AudioCodes Interview

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AudioCodes Interview

Anyone in the IP communications business knows quite well that Alan Percy is one of the most well-connected and knowledgeable players in the space. Alan’s day job is Director of Business Development at AudioCodes and I swear his night and weekend job is to travel this great country of ours and the world at large and attend any and every communications event known.
 
There are few events I go to where Alan is not present. Even I envy his frequent flyer account. :)
 
Percy’s years in the business have given him deep relationships at companies making networking equipment, PBXs, ACDs, call center software, softswitches and just about anything and everything in communications.
 
AudioCodes is a provider of communications enabling equipment, gateways, SBCs and so much more. As the market evolves; I thought it made great sense to pick Alan’s brain about the future of communications. This is the result of a recent interview:

Please outline your new corporate initiatives.

Earlier this year we launched a campaign to highlight our SIP strategy to a wider audience. We call this our "Break Free" message, helping developers cast off the shackles of the legacy CTI architecture, restrictive device drivers and operating system dependence. To accomplish this, we leveraged the on-board SIP features available on virtually all of our products from gateways to media servers and our session border controller platforms. Application developers can now use SIP from end-to-end to create some pretty incredible applications.

How is IP communications changing your company’s strategy?

IP communications is in our DNA. It has been our core focus for the last 14 years of being in business. We create the tools needed to re-build the telecommunications infrastructure and deliver on the promise of IP communications.

How has SIP changed communications?

The biggest impact of SIP is that it delivers a common signaling and control platform used to enable interoperability. With SIP, developers can create resources and applications on their own, then integrate them together to create a service at a much later date. We've seen many cases where our SIP media gateways or media servers have been integrated to applications very quickly. Not in years or months, but days. SIP also bridges the gap between open source and commercial products, providing a common ground for interoperability.

What is the biggest request coming from your customer base?

We're seeing greater demands for increasing intelligence in our platforms. As real world IP communications solutions are being built, the complexities of integrating to existing equipment, outbound dialing, protocol compatibility, and reliability are hitting the integrators.

How are you answering their demands?

We constantly work with application integrators and know their pain.  For example, we recently helped a customer build a range of advanced contact center applications that needed to include high-performance outbound call progress and answering machine detection with our SIP media gateways and media servers. These new features required that the edge devices (media gateways) have the intelligence to dial a number and listen to the audible feedback to determine whether a live caller answered, it was busy or was answered by voice mail. To accomplish this in the timeframes required by the FCC, we had to push the intelligence into the media gateway - making it smart enough to detect all of the possible answer situations. 

What do you think the future of the market is?

One of the interesting technologies that we just now are beginning to understand is video.  Not the "Jetson's video phone" or YouTube on your mobile phone, but applications like remote surveillance or observation (think virtual zoo), video customer support, education and other live experiences. 

What do you think of Google and Apple entering the telecom market?

In my opinion, both Google and Apple view telecom as a conduit to access their media services whether music, entertainment, directions, news etc. The telephone is just another screen and speaker but one that is always on-hand and is mobile. Look for them to promote pay-per-listen/view content, directory/search capabilities and programming with advertising.

How about Microsoft
?

We're thrilled to finally see Microsoft join the telecommunications application space with Office Communications Server and Unified Messaging. Our media gateway platforms help these software products connect to customer's PBX or TDM telephone circuits.

How will wireless technologies change our market
?

The biggest news you will hear more about this upcoming year will be auctioning off the old VHF and UHF analog television channels and their re-application as data services. This part of the radio spectrum is prime waterfront real estate that has very good propagation and can better penetrate walls and offices. More importantly, it's a fresh start that could take us in a new direction away from the closed networks and handheld devices supplied by the current wireless carriers.

How will communications evolve over the next five years?

I think we'll start to depend more on "collaborative communications" in the next five years. As we shift from an office-bound environment to more mobile and remote workers, there needs to be a better way that multiple people can work together on tasks and initiatives. Kind of a cross between Skype and Webex where we can have work areas where we can go to share ideas and content, but without picking up the phone. Think virtual conference rooms where we can join in and leave, but the room is where the common project resides.

What sorts of things will we be hearing about during your presentation at ITEXPO?

A key message we'll be sharing at this ITEXO is our SIP strategy. It totally changes the way applications are designed and built. 

Why is your presentation a “Can’t Miss?”

SIP is totally changing the way applications are being built and developers, VARS and even end customers should understand how this will impact their IP Communications solutions.

What do you want the industry to know about your company?

The most important attributes of AudioCodes are our technical depth and financial stability.  So many other players in this market are skating on financial thin ice or living off someone else's engineering department.  AudioCodes has a significant ongoing research and development team that works hard to push the envelope and deliver reliable products.  And as a public company, our financials are completely transparent, allowing our customers to see that we'll be here for the long haul.

Please make one surprising prediction we will see in 5 years
.

I'd like to see the equivalent of the Rural Electrifications Act of 1936 occur with broadband internet. Much like bringing electricity to the masses, bringing the Internet to every household would raise the standard of living, close gaps in education and expand our market for IP communications equipment. Then again, I'd just be happy with a cell phone that works!


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