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Telecom Manager Can Make Difference in World Where Information Is Power.

There are many critical opportunities and challenges we all face today and over the remainder of this decade: the demanding job of sorting through the many suppliers and products in the industry; the proliferation of digital technology; the beginning of an international digital standard; the integration of voice and data.

According t the Gartner Group, the US PBX market alone grew to $3.5 million per year in 1984. At the latest count, there were 35 companies selling PBXs in that market, where there was only one major supplier 15 years ago.

The telecommunications industry as a whole has grown tremendously. We've made great strides in telecommunications technologies . . . making it easier and more effective for your companies. The divestiture of AT&T has opened the door for many new suppliers of both internal and external equipment and services. Alternate long-distance services and networking options abound. With these changes in the industry, however, has come confusion ofr your customers and for you. I see confusion about changing user requirements, about the many suppliers of long-distance services and PBX equipment, and who, ultimately, will survive.

As a result of the divestiture, your job is more challenging today than ever before. In fact, your job is quite possibly one of the toughest in US business: managing the dramatic changes in the way your own companies use information, and sorting through the myriad telecommunications suppliers and options.

Today, you have to keep up with technological changes and advances, listen closely to your users, and better understand suppliers and their products. This responsibility is always risky. But today, more than ever before, the competitive strength of your company is dependant on the decisions you make about the users of your communications system.

Digital Proliferation

The proliferation of digital technology in all areas of the telecommunications system--the central office, the PBX and desktop instruments--is an opportunity that you cannot afford to ignore in today's market. Externally, digital central office facilities are rapidly replacing analog, providing more networking capabilities and enhanced features. In fact, in 1985, according to Dataquest, less than 16 percent of the newly installed central-office facilities will be analog.

The minimum cost premium now required to step up to digital telephones will continue to shrink in the future, making the benefits of the digital telephone even more accessible. Today, voice and data integration is primarily evident in the form of shared facilities: common wiring for voice and data, within the building, and shared digital transmission facilities such as T1/D3, that integrate both voice and data communications, all providing cost savings and efficiency benefits.

The benefits of physical voice and and data integration on the desktop will be improved communications, and universal access from the desktop to a wide variety of information resources. Desktop products are providing voice and data functions like data call set-up at the touch of a button, advanced digital telephone features, and a wide variety of personal communication services, all in very compact packages.

Perhaps the most challenging task in telecommunications today is meeting your user's requirements for high-speed data transmission. It's a confusing area, but the critical point for all of us to focus on is not the technologies, but rather on the best solution to the particular user-communication environment. There'll be no one solution to all situations. In the end, we'll see a hybrid of options, among these are the digital PBX, the LAN, and hardware and connections. We don't need to wait five years to figure out which of these alternatives will be applied where. The PBX is the solution as the virtually universal connection, providing, on an occasional basis, the most users access to the most equipment, both internally and externally. The LAN is most appropriate for departmental-level applications and for groups of users who require very high-versed data rates. And the hardware option is best for the constant connection and headsdown data user.

The past 10 years represent an almost traumatic, yet nevertheless necessary, breaking with the past as we build the tools and expertise to move into the future. Never have we faced greater opportunities and greater challenges. The remainder of the decade will be filled with changes in all areas of telecommunications. By 1990, virtually no new analog PBXs or central offices will be installed, and that includes all sizes from very small, to as small as a few lines, up to the largest central offices.

Ninety percent of all PBX lines will be digital, and the number could approach 100 percent. Moreover, users will demand end-to-end digital capability for voice and data communications from one business location through a variety of transmission facilities to another business location. Their requirements are going to be much greater than are currently expected. In fact, this demand for digital capabilities may outstrip supply in the next 10 years. That situation could create a fantastic opportunity for the regional BOCs is they played their cards right. If they don't, the opportunities are going to other suppliers' digital networks.

Users will also need an international digital standard, and ISDN will become that worldwide standard. Europe is already ahead of us in this area. But serious implementation of ISDN in the United States will be in progress by the end of the decade. You probably know that limited testing of ISDN in central offices is taking place today. But actually, I'm talking about a muchbroader implementation in all areas of telecommunication. ISDN will be implemented in the home, at the desktop, in the PBX and in the central offices all in the next 10 years.

It's important that the industry agree on the standards that ISDN will be. Standards that benefit you and your customers, not special-industry factions. For example, with appropriate standards, we don't need protective connecting arrangements between your facilities and the network.

Having decided those standards, the industry will move rapidly to implement a worldwide system. With a single system and a single standard, companies will be able to have a common, easily administered voice and data network at a lower cost. And the benefits of ISDN implementation will flow directly to your users around the world as they realize broader access to information resources and improved communication.

Today's PC will cost less than $500 around the turn of the decade as the price/performance ratio for elective technology improves at a rate of about 20 percent per year, and the price/performance of disk drives and printers improves at about $10 to $15 per year. But office workers by then will be demanding more capabilities, so we can expect to see a telecomputing device that costs about the same as today but that has dramatically improved functionality. There will be no dumb-terminal products.

Voice messaging will be the most common form of internal communications in the office environment. It will never, of course, replace person-to-person telephone contact when communicating, especially with those outside of your company.

Personal contact will continue to be essential. However, especially in large businesses, voice messaging will take on a greater role in intra-office communications. As I'm sure you've experienced, three out of every four telephone calls are not answered by the person for whom they're intended. They are answered by secretaries or message centers, and often by no one at all. When one phone call can be made and information passed on via a voice message, time is saved, productivity is enhanced, and frustration is eased. It's been estimated that a single memo today costs between $10 and $15 in writing time, typing, copying and distribution time and costs. If 100 people wrote one less memo per week because of voice messaging, the weekly cost savings would be about $1500, or the annual cost savings about $80,000 per 100 people.

I think electronic mail is a very important answer. It's just that I believe voice messaging is very efficient and effective. It is easy to use, fast, and you don't have to sit at a keyboard to type. It's easier to send messages with voice messaging than with electronic mail. It is easier to receive messages with electronic mail, but the question is, who is going to be creating the messages? In my mind, it's people sending the messages, since it's easier to send voice message.

Tailor Tools to Best Fit Needs

Finally, if you don't already have a substantial software-development staff, you'll require one by the end of the decade. The biggest challenge you'll face in the decade ahead is meeting your company's unique communications requirements. The telecommunications industry will provide you with powerful hardware and software tools, including digital PBXs, central office facilities, desktop instruments, networks, application products and processors. Even these software and hardware tools provide your company with the prospects of improved functionality, the realy pay-off will be your capabilities to tailor your tools to best fit the special needs of your organization.

The past 10 years have shown that your efforts can have a significant impact on the way American business and the way the world communicates. You've brought decentralized computing capabilities, more efficient and effective networking, and more productivity-containing telephone features to your companies. Your influence during the next decade will continue to change the manner in which your business receive, use and send information. Your role is of critical strategic importance in the decade ahead. You can make the difference in a world where information is power, where the ability to receive and send information effectively will determine whether your company becomes an also-ran or a major competitive force in your industry. The telecommunications industry must meet the challenges that you, our customers, present to us. We must look at the world of both voice and data as one.

But most importantly, regardless of technological advances, we all must remember that business is still people, and our job is to facilitate the work people do. We must first understand customer needs and then apply the appropriate technologies.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Oshman, K.
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:transcript
Date:Jun 1, 1985
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