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The small medium business (SMB) and the IP PBX markets are two markets that are hotly contested these days. 3CX – purveyors of a software based Windows IP PBX for the SMB – sits at the intersection of both of these markets. Who better to discuss the Near Future of VoIP within each of these markets – then the guy leading the SMB IP PBX company?

Nick Galea is that guy. Nick founded 3CX in 2005 and as it’s CEO has grown it to be one of the companies leading the evolution of business phone systems. With experts touting both doom and boom in the coming months for the SMB and IP PBX spaces – lets get some straight talk from a straight shooter who lives and breathes these potentially volitile markets.

Nick, Mobile VoIP was one sector of the industry that really took off in 2008, what sector(s) do you think will take off or see tremendous growth in 2009?

Mobile VoIP is on its early stages. I think that there is still a lot of growth in Mobile VoIP, as well as, the whole VoIP industry. I believe that we will see a continued increase in small to medium sized businesses deploying VoIP to save on call costs, administration costs and to increase productivity.

There has never been a better time to do this.

So who are the VoIP companies serving the SMB to watch over the next six to twelve months? Who will have the hottest products and / or will be releasing the most innovative or game-changing services?

Definitely companies developing pure software-based PBXs. We are in the best position to continue to innovate and deliver new functionality to customers – which is what will drive the move to VoIP. In my opinion, we will see a move to software-based as opposed to appliance-based.

That sound’s a lot like your Windows based IP PBX. What consumer and / or business market segments or verticals are the most attractive for VoIP companies over the next six months to a year?

We see the small to medium businesses market as being the most attractive in the next years. At 3CX, we are also paying special attention to the hotel phone system market.

Do you foresee any sizable shifts in the type of businesses that will be potentially migrating to VoIP in the next six months to a year? Are they the same as this year or will they be different?

We are seeing the uptake of VoIP accelerate across the board. Companies need to save costs and increase productivity, and the adoption of VoIP is a good way to start!

Some feel that the VoIP industry will actually benefit from a recession, since people will be looking for low cost alternatives, while some think the industry will feel pain as many will put off technology and infrastructure improvements until more certain times, what’s your take?

The first few months of the recession did not have any effect on our sales. Clearly, some companies will put off investment decisions, but the recession will not affect competitively priced innovative VoIP products. We believe that the recession will accelerate the need to run phone systems more effectively and to improve productivity of employees through better communications.

It sounds like you are having success in this downturn. That’s great to hear.

Can you offer and advice to companies in the VoIP industry for the next year? What are you doing to make sure that your company continues to grow?

The VoIP revolution is happening and is accelerating. However it is not really possible to forecast the exact rate. My advice to VoIP companies is to invest carefully and in relation to revenue – and be patient.

Speaking of revolutions, with the number of open source telephony platforms continuing to grow each month it seems, will open source telephony continue to grow in importance and prominence during 2009?

The total cost of ownership for open source telephony is much higher compared to closed source solutions. As VoIP moves into mainstream, we are seeing a strong increase of closed source deployments as opposed to open source.

We will be seeing a lot of consolidation in the market. There are literally hundreds of companies re-packaging Asterisk under their own brand; but without having the underlying knowledge of the system. The majority of these will not survive. The VoIP PBX market will consolidate around a much smaller number of companies which own and understand the technology they have, so that they can continue to innovate.

I agree that there are too many players in the open source based space if not the entire IP PBX space. What about another vendor rich space, Unified Communications? Will 2009 finally be the year it sees a big “adoption rate” increase?

Unified communications is just another buzz word. The main driver is VoIP and adoption rate is already increasing and will accelerate during 2009.

Ouch. UC gets another smack. Got anything else to add, Nick?

We will see a strong consolidation trend across the VoIP industry. There will be more price competition, better quality products and only those with the best offer – the strongest – will survive.

Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith is an author, consultant, and marketer with almost 20 years of experience selling and marketing VoIP solutions. Garrett has helped thousands of businesses select the right VoIP system over his career, in addition to helping hundreds of vendors, and dozens of service providers with their go to market strategies. This experience gives him a unique position in industry that allows him to cut through all the noise. Garrett has been named one of the most influential people in the VoIP, and has written over 3,000 articles about VoIP since 2004.

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