Jewel Team     Serving the Central IL region from Dunlap, IL     Local: 309.243.8100

Times - They are Continually A - Changin'

Question: Which one of these events did not occur in 2003?

·  California residents recall Governor Gray Davis and replace him with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger

·  Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken vie for top honors on American Idol

·  Apple launches ITunes

·  The oldest, most distant planet to date is discovered

·  The telecom consulting firm Jewel Team is launched


Answer: They all happened in 2003, along with the worst blackout in U.S. history, Gov. George Ryan’s commutation of all Illinois death row inmates’ sentences and the national do-not-call registry going into effect—plus many other events ranging from horrific to awe-inspiring.

At that time, like much of the world, the telecommunications industry was poised for rapid change. A vivid example: In the cellular world of 2003, feature-rich wireless devices were catching on for personal and business use, but the term “smartphone” had yet to reach the mainstream. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 61 percent of U.S. cell phone owners today have a smartphone. (What’s in your hand, pocket or bag right now?)


Looking back over the past 10 years, I marvel at how this and a raft of other changes have affected my clients and their businesses of all sizes. Just a few examples…


What’s “IP”? By 2003, analog had receded into the rear-view mirror and digital was king for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Internet Protocol (IP) was barely on the horizon for this sector. However, in the February 2003 issue of Business Communications Review, then-editor Fred Knight predicted “IP-PBXs (Private Branch Exchanges) are nudging up against the tipping point for going mainstream.” He was right. By 2005 the market for IP-PBXs had soared to $1.6 billion and the price had dropped about 50 percent, according to Jupiter Research Ltd. Today it’s impossible to quote a system at any level that’s not IP.


Cutting the wires. That same magazine issue featured an article noting the average business user was spending more than 50 percent more than his/her consumer counterpart for cellular service, leading more service providers to offer corporate contracts. Still, while mobile—whether via external cellular provider or internal network—was prevalent in a few markets like health care and manufacturing, it had not reached most SMBs. Today, cellular is so prevalent, some businesses are choosing it for their multi-phone system vs. a traditional wired system.


No straws necessary. In 2003, most people still thought SIP was a tidy way to drink. Now it means “Session Initiation Protocol” and many of my enterprise-sized clients use it to transmit their voice traffic. It’s still not as reliable as the tried-and-true digital platforms (widespread outages with both local and national carriers occurred as recently as July 2013), but it’s certainly a technology on the rise.


Connecting the dots. Very few SMBs had even heard of Unified Communications (UC) in 2003. If used, it was to translate voicemail notifications to email or initiate a call using the Microsoft Outlook call button. Now even smaller systems have UC platforms allowing for Web collaboration, including the ability to screen-share during a voice conference call. UC also can allow options like having a user’s cell phone and desk phone ring simultaneously, routing calls based on inbound caller ID and making calls from a cell phone that appear to come from an office phone. The options are wide open and a lot of fun. Just be careful because most come with additional cost.  As always, business productivity and enhancement should be the driver for these add-ons.


No more silos. In 2003, telephone system support within an organization came from a telecommunications group. Unless a business had multiple locations to connect, there was no need to collaborate or even communicate with the IT department. Today, the telecom and IT departments almost always are one department or some telecom departments are eliminated to be replaced solely by the IT department.


The list goes on. With steady changes like these, managers tasked with choosing or upgrading telecom systems to meet their company’s unique needs easily can feel overwhelmed. That’s the reason I launched Jewel Team 10 (seemingly short) years ago: to offer unbiased assistance in choosing or upgrading telecom systems. In my 19 years of experience in the industry, I’ve seen first-hand that even managers with strong knowledge of such systems often don’t have time to dedicate to such an important initiative.


If you or someone you know could use help with telecommunications needs, I and my network of skilled consultants at Jewel Team are ready to help.


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1508 W. Grandridge Drive
Dunlap, IL 61525
Local: 309.243.8100
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