important announcement of the year, as did I.

Other industry luminaries I spoke with such as Graham Bevington, MD of Mitel Europe; Peter Tebbutt, Marketing Director at Alcatel and Robin Hayman of SpliceCom cited E-Bay’s $2.6 billion purchase of Skype as proof positive of the inroads that internet telephony has made in everyday life. The launch of Microsoft’s Communicator client and Live Communications Server was identified by Bruce Everest, Convergence Business Development Manager at Avaya and long-time industry observer Bob Emmerson as the defining event of the year. Bob reckons that Microsoft has been the “sleeping giant” of the industry, but says “alarm clocks have been going off in Redmond”. More on this in a special report next year.

The large number of industry-shaping deals closed in the last 12 months are another sign that IP communications has reached the “tipping point”, defined in Malcolm Gladwell’s book of the same name as ‘The moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling-point, a place where the unexpected becomes expected, where radical change is more than possibility. It is a certainty’. David Dyer at Siemens cited their deal with Global Crossing for the Office of Government Commerce where 110,000 managed IP phones are being installed. Ian Sherring at Cisco Systems was particularly proud of the 70,000 IP phone order from Lloyds TSB – rightly so, given it is the largest pure IP communications contract in Europe this year.

Just as sweet for Mitel is the win at Auchan, a French retail conglomerate with 200 stores, where 30,000 IP phones are to be deployed. Staying with the ‘French Connection’ a while longer, Alcatel is delighted with their OmniPCX Enterprise and IP Media Gateway win at Thomas Cook which will link the company’s 600 stores and three call centres with the headquarters in Peterborough. Helping to run the trains on time will hopefully be the result of a deal for 130 IPenabled PABXs worth ‘eight figures’ that Ericsson Enterprise has closed with Global Crossing for the Train Operating Companies. On the contact centre front, Bruce Everest at Avaya put the 14 site, 2500 agent IP Contact Centre win at AOL at the top of his list. Proving that size doesn’t always matter, Robin Hayman waxed lyrical of SpliceCom’s penetration of the automotive market at household names such as Bristol Street Motors and Camden Motors.

Swyx’s UK MD Andy Bills was just as chuffed with the 60,000 IP end points that the German manufacturer has shipped. On the channel front, Nathan Marke at Prime Business Solutions is pleased that the ‘world’s favourite airline’ chose his company as the systems integrator for the new Cisco IP communications system for Heathrow’s Terminals 4 and 5, as well as the British Airways headquarters at Waterside.

Market statistics also confirm the rise and rise of IP communications in 2005. Cisco’s number one position in all enterprise telephony end-point shipments (including TDM and hybrid) in MZA’s Q2 2005 UK market report is for me a statistic worthy of note because it is the first time ever that a pure IP telephony vendor has taken the no 1 slot for total end-point shipments in the UK. I am sure Alcatel is equally proud of their number 1 position for all telephony sales in EMEA as reported by Canalys for the same quarter.

Graham Bevington was pleased with Synergy Research Group’s report showing Mitel with a market-leading 46% growth year over year. He also mentioned that IP communications shipments now account for 95% of the company’s total revenues, a complete volte-face from just 5 years ago when PABXs were king. Avaya also pointed out that this year they reached the ‘inflection point’ at which they now ship more IP lines than TDM lines.

So there you have it. 2005 was without doubt the year that IP communications came of age. 2006 will be an even more fascinating year for the industry. I am looking forward to it and I hope you are too. Have a happy Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.

Maren Bennette: maren@cbmagazine.co.uk

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