Does the road to small business technology sales now go through a phone system upgrade? I've talked to several companies selling products, and resellers leveraging Voice over Internet Protocol system sales into general networking sales and management services lately. All point the same way direction: the way to a small business owner's heart, or at least checkbook, is through a phone system upgrade.
In the world of hardware, I reviewed a new all-in-one server from Sutus reviewed here for Network World back in May. Their claim to fame was the integration of new phone technology into a file server. They added a bit of extra collaboration bling on the server, but not enough in my mind to make it really compelling. However, the inclusion of telephone support means companies upgrade from a PBX and get a file server thrown in for free.
One reseller explained the probable cause of this trend. When you sell most technology, the technology people make the decision, and try to convince management (usually the owner) into buying what you're selling. But a phone system is something everybody consciously uses every day. The owner uses the phone, and knows that customers bringing more business call on the phone. Technology buys appeal to the brain and logical side, but phones carry an emotional appeal file servers may never achieve.
When you're ready to upgrade your phone, throw your network guys a bone and upgrade the network at the same time. The improvements will also help your new phone system work better.