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Commentary
9/10/2008
11:27 AM
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Paging Small and Medium Businesses

As the market for unified communications systems continues to evolve, some traditional voice features are being ignored. Paging is one function that has been on the backburner of many unified communications suppliers product development checklists. However, one supplier has added that functionality to differentiate its system.

As the market for unified communications systems continues to evolve, some traditional voice features are being ignored. Paging is one function that has been on the backburner of many unified communications suppliers product development checklists. However, one supplier has added that functionality to differentiate its system.Objectworld Communications Corp. now offers customers add on paging functions with its Objectworld Unified Communication Server software. The new feature supports simple live paging, record and review paging, and pre-recorded pages that can be played over phone sets or overhead speakers. In addition, users can create and then play a variety of pre-recorded announcements, which can be heard in one or more paging zones. These notices can be automatically initiated by connecting the system to ODBC compliant databases.

The vendor is a relatively small player in the unified communications market: the company has about 450 customers. Unlike traditional suppliers, the vendor has focused on delivering software, rather than hardware, based unified communications solutions. As vendors have moved away from proprietary devices to standards based systems, voice network equipment has become commoditized. Objectworld does not want to become caught up in that transformation. The company has focused on the small and medium sector of the market, touting solutions that are less expensive than those from the traditional UC vendors, such as Avaya, Cisco, and Microsoft. The new paging features are geared to vertical industries, such as education, retail, and manufacturing.

Objectworld has carved out a small but viable niche in the highly competitive unified communications market. Long term, the company will have to become bigger to be successful, but that may be a challenge. It may have trouble displaying many of the entrenched vendors for a couple of reasons. Unlike data equipment, voice systems have long life cycles: many firms keep their voice systems for seven to ten years. So, displacing entrenched competitors will be difficult. Also, its small size will make it difficult for its voice to be heard in a market generating a lot of noise. Questions about the companys long term viability may scare off some potential customers. Objectworld has done a good job in identifying a feature, paging, that certain small and medium businesses need, but the company will have to find other differentiating features to be successful in the highly competitive unified communications marketplace.

Does your company have a unified communications system? If not, what would a vendor have to do to entice you to buy one? Does your business need paging features?

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