Vocalocity

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Rich Tehrani
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Vocalocity

Vocalocity provides customized VoIP phone solutions to small and medium size businesses, specializing in “Micro enterprise” companies with fewer than 25 employees. Vocalocity’s core service offering, VocalocityPBX, is designed to provide customers with the quality and reliability of traditional PBX phone systems, with more features, at a lower cost.
 
Phil Hill is President of Vocalocity. I recently had the chance to ask Phil several questions about his company, the future of the market and what Vocalocity will be up to at the upcoming Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO, which kicks off in less than a week in Los Angeles California.
 
 
RT: Please outline your new corporate initiatives.
PH: Our goal is to make every employee in what we call the Micro Enterprise — offices of less than 20 people — more efficient through the use of voice. This type of business has very different needs from other Small and Medium Businesses, even those with just 50 or 100 employees, and by making the phone system as easy to setup and use as e-mail we’re opening up a way to change the way these Micro Enterprises exist and do business.
 
RT: How is IP communications changing your company’s strategy?
PH: Our core strategy hasn’t changed from day one; we’re an Internet service company, not a telecom, so this is what VoIP means to us. We view phone service as a software offering, something that should be delivered as a service over the Internet free from the need to purchase and run expensive on-premise phone equipment.
 
RT: What pains does your company solve for customers?
PH: When was the last time you ventured into the office broom closet to wrestle with the PBX? Messing with that mass of blinking lights and pile of wires sandwiched between the photocopier and toilet roll is not for the faint of heart. We’ve solved that problem for the Micro Enterprise — offices of less than 20 people — NO MORE PHONE EQUIPMENT. Life is now simpler and a lot cheaper.
 
RT: How has SIP changed communications?
PH: The days of proprietary hardware and software are gone — long live standards.
 
RT: How do you think the future of the market looks?
PH: We’re just scratching the surface on the world of voice. The first priority is to drive VoIP into the Micro Enterprise — offices of less than 20 people — at its simplest level. As these businesses demonstrate their collective exhale at saving money and ridding themselves of the phone-system-management-headache, the market will increasingly show them ways to drive the efficiency of every employee through innovation in voice. The fun is just beginning and with service companies such as Vocalocity, providing the technology foundation we’re going to see more and more mash-ups and cross pollenization of voice with other apps and services.
 
RT: How does the growth rate in the U.S. compare to the rest of the world?
PH: Much of the technology innovation still occurs here, albeit at a diminishing rate, so adoption of VoIP in the home and office will probably see the U.S. driving much of what happens in the market. The growth rates of mobile VoIP innovation maybe a different story, unless high speed mobile networks become more prevalent quicker. Take the use of SMS for example; the European and Asian markets are far ahead of the U.S. in the terms of ubiquity and use.
 
RT: What do you think of Google and Apple entering the telecom market?
PH: It’ll be interesting. Both will drive innovation and create mass market acceptance of how voice can be mashed up with various services. This is good. How this will ebb into the business environment time will tell. A big dynamic that is playing its self out will continue to see Google pushing the carrier-agnostic-device-is-king approach while Apple, true to form, will for the moment continue with its school yard antics of “it’s my ball you can’t play with it” cry.
 
RT: How about Microsoft?
PH: Voice is now defined by software not proprietary expensive hardware — so Microsoft will be poking its head around the door, that’s for sure.
 
RT: How will open source technologies change our market?
PH: Already we’ve seen how open source has changed the rules of the game for telecom. Asterisk has led the charge for VoIP into the SME market and its creating a lot of value for those implementations based around on-premise equipment installations. When it comes to the hosted solutions the picture looks difference — the open source currently available doesn’t lend itself well to a dispersed model. The VoIP equipment vendors will continue to benefit from using open source for sure but whether this will be mirrored by the enterprises themselves is debatable. Larger companies are more able to implement an open source deployment so adoption here will increase but smaller enterprises, especially the Micro Enterprise — offices of less than 20 people — will not have the technical know-how or funds to mess with open source. Hosted providers like Vocalocity are a far better fit here.
 
RT: What are your thoughts regarding hosted solutions?
PH: If you look at the market 89% of businesses are of 20 people or less and this is where hosted makes most sense. At Vocalocity, we call these businesses Micro Enterprises, and from day one for us it was very clear this part of the market was so underserved because costly on-premise implementations that require a tech guy to run them just didn’t make sense. They don’t have the budget to spend twenty grand on phone equipment so they find real benefit from outsourcing the running of their voice system to a hosted provider. As you move up the scale of business size above 20 people the hosted versus on-premise debate becomes more of a valid debate.
 
RT: How will communications evolve over the next five years?
PH: Increased productivity for the individual is where we’ll see a lot going on. Larger corporations have benefited from improved communication technology over the last few years and this will continue but the time for the small guy is here. Micro Enterprises — offices of less than 20 people — can now access voice services, especially through a hosted delivery, previously out of reach. More small biz centric communication services will be made available at the right price creating a step change in productivity.
 
RT: What will the industry see at your booth at ITEXPO?
PH: The industry will see the phone system emerging from the closet. A new telephony offering delivered as a service that can be implemented easily by utilizing the industry’s most clean and intuitive online interface. It will be clear why Vocalocity is positioned to sustain our growth as the market leader delivering hosted VoIP to the Micro Enterprise of less than 20 people.
 
RT: Why is your booth a “Can’t Miss?”
PH: Vocalocity has taken great care to develop a web based configuration tool that enables anyone to skillfully setup a robust small business phone system. You’ll want to stop by for a live demonstration to see how 4,806,000 businesses can improve the way they eat, sleep, and breathe.
 
RT: What do you want the industry to know about your company?
PH: Everyone is buzzing about the opportunity with the small business market but few voice service providers, other than Vocalocity, have highlighted and built a compelling offering targeting the core part of this market: the Micro Enterprise (offices of less than 20 people). Vocalocity’s approach exploits the emergence of three huge and disruptive trends — VoIP, software-as-a-service and a perform-marketing based distribution model.
 
RT: What’s next for communications?
PH: Increased productivity for the individual is where we’ll see a lot going on. Larger corporations have benefited from improved communication technology over the last few years and this will continue but the time for the small guy is here. Micro Enterprises — offices of less than 20 people — can now access voice services, especially through a hosted delivery, previously out of reach. More small biz centric communication services will be made available at the right price creating a step change in productivity.


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