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2009: Looking Back at the Future of IP Telephony

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Of all of my years in the industry, few have been as interesting as 2009 when it comes to major shifts in the unified communications (UC) landscape.

The global recession drove much of the change this year, but that wasn’t the only contributing factor. There’s also a continuing industry-wide technology shift underway. Most are familiar with organizations moving from TDM to IP-based systems, but in the last year customers are looking for more than a new IP telephony system, opting for a modern UC solution.

Not that many years ago, many industry experts were questioning whether this IP telephony thing would ever take off. Well, the transition from TDM to IP is no longer a topic for debate. The question “if” has now become “when.” One Gartner study has projected that 77 percent of all enterprise line shipments will be IP-based by 2012.

This is perhaps one of the reasons we witnessed the once mighty Nortel crumble and be sold piecemeal to the highest bidders.

Another key factor driving the shift is the growing importance of UC to the business world.

This is why businesses should and do care about UC. The ability to manage all communications—IM, video, email, telephony interface, unified messaging, collaboration and more—from a single client is key to boosting productivity, increasing efficiency and improving customer service. In addition to controlling multiple communication methods, a full-featured UC system provides these capabilities to the end user regardless of their location; at their desk in the office, working from home or traveling worldwide.

At the same time, large enterprises and SMBs alike are dealing with cost pressures and limited staff resources. Never before has it been so important to maintain and even enhance communications capabilities on a tight budget. They also have to ensure that any new network elements are easily integrated with existing equipment and business processes to leverage current investments.

Simplicity is the key to solving this complex problem.

Organizations are turning to IP-based UC solutions that are flexible, easy-to-use and easy-to-manage. Brilliant simplicity and low total cost of ownership are fueling momentum in the UC market.

In 2009, ShoreTel proved it can deliver on that promise. That’s just one reason we’ve continued our strong growth despite the downturn. Here are some other reasons why we achieved revenue growth of 5 percent in fiscal 2009 when the IP telephony market was down approximately 25 percent:

For more of ShoreTel’s 2009 highlights, check out the latest ShoreTel newsletter.