Technological adoption doesn’t always progress quite as quickly as it should. Even when there’s a superior solution on the market it’s often up for grabs how long, exactly, it’ll take for users to transition from their old, increasingly inferior technology to more current, superior options. This is as true in the PBX market as it is in any other technology-focused market, and it occurs for pretty much the same reasons.
Habits and Technological Progress
Some of these reasons are habit-driven. People get used to using a certain system. If that system works well enough then they don’t see the reason to change. This is an understandable position. It’s difficult to really understand the benefit of a new system until you actually use that new system and experience it’s benefits first hand. It’s the old problem Henry Ford ran into with the Model T. When he asked customers what they wanted from their transportation they didn’t say they wanted an automobile- they said they wanted a faster horse. Yet here we are with a whole lot of people driving automobiles and very few people riding horses. It may be difficult to adopt a new system if you think your old system is working well enough, but it’s downright impossible to go back to an old system once you’ve taken the plunge into its replacement. Retention data shows this is as much the case with businesses that switch from traditional PBX to hosted PBX as it was with people who hopped off their horses and grabbed a steering wheel for the first time.
Economics and Technological Progress
Of course technological progress also gets stalled for economic reasons. Even when a new technology will save you money or enable you to expand your business and make more money, that technology often requires an upfront investment, and people feel skittish about making an investment in a technology they already feel uncertain about, especially during uncertain economic times. Seeing as we’ve been through some difficult economic times over the last four years, and seeing as many businesses still don’t feel too sure of their financial footing, it’s understandable why some people haven’t switched to hosted PBX and IP telephony services just yet.
An Insurance or a Half-Step?
What end users sometimes fail to realize is that backwards compatibility sometimes makes little to no sense and its value can be greatly hyped during sales process. Traditional PBX cards, interface modules and software all add to the cost of your communications solution. With IP PBX you don’t have to worry about those costs.
Half-steps can make a lot of sense when you can save money. In the field of IP Telephony we’re still seeing some expansion modules that convert traditional PBX into a hybrid PBX systems. While the traditional PBX market has been falling the hybrid PBX market has been growing right alongside the IP and Hosted PBX market. On the level of habit a hybrid PBX system sounds less intimidating or radical and more familiar seeming than a full hosted PBX, but from an economic perspective the initial investment in a hybrid PBX system may actually run higher than an investment in a full IP PBX solution. Especially if this system is going into a new location which would require a full separate set of telephone wiring in addition to your data wiring.
So, does that mean adopting a hybrid PBX system is a bad idea?
I don’t think so. There isn’t anything particularly wrong with hybrid PBX systems and some businesses will buy into them only to find out that it makes no sense to take advantage of hybrid functionality and end up using it as a straight up IP PBX system.
While the hybrid system may appear more familiar, once you adopt it and start seeing the benefits IP PBX has to offer, you’ll likely find yourself using it as an IP-only system. Investing in a hybrid is probably going to give you backward compatibility you will not need.