From the PSTN to Real-Time Communications: A Quick History of Enterprise Communications

“The fact is, enterprise communications have been in a constant state of change since the introduction of the telegraph in 1837.”

And really, that’s an understatement!

Such rapid changes have been highlighted in  a study completed by Wainhouse Research. We’ve been working with the independent market research firm for the first half of 2017 to gain a deeper understanding on the market dynamic addressed by Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow™, our cloud-based relationship management platform. Rainbow represents the cutting edge of the telecom evolution, but more on Rainbow later.

To better understand enterprise communications today, we commissioned the attached infographic that takes a look back at the history of  the technology, dating back to the 1800s. But as you can read and probably attest to, the biggest growth has happened in just the last 25 years.

It’s hard to imagine now, as you are probably reading this on your tablet or mobile phone, but in the 1800s businesses relied on getting work done through wired, analog handsets connected via the public switched telephone network (PSTN). There wasn't even voicemail!  

Throughout the 1900s, telephony moved from analog to digital, costs decreased and communications options increased (finally, voicemail!). Private branch exchanges (PBXs) replaced switchboards and telephone operators and that was the state of the art until the introduction of IP-PBXs and then early forms of video conferencing, web conferencing and mobility.

Now, in the 2000s, and the cycle of innovation in enterprise communication started to gain speed and hasn’t slowed to this day. We all know the world changed forever in 2007 with the introduction of the iPhone, ushering in the smart phone era and forcing enterprises to accept a greater level of device diversity. But other innovations marked the era as well, including the introduction of unified communications (UC), which brought instant messaging, telephony, and audio/video/web collaboration services to the enterprise.

Then, around 2010, UC as a service (UCaaS) emerged and enabled turnkey UC services to be delivered out of a service provider’s data center, taking some of the pressure off of IT. In 2013, these game changer came on the scene, team messaging and real-time communications.

And now in 2017, Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is extending the enterprise telephony infrastructure to customer engagements, enabling web and mobile developers to add ‘click to connect’ via voice, SMS, video, and more to the web or mobile application of their choice.

That’s a lot of change since 2000!

In line with the latest developments in enterprise communications, late last year ALE introduced Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow for connecting business users, business contacts and systems to enable employees to be more collaborative and productive, inside the company and beyond.

Our work with Wainhouse Research has helped us learn a great deal about trends and issues in enterprise communications and has helped us to quickly improve Rainbow and set our platform apart.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a series of blog posts that feature infographics like the one featured in this post, that have come out of our work with Wainhouse Research and will help you better understand the enterprise communications landscape and how enterprises can successfully transition their communications.

We’ll also share data on business trends, technology and vendor trends, and keys to a successful transition.

You can download the report here and stay tuned for more great information from ALE and Wainhouse Research!

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