Welcome to Beyond VoIP

Welcome to my new blog --  Beyond VoIP!

First, please pardon the appearance of my blog page design -- I will be adding entries to the blog roll, and other design amenities to the blog shortly, but I didn't want my blog design procrastination to hold things up.

Secondly, for those of you who aren't familiar with me or my byline, please take a gander at my bio, which is a fairly comprehensive backgrounder of my longtime involvement in the telecom/IP communications industry.

For those of you who do know me, this blog is because of you -- you've been asking me for what seems like eons when I would launch a vehicle for more frequent coverage of the industry, and I'm happy to oblige... Also, I'd like to thank Rich Tehrani for his support and for providing me with a digital soapbox on which to wax eloquently about an industry I remain as excited about as when I first became involved with it almost 26 years ago.

About VoIP will carry my thoughts, opinions and notable industry news items relating to the next evolutionary wave of IP Communications -- and go beyond the coverage of simple Web-based dial tone to cover the gamut of emerging new services and applications that represent the full promise of IP-based communications.

As I wrote in my column "Pushing the VoIP Envelope", from the September, 2005 issue of Internet Telephony:

As a technology and as an industry, IP telephony has come an astoundingly long way in the decade or so since the road of mass commercialization was taken. It’s gotten to the point where the quality and reliability of a broadband IP call is pretty much on par with regular POTS service, and most IP-based enterprise solutions are gaining the degree of end-user confidence typically afforded to legacy TDM equipment.

But herein lies the rub: it seems to me that much of the work up until now has been to create “functional equity” with TDM technology, and in effect replicate the telephony features and functions we’ve been “enjoying” for the past numerous decades. IP-PBX engineers have gone to great pains to duplicate the hundreds of features of their companies’ TDM-based gear, employing SIP and proprietary SIP extensions to get them there. VoIP service providers, meanwhile, have succeeded in replicating most of the Class 5 features we all take for granted.
Forgive me for saying this, but I have to question the point of “going IP” if the switch or migration is going to simply replicate what we already have in the TDM domain. I know much of the justification for an enterprise migration usually revolves around cost savings and various networking efficiencies - and these reasons are certainly not insignificant. But in order to realize true, new value, users have to go beyond the ordinary and start taking advantage of new applications that rely on the power and flexibility of IP communications - and have the potential to catalyze deep, positive and fundamental changes in business process.

Of course, there is a slew of new IP-centric enhanced features and services that have been developed - in fact, most are quite near and dear to my heart -- and I applaud those vendors and providers that have developed them. However, among many users, there seems to be a hesitation, or timidity, to embracing the newer, more innovative capabilities of the technology. Perhaps it’s a matter of users moving up the learning curve, and gaining a good comfort level with the technology before they start extending beyond the tried and true.

So what are the new apps and capabilities that get me excited and glad to be part of such a dynamic industry? It’s a long list, but here’s a short list of some of my favorites:

Knowledge Management. A few companies, such as Mitel Networks, has a nifty app that can link a incoming or outgoing call to information resources that reside on a user’s PC or anywhere in the corporate network. Think of it as CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) on steroids, allowing the automatic search and retrieval of documents, spreadsheets, email messages, etc. that relate to the person at the other end of the line.

Mobility Solutions. What I have in mind here goes beyond the inherent “number portability” feature of VoIP, which involves the ability to have an office extension or home number “travel” with a user to remote locations, allowing seamless connectivity to corporate communications resources. WiFi telephony certainly rates as a killer mobility app. But beyond basic WiFi telephony are emerging solutions that meld wireline and wireless resources into a seamless system that keeps a user connected to the network whether he’s roaming around town or the corporate campus with a multi-mode mobile phone, PDA or laptop.

Supply Chain Integration. A number of innovative players are developing apps that link supply chain “events” with communications resources to generate powerful, new business opportunities. One such Texas-based company, Ipcelerate is developing ways to leverage supply chain RFID technology to trigger a variety of notifications. For example, new DVD players (or any other item) arriving in port, or in a store, can be scanned, and customers on a waiting list can be automatically notified that their order is ready for shipment or pickup.

Presence Power. Leveraging IM buddy lists, and a host of presence-based collaboration apps, promises to drive a whole new level of efficiency and productivity for today’s workers. Think solutions like Siemens’ OpenScape, which takes collaborative computing to the next level by offering intelligent, real-time access to people, calendars, and files through presence-based communication and multi-resource collaboration.

Security. Foremost in the minds of most people today, IP telephony can provide an important “platform” for tying video surveillance and variety of sensors into corporate-wide communication resources, in effect leveraging all the eyes and ears of all employees of a company.

Beyond VoIP will also cover Web telephony (Skype, et al), IMS, IPTV, and any other technology, product, service or application that strives to push the envelope of the IP Communications industry -- serving to redefine and/or create brand new capabilities and business opportunities.

I look forward to your comments, leads to trailblazing new products and services, and requests for any special coverage.
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1 Comment

Welcome to the blogosphere! Great first post.

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