I am back from Dallas, TX where I met with dozens of communications and tech companies and I gained a great deal of insight on industry hotspots as well as where the speed bumps are.
Based on the resellers I spoke with, the move to open source continues with more of the agent community and interconnects 2.0 learning about and selling these solutions.
I spoke with Robert Messer of distributor ABP and he shared with me the wonder of IP security cameras which work with digital signage to show alerts on screens throughout an office. He mentioned that people think twice about getting their hands caught in the cookie jar when they realize it could be broadcast throughout a company.
Recently I have met with Nortel execs from the carrier wireline division, those at GENBAND who are picking the group up as well as execs who have made it from Nortel to Avaya. From what I see, both of these transactions seem to be going well so far. Wes Durow now vice president of global marketing at Avaya - one of the more talented people in the space is very optimistic about the company's future including the data products division. Sita Lowman who handles converged core marketing for carriers told me Nortel still has 70% marketshare in the US - a staggering amount for a company soon to emerge from bankruptcy under new ownership. Acquiring company GENBAND seemed to be pretty optimistic about their future as well. At CTIA I spoke with Mehmet Balos the Executive VP and CMO as well as well as Natasha Tamaskar, Kim Lee and veteran Micaela Giuhat. My take is they are doing a good job acquiring and integrating telecom assets from a number of companies they have acquired over the years. Consider the following... In 2004 GENBAND had one customer and about $5 million in sales. Now they say they have over 80 of the top 100 customers and are near a billion dollars in revenue. Nice.
VARs I spoke with are 50/50 on whether the Nortel enterprise acquisition by Avaya is good news. A few in-depth conversations showed me that the VARs most concerned haven't had a chance to learn about Avaya's integration plans for the future. This seems to line up with the thoughts of David Yedwab a partner at research firm Market Strategy and Analytics Partners who told me the following via email,"While the Avaya/Nortel Roadmap does a great job of providing direction and limiting the risk of product end-of-life concerns, as with most major changes, "the devil is in the details." Each customer needs to work with Avaya and their channel partner (or partners) and other related vendors to map out a detailed future for their specific environment." Perhaps the most positive news for Avaya is that lately I haven't heard anything about the channel fleeing to other companies - as I mentioned after speaking with Mitel CEO Don Smith and President and COO Paul Butcher last October.
Based on my meetings with companies in Dallas, SIP trunking, FMC and optical are hot growth areas and the US call center market seems to be performing slower than expected. The move to hosted apps has not accelerated according to most vendors I have talked with but others told me the hosted market is accelerating. The takeaway is the move to the cloud is certainly not slowing down.
Obviously if more companies purchase hosted apps then CPE becomes a tougher sell and channel partners are responding by working with CPE vendors and financing companies to craft payment plans which mirror the benefits and payments of a hosted solution. The mood of the telecom/datacom market is more optimistic than last year with the requisite caution ingrained in us all after witnessing a half dozen bubbles bursting (dotcom, telecom, housing, credit, retail, construction) in a decade.