Following up on yesterday's blog entry, Service Providers: Follow the VoIP Dollars
, another area which is obviously ripe is the business market. The last 10 years have been an interesting period in technology as it seems the tide has shifted in the way technology is adopted in the world. In the eighties, technology was adopted in the enterprise first and then migrated to the consumer. This is how it was with the PC and the laptop, the word processor, the color printer, the fax, the laser printer, etc. The one exception that comes to mind is the cordless phone.In the mid nineties I remember being in a meeting at Siemens in California and learning that Siemens was mandating the use of the web by all employees. This was a big deal at the time as the web was so new and was being mostly adopted by consumers. Web browsing was definitely bottom up in terms of adoption. This is also what happened with the PDA and is what is happening with VoIP.Now that there are millions of consumer VoIP users in the world, enterprises are beginning to understand that the same benefits they get from VoIP at home can be seen in their enterprise. This is exactly why a company like NEC, a major force in the international call center CPE market would adopt Contactual technology
and resell this service worldwide. They are getting ahead of the curve.Soon, many corporations will view themselves as large VoIP customers. This is exactly what Niklas Zennstrom of Skype said at his video conferenced keynote at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo in LA
. He expressed surprise at how many workgroups were using Skype in the enterprise.While the headlines lately have been full of companies like Skype and Vonage, what has been missed is what a company like Packet8 is doing. They recently announced something called Virtual Office
, a service which will give you much of the functionality of a business class phone system for $99 per seat for the hardware and $39 per month for the service.This offering is full featured as it allows for conferencing, the ability to e-mail voicemails, distinctive ringing, extensions, toll free numbers, virtual numbers and more. The parent company of Packet 8 service, 8x8 told me about these plans years ago. Right around the time they announced their videophone. At that time they had a hosted product they were selling to service providers. It made sense to integrate this product's functionality into Packet8 service.The irony in all this is that both 8x8 and Vonage were product companies at one point, trying to sell the products that enable VoIP to service providers. A few years ago, selling VoIP equipment to a service provider was like trying to give away Red Sox sweatshirts in Manhattan. Maybe worse.Eventually these companies decided to forget about the service providers, cable companies, etc and go it alone and become providers. Thereafter the industry took off. So I would like to add to my last entry about service provider opportunities
and tell service providers that the business market too is ripe for the taking. The benefit of going after the enterprise in the US is that you can start in a familiar country where there are very high margins and then expand your offering gradually overseas. You can even partner to provide service worldwide. Good luck. PS: Our service provider conference
offering at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo this February in Miami will be as always second to none. I see 2005 as a pivotal year for service providers and the education you will receive at the show will be needed to help maximize revenue, reduce churn and generally beat up your competition.