David Byrd, vice president of marketing and product management at Broadvox kicked off the Internet Telephony Conference and EXPO Keynote schedule here in Miami Beach Wednesday evening with a presentation entitled Assessing SIP Trunking.
Byrd, who was the CEO of Planet Hollywood.com at one point in his career, started by telling a story of how different some of the major investors were. Jackie Chan was a good guy, Byrd said, and was always willing to give an autograph to a fan. Sylvester Stallone on the other hand, was not so keen on giving his autograph, and managed to upset a fan and investor in the company. As CEO, Byrd went to Stallone and convinced him to sign several autographs for the fan so she could give them out to her friends.
Byrd also mentioned that it was his 23rd wedding anniversary. So I for one am left wondering if Byrd was on safer ground as someone who was able to sway Rocky/Rambo to cave on an autograph or as a husband who had to leave his home at 4am to deliver a trade show keynote in Miami on the day of his anniversary.
Byrd began the presentation by giving some background on his company Broadvox, a nationwide provider that has been in business since 2001. He explained to the audience that his company’s customers are made up of wholesale SIP origination and termination carriers, as well as ITSPs.
In 2007 Broadvox made the conscious decision to add an SMB offering to their suite of products, recognizing a trend in the market as SMBs appeared keen on consuming these types of services.
Rounding into the core of the keynote, Byrd began the discussion of how users should assess their decision process in selecting SIP trunking and the decisions that would need to be made.
In evaluating the assessment criteria, Byrd mentioned that the time has already come when SIP and VoIP lines are what people want to buy. In fact he referenced research stating that last year, nearly 80% of lines sold were VoIP lines.
Among the reasons that are driving the uptake of VoIP lines, Byrd mentioned the following:
- SIP’s ability to change the cost structure with regard to communications strategy within a company;
- The ability to become more mobile, meaning the ability to change locations in times of growth, and physical expansion;
- The potential to increase employees’ productivity, by improving the ability to interact with customers and suppliers;
- And also, what Byrd referred to as “any device” capability, which allows users to set their preferences to have home/office/cell phones and even their PC ring at the same time.
“It’s the connectivity,” said Byrd, “that makes your life easier once you deploy SIP.”
The five criteria Byrd talked about were:
- Solution offering
- Standard compliance
Price is often first element that users are keen to address, but there’s so much more that goes into that equation than what appears at first blush. What kind of service are we talking about? And, what about the need to consider migration strategies (slow and steady upgrade versus wholesale forklift changes), and of course the ramifications of potential business interruption.
As Byrd told the ITEXPO audience, total cost of ownership and return on investment (TCO and ROI) as companies decide to transition from legacy switches to modern IP PBXs is not necessarily cheap. Customers need to weigh the long-term cost of disruption and costs of moving versus the benefits when making that decision.
As far as quality, Byrd recommended to the attendees that they must become familiar with the carrier who would be offering them their services. Will the carrier offering the service actually be able to back up that service offering? Do they offer a service level agreement (SLA)? This of course speaks to the subject of service reliability and who owns the network and who manages the quality?
Byrd said that voice quality needs to be as close as possible to — or better than — traditional POTS quality in order to be a worthwhile consideration. And in fact, the news is good on that front as 88% of businesses who made the transition from legacy services to IP communications would recommend the switch when asked.
The keynote then ranged to include discussion of Business Process Integration and how technology for technology’s sake is no longer the key consideration. In fact we need to move beyond the simple technology conversation to include what implementation of this technology means to the business.
Also what’s the best way to get a hold of this technology? Byrd quoted a recent report that stated that SIP trunking has a level of complexity in it that is best served by using a third-party resource who understands the local needs of the customer. Who or what is that third-party resource? The VAR or value added reseller. And that reseller needs to be backed by a legitimate service provider who can assist by providing:
- Support Services;
- 24x7 operations center; and
- Expert engineering support.
It is critical to have a well trained group of experts supporting this technology at this time, Byrd said. SIP is not yet fully plug-and-play. Engineering support is still need to understand the environment of a particular business. The standard exists but people still interpret it differently.
And the technology needs to be further supported by high-quality personal customer care, thorough VAR/distributor training and subsequently, customer training.
As Byrd steered toward the end of his presentation, he made the following observation. Nearly 30% of SMB customers are using VoIP and SIP, yet we still call them early adopters. Why is that? Primarily, because SIP, while it’s considered a standard, still needs to be tweaked to ensure full interoperability among the various elements (IP Phones, IP PBXs, SBCs, etc…) of a complete solution.
And what of the new and exciting applications that SIP promises? Applications such as collaboration, rich media conferencing, presence, live video from a mobile phone, VoIP with speech recognition, mobile voice conferencing, and so on?
As we think about these new applications, especially in a remote or distributed setting we need to take advantage of new IP-based solutions. Compliance will help us get there.
And lastly, certifications are important.
“Check the list,” Byrd urged the audience, “See what equipment is certified. It will help you drive the best possible business decision.”