Goodnight PBX, Goodnight Moon

9:00 AM -- Oh, sorry, for a minute there I was back in a chair with one of my four kids on my lap reading Margaret Wise Brown’s famous children’s book in a proven pre-bed strategy to get them to sleep.

Which, I guess is where Steve Gleave, VP of marketing for Metaswitch Networks , wanted me to be. He’s written Silver Linings, subtitled "Nursery Rhymes for Cloudy Times," in which he offers 20 illustrated (there’s a drawing of a cloud-like telephone receiver on the cover) bedtime stories about the demise of the PBX and rise of IP-based telephony services from carriers. (No obvious connection to the R-rated new Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence movie hit, Silver Linings Playbook.)

So why spend time writing nursery rhymes about PBXs? Gleave said he’s trying to make a personal connection with customers, in his case, service providers to which Metaswitch sells its VOIP, SIP-trunking, and other IP services products.

“I’ve always believed marketing campaigns had to go beyond the standard business interaction,” Gleave said. While he was at Premisys, an access infrastructure player in the late '90s, Gleave had a system where after any sales call, his team called up an Internet florist and sent flowers to moms, boyfriends, girlfriends or whomever the potential customer suggested. “It was one of the best marketing programs I ever did as for years we had customers come back to us and remember the flowers we sent. We found a way to connect to the family. It was a little cheeky, and good marketing.”

It’s all part of another program Gleave is running to document the end of the PBX (see http://www.rememberwhenpbx.com/) in which he’s gotten about 25 customers to send old photos of PBXs and received a few thousand page views. “We wanted to tell people don’t worry, the PBX has gone into the cloud and it has passed on to a better place. The cloud led us to the nursery rhyme idea, and the book that we hope, in perfect world, we can give to big customers that have kids and make an impression.”

And the connection between a PBX bedtime book and driving sales at carriers is ... ? “Bluntly truthful, I’m not sure it helps,” Gleave said. “We do sell systems to service providers who then can sell hosted services. If I were a national service provider, selling a cloud telephony solution, it does point to some ideas of how to successfully market that service, and in that way helps us to have a good conversation with carriers.”

Gleave had 500 books printed, and has about 50 left if Goodnight Moon is not working for your two-year-old. Check out this link to get the gist: http://issuu.com/metaswitch/docs/metaswitch_sl_ebook_final

— Joe Braue, Group Director and SVP, Light Reading

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:17:14 PM
re: Goodnight PBX, Goodnight Moon


I guess I am completely befuddled.  It is like saying...my airplane has now obsoleted the horse and buggy.  PBXes are NOT dead - they have become IP PBXes.  TDM PBXes died to IP PBXes about 10 years ago.  That is what confuses me.  If they said, well now we have put Shoretel out of business that would be one thing.  But putting 30 year old PBXes out of business?  

Just as an aside, I worked at Siemens before they bought Rolm on DMI based Terminal Adaptors.  Talk about your obsolete technology.  :)



gleavieboy 12/5/2012 | 5:17:00 PM
re: Goodnight PBX, Goodnight Moon

I wouldn't take it too literally, Seven. There's some artistic license in here - kinda' like cows don't really jump over moons:) Metaswitch is helping preserve the memories of TDM PBXs before those tech titans are gone for good. Sure, they can be replaced with an iPBX, (industry props to Shoretel, and others) or, of course, a hosted service. My long term bet is on the latter.  Probably long before any Marketing piece is ever 100% accurate or this book is up for a Pulitzer:)

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:16:59 PM
re: Goodnight PBX, Goodnight Moon


I recognize marketing bs...but TDM PBXes are not being put out of business.  They WERE put out of business about 10 years ago.  I am sure you can still find some still being used but nothing being done now is going to kill TDM PBXes.  It is like shooting a dead body...sure its dead...but it already was dead.

Hosted IP Voice services follow in the tradition of Centrex.  Yes, some companies will buy them but I would not expect to see them go completely that way.  What I expect is the complete death of wireline voice services - except for gaming and conferencing.  If your company gives a person a cell phone, why not use it all the time?  There are already services that exist that allow you to have the equivalent of call center functions using them.



gleavieboy 12/5/2012 | 5:16:56 PM
re: Goodnight PBX, Goodnight Moon

Some fair points in there, Seven.  Not sure we ever said we were killing them - just honoring the memory when they're finally laid to rest.  Whether they're dead, zombified or just waiting for God, depends on the current install and competitively priced alternatives.  But I'm not convinced that wireless is a viable [business] alternative yet, or in the foreseeable future.  Obviously we have a large installed based of wireline customers and we're committed to bringing them the latest technology while also helping to deliver and market compelling services.  These companies are central to many local businesses and good people in good communities need them to stay relevant.  I'm backing them to remain so - especially considering that no wireless provider has yet to offer Metaswitch (even in San Francisco and London) anything approaching a sensible corporate calling plan that provides desktop softphones, cost-effective roaming, great battery life, HD voice, corporate wifi offload/coverage etc.. Meanwhile we've got a terrific hosted service that gives me all this, and integrates completely with BYOD Android/iPhone endpoints from any wireless carrier.  All that said, I'm sure my daughter will grow up caring as much about twisted pair as she does about AC/DC.  Poor thing.

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