Inter-Tel executives Aron Aicard (Director of Product Marketing), Jon Young (Director, Softswitch Technology) and Rick Ringel (Strategic Solutions Engineer), gave me this exclusive interview. They talked to me about Inter-Tel’s new corporate initiatives, the impact of SIP technology, and the future of the market in general.
Recently merged with Mitel Networks Corporation, Inter-Tel is a high-profile provider of business telephone systems and related software products.
It will be interesting to see how Inter-Tel/Mitel does under the leadership of the capable Mitel and Inter-Tel management. This includes of course Sir Terry Matthews who seems to turn everything into gold.
Please outline your new corporate initiatives.
Now that its merger with Mitel has been concluded, Inter-Tel is working closely with its colleagues at Mitel to broaden its collective suite of solutions to deliver seamless, advanced IP platforms, applications and services to businesses ranging from large enterprises to SOHO environments.   
How has SIP changed communications?
We are only in the early stages of SIP acceptance, but Inter-Tel sees SIP—and other industry standards—as integral to the evolution of business communications. SIP gives businesses the flexibility to choose the applications and devices that best fit their needs without having to be locked into proprietary architecture. This type of flexibility is a prime factor in Inter-Tel’s decision to build the Inter-Tel 7000 on industry standards like SIP. We are hearing more requests from businesses that are looking to integrate their own preferred solutions into their networks, as well as link communications with other business processes. SIP plays an instrumental part in facilitating these requirements.
What is the biggest request coming from your customer base?
Customers want to see a tangible return on their technology investments. As a general rule today, customers will not make any investment in technology until they understand the benefits they will receive operationally, as well as financially. We fully understand and support these requirements.
How are you answering their demands?
Inter-Tel has always had the ability to accurately demonstrate the value of its solutions in hard numbers. Our calculators go far beyond measuring the typical efficiencies in communications, such as reduced toll charges and network efficiencies. Inter-Tel has created tools to show how our technologies can help customers generate leads, shorten sales cycles, reduce travel costs, increase inventory turns, and certainly reduce communications expenditures. These are issues that face every business. When we can demonstrate how our solutions positively impact these ubiquitous business needs, we position Inter-Tel as a strategic partner as opposed to just another vendor.
What do you think the future of the market is?
There is a lot of room for growth in the industry, particularly in the areas of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA.) Many businesses are exploring SOA as a viable means to integrate communications with other business processes like accounting, CRM, and inventory management. This is a concept that we feel has enormous promise, and will help re-define how communications can serve the market.
What sorts of things will we be hearing about during your presentation at ITEXPO?
Aron Aicard: “One of the concepts we want to stress in our presentation is that the requirements of small businesses are in many respects more sophisticated than those of larger companies. When you look at a small business, they often have similar—if not identical—needs as their larger counterparts. They very often compete on a global basis, they rely on mobile and de-centralized workforces, and their sales cycles and time-to-market is compressed. The major difference is that small businesses do not have the human or financial resources as larger companies, and as a result, they need to rely on advanced tools, such as VoIP, in order to survive. I feel it is a mistake for vendors to minimize or overlook the requirements of small businesses. They need to leverage technology as much as any other business.”
Jon Young: “With all the talk about SIP in the industry, very few businesses really understand how this protocol can transform business processes. We want to show attendees with a grounding in SIP how it can be implemented efficiently, how it effects important requirements like security and redundancy, and certainly, how it practically serves the needs of the customer in terms of delivering new capabilities, and streamlining communications.”
Rick Ringel: “Unified Communications and collaboration really takes IP Telephony to a whole new level by breaking down the barriers of geography. Through these applications, businesses can link together mobile workers, remote sites, off-shore suppliers and even customers to work and communicate in real time. In many respects, unified communications marks the first step in creating an SOA-type of environment by facilitating business process integration on a one-to-one scale.”
What do you want the industry to know about your company?
Inter-Tel, along with its partner Mitel, intuitively understand the needs of businesses, and has developed a comprehensive array of platforms, applications, devices and peripherals and services to help customers address real business needs, like increasing revenue, streamlining operations, enhancing customer service, and controlling costs. Inter-Tel and Mitel offer leading edge technologies that scale from SOHO environments to large enterprises. Inter-Tel’s leading managed services program provides customers with a comprehensive communications solution that includes all hardware, software, applications, data network build-out and provisioning, carrier services, customer support, and migration strategy, all for one fixed monthly fee.

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