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Network services investment guide - Gaynor M.

Gaynor M. Network services investment guide - wiley publishing , 2003. - 322 p.
ISBN 0-471-21475-2
Download (direct link): networkservicesinvestment2003.pdf
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In the beginning of the 80s, AT&T implemented several early VM systems, including a system for residential users and the ECS for businesses [6], but it was thwarted by regulation when the FCC declared VM as an enhanced service under the Computer II decision [7] [8]. Owners of businesses providing manual, non-automated answering services wanted protection from AT&T and got it, or so they believed. Of course, answering services powered by human operators had a limited future because technology provided a better way to perform this function for many users. By the mid-80s, standalone vendors filled the niche AT&T was prohibited from serving because of regulatory constraints. At first, growth was slow. Users did not understand the features this new technology could provide
142 Chapter 9
and how these features could save time and money, thus providing a strategic competitive advantage. As vendors experimented with new features, and as customer expectations evolved, VM became a fast-growing option in PBXs. By 1988, regulations had relaxed [9][10], allowing Centrex to offer VM services, which it did successfully because of the low market uncertainty.
VM services first became successful with end-based architectures; then, as experimentation showed what worked best, PBXs integrated these features into their systems. Next, the most successful VM features migrated into the Centrex feature set when regulations allowed. As expected, Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) VM systems had the most feature-rich systems [10]. PBXs have nearly the same feature sets as standalone units; last, VM service within the network via Centrex meets the needs of many average users, but lacks the cutting-edge features found in more end-based solutions. Users' adoption of VMs matches the theory presented in Part One well distributed architecture is more popular when market uncertainty is high, but when market uncertainty is low, many users migrate to centralized structure.
History of PBXs
In the mid 1970s, everything changed in the voice world; PBX architecture shifted from a purely mechanical, step-by-step design to a programmable architecture called Stored Program Control (SPC) [11]. This new paradigm enabled PBX vendors to experiment with new features as never before, and they did. Along with PBXs came smart phones with features better able to utilize the advanced features offered in PBXs. This shift in technology caused market uncertainty to increase because users and vendors did not understand the possibilities of the new architecture.
By 1980, the digital PBX2 came into being. Pundits believed that this technology would merge voice and data, but it never happened. Instead, it turned out that the best way to provide voice services with the SPC architecture is digital technology. Later, this digital design enabled advanced applications such as VM and computer database integration. The digitization of voice was an incremental advance [12], and an intuitive one at that, because computers handle digital data better than analog signals.
2 A digital PBX converts the analog voice signal into a digital pattern. This came after the SPC architecture, but it was a natural evolution of using computers to control PBXs because computers interact with digital data better than analog signals.
Basic Voice Services 143
In the early 1980s, because it was so easy to create features with the new SPC architecture of the PBX, the number of features offered by vendors exploded; by 1984 most vendors had more than 500 features [13]. Fancy PBX features blew Centrex service out of the water [14] because the advanced abilities of feature-rich PBXs provided a compelling reason to switch. Smart phones took advantage of new PBX features such as displays showing caller ID or time on line, message-waiting lights, and buttons for speed dialing and auto-redial [15]. Some experiments were successful; others were not. For example, the PBX attempt in the early 80s to become the office LAN failed badly because it did not meet user needs. This period of experimentation helped vendors understand users better, causing a decrease in market uncertainty.
By 1986, things settled down in the PBX market. At the low end of the market, the PBX was a commodity [5]; at the high end, advanced features sold systems [5]. The majority of users found their needs met by lower-end PBXs, causing price to become an important factor in vendor selection, indicating lower market uncertainty.
By the early 90s, PBX vendors were troubled; the market was in the doldrums, and for many users the PBX had become a commodity. Low-end KEY (KEY systems are like low-end PBXs) systems and smaller PBXs had advanced features [16][17] and thus met the needs of the average user well. These features included fixed and programmable keys, LCD displays, transfer, conference, hold, last-number redial, speed dialing, message waiting, and even basic ACD and VM functions found in the most advanced PBXs of the early 80s [16]. PBX applications such as VM and ACDs were growing at more than 20 percent per year [18]. Most PBXs worked for most users, as shown by the price-driven market [19]; there has been little innovation over the last few years [20][21]. Systems were very similar [20][22], with features differing little from those developed in the 80s. Most users depend on six or fewer features [23].
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