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Rich Tehrani
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Unified Communications

Vermark's Big Telecom Expense Management Ambitions

March 23, 2008

One of the fastest areas of growth in the communications market has got to be telecom expense management as TEM solutions are needed to better manage corporate telecom spend levels. The sheer variety of communications services like PSTN, SIP trunking and wireless account for billions of dollars of cost each year. In many cases, companies are unsure how to make heads and tails of disparate bills from various providers which oftentimes overlap with one another.

I often come across new vendors in the TEM space and the latest one is Veramark Technologies, a company who has its roots in call accounting. According to President and CEO Tony Mazzullo, Veramark is 25 years-old with seven thousand installations and over 200 resellers.

They recently rolled out Communications Management Suite software, version 7.0 which has enhanced user-configurable dashboards, as well as more seamless integration with Microsoft solutions and the ability to deal better with disparate business groups and carriers.

Today, the company's software manages telecom TCO including maintenance and service levels.





Microsoft's Call Center Push

March 22, 2008

There is a level of excitement in the call center space I haven't witnessed since VoIP began transforming the call center into the contact center. Over the years, we have seen technology after technology change the way contact centers work and we are the point today where IP communications affords us the opportunity to distribute call centers and agents at will.

But VoIP seems so yesterday. The latest revolution to come to contact centers is that of unified communications and about a week ago I wrote about how Aspect introduced a unified communications platform that will allow call centers to increase service, sales and first call resolution levels.

Just a few days after my article, Microsoft decided to invest in Aspect and moreover the two companies decided it made sense to collaborate on a suite of contact center solutions integrating the best of Microsoft OCS and Aspect's UC solutions.

In an interview with Mike Sheridan, SVP of Strategy for Aspect and Microsoft's Clint Patterson, Director of PR for Unified Communications I had a chance to learn more about this agreement between the operating system and contact center software leaders.

The duo believe that the synergies afforded by this collaboration will be great and they really see it as transformational… They see peoples' lives improving because of better call center service levels.

 While on the surface it is easy to dismiss such comments as PR speak, one of the most frustrating experiences many of us deal with on a regular basis is communication with rock bottom contact center agents who are still digging. Even an improvement of a few percentage points will likely make our lives a bit better.

  The two companies are in a five year agreement which encompasses a collaborative roadmap between Aspect Unified IP and OCS.











Podcast: The VoIP Connection

March 21, 2008

Communications To Fuel Global Economy Growth

March 20, 2008

Infonetics pegged PBX growth at 7% last year and they further mentioned that companies are beginning to slowly see the benefits of IP-PBX systems beyond the typical costs savings associated with lower phone bills.

With unified communications software now available and the meshing of such systems with business process software, perhaps we can expect even more market growth in 2008.

Most people I talk with in the communications space tell me they are seeing great promise in 2008 and moreover they believe companies will spend money in a slow economy if they see this spending paying off in some way.

Still, all is not rosy in the communications market as the once high-flying, recently IPOed ShoreTel has had some recent earnings trouble, share price pain and downgrades by Piper Jaffray and  Janney Montgomery Scott.

Of course ShoreTel is not alone but they signify the reason why all communications companies have to look into other areas to ensure they grow.

For example, CEBP is one way to justify increased spending on equipment, software and consulting. After all, increased productivity can be directly correlated into cost savings. In addition, in many companies the people with the largest technology budgets are the ones who purchase applications.

In a recent meeting with Nortel execs in fact they made a great point... Five years ago they said, the telecom manager got swallowed up by the datacom manager who began to own the budgets.











Carriers Need Advertising

March 20, 2008

I have been saying for over a decade that carriers need to explore ways to deliver enhanced services.

To be fair, some companies are doing this. AT&T has done an amazing job partnering with Apple (the way I hear it, Verizon declined to work with Apple which is why AT&T had the option) and then they have further offered Pandora radio as a $10/month service.

I got to thinking about these services as I was reading an eComm 2008 wrap up from Jon Arnold where he discusses the future of service providers.

One of the points made by Jon is that advertising revenue pales in comparison to current subscriber revenues and as such carriers need to focus on innovating.

While I agree with this notion, I do believe carriers must consider advertising as a major revenue source. Moreover, advertising revenue models of the old days pale in comparison to what is possible with the web, interactive television and location based services.

I have written before about the potential for mobile providers to supply customers with intimately targeted ads based on location and I am still awaiting the fantastic services of the future.

Perhaps the biggest problem service providers face is cultural.











IBM's Unified Communications Predictions

March 20, 2008

I have had over two dozen meetings with companies in the communications space these past two weeks and it is my sincere goal to be able to share the most important parts of each meeting with you. In the mean time, I am happy to say that in many cases, there are other TMC writers who are covering some of the news I plan to cover but from their own point of view.

What did catch my eye today was an article from Greg Galitzine about IBM's Mike Rhodin's predictions regarding UC trends. Rhodin thinks the virtual workplace will become the rule and real-time collaboration tools will soon bypass e-mail in importance. In the same article there is a reference to an IDC report which says the unified communications market will reach $17 billion in 2011, growing 38% compounded since 2007.

Although I haven't read this report I have to wonder if this includes the consulting/SI side of the business.



Dan Miller New TMCnet Columnist

March 19, 2008

As I mentioned a while back, TMC is experiencing record growth and I promised we would maintain our high levels of quality as we grow. TMCnet currently has just under 50 worldwide columnists and most of them write daily or even more often.

TMC continues to look for the absolute brightest thought leaders to keep you up to date and help you make informed purchasing decisions in the communications and technology space.

To that end, TMC's latest columnist is Dan Miller, an analyst at Opus Research who will write a column titled "Communications in Context."

Miller has over 25 years experience in marketing, business development and corporate strategy for telecom service providers, computer manufacturers and application software developers. He founded the highly respected analyst firm, Opus Research in 1985 and helped define the conversational access technologies marketplace by authoring scores of reports, advisories and newsletters addressing business opportunities that reside where automated speech leverages web services, mobility and enterprise software infrastructure.

More recently he oversaw the launch of research practices covering voice biometrics and local mobile search.

I am thrilled to have such a high quality writer as part of the TMCnet editorial mix and thanks again to all of our readers and sponsors who have made TMCnet so popular over these past years.

Dan's first article is titled Beyond UC: Contextual Communications and you are welcome to bookmark his columnist page so you don't miss any of the important things he has to say.











Tech Data Carries Cbeyond

March 19, 2008

3COM Deal Off the Table

March 19, 2008

Dialogic to Support Asterisk

March 18, 2008

Dialogic has announced that the company's Diva media processing boards will support Asterisk. These boards will help Asterisk systems scale and moreover increase reliability while reducing strain on the CPU. The functions handled by the Diva board include DTMF recognition/generation, PULSE detection, tone detection/generation, fax, echo cancellation, and multi-party conferencing.

In addition the Diva board can conference up to 120 active callers without causing load on the CPU.

Some of the media features of Diva boards include echo cancellation (up to 256ms), DTMF detection/clamping and modem or fax support.



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