Cloud-Based Apps, BYOD Challenge Legacy Phone Systems

IT decision makers report that their on-premise PBXs were not flexible enough to meet the needs of mobile and remote workers.

More companies are showing dissatisfaction with legacy on-premise phone systems or private branch exchanges (PBXs) that are not designed for today's mobility-centric, cloud-based work places, particularly as more attractive options like adopting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and cloud-based applications continue to gain traction, according to a new study.

Seventy percent of IT directors, facility managers and CEOs from businesses using on-premise phone systems find their phone systems lacking, according to the study, which was conducted on behalf of cloud-based business phone systems provider RingCentral by Dimensional Research, an independent research firm. The study is based on an online survey conducted in early April of IT decision makers from 308 businesses of all sizes.

"The old-guard on-premise PBX was designed for the 1980s—an era when all employees came into the office, used desktops, not laptops, and didn't own or carry mobile devices," Curtis Peterson, vice president of operations at RingCentral, a cloud phone system provider, said in a statement. "The way we work and communicate has changed profoundly since then. And the on-premise PBX can't keep technological pace with today's new mobility-centric business needs."

IT decision makers reported that their on-premise PBXs were not flexible enough to meet the needs of mobile and remote workers (22 percent) and integrate with business applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) platforms (23 percent). Nearly a quarter (23 percent) also found these systems difficult to manage and administer as well as too expensive (33 percent).

In addition, 92 percent of these same survey respondents found the benefits of a cloud-based phone system compelling. Top benefits included mobile apps that allow smartphones to be used as business extensions (55 percent), the simple-to-use interfaces for administration (52 percent), the ease of expanding phone systems as the business grows (52 percent), and eliminating set-up and ongoing maintenance for in-house phone systems (45 percent). The reduction in cost was cited by 60 percent of respondents as a top benefit of a cloud-based phone system.

An earlier survey by the company highlighted how much phone behavior has changed since the first handheld cellular telephone call on April 3, 1973. The survey found that at work, mobile phone use continues to rise, with 70 percent of people using mobile phones to communicate for work. More than a third (35 percent) of respondents said they mainly use their mobile phone, not their desk phone, for work, and just under half (47 percent) use their own personal mobile phone for work while 24 percent use a company-issued mobile phone.