Here is my Publisher’s Outlook from the October 2007 Internet Telephony Magazine. It is rough and needs some editing but should give you a good idea of why you should be subscribing and reading every issue of the magazine. 🙂
The most recent Internet Telephony Conference & Expo in Los Angeles, California demonstrated to me (and everyone in attendance) just how strong the IP communications market is. We had a tremendous number of resellers, enterprise customers and service providers at the show. What perhaps caught me off guard most was just how high the energy level at the show was. I believe that a high energy level directly translates into a great environment for many companies in the IP communications space. Here is a video which captures some of this energy.
Marketers always need to understand who is buying what. There’s an old adage “Your best prospects are your existing customers.” Of course, finding some new ones isn’t a bad idea either, which is why vendors of IP equipment and services — not to mention media and expo organizations such as TMC — depend on accurate customer and industry demographics in shaping a strategy for the IP communications marketplace.
In the case of ITEXPO West 2007, the audience for this event consisted of the following:
- Enterprise: 35%
- Reseller: 32%
- Service Provider: 23%
- OEM/Developer: 10%
News and More News
An overwhelming amount of industry news emerged from this recent ITEXPO. In fact, I cannot remember a TMC event with more analysts, members of the press or articles written about news breaking from the show. I captured some of these stories in a recent blog entry.
Additionally, here’s a recap of my experience at the conference and the results of a few of my meetings there. . .
As the show launched, I moderated a session titled Making Money Selling VoIP and the panelists gave some important “takeaway” advice for the reseller community: Become a partner in your customer’s success or else. In other words, if you think your value lies in pulling cable at the customer’s premises you may be soon looking for a new line of work.
At the show I caught up with Gurmeet Lamba, the VP of Engineering at Clarus Systems, who told me that the company’s automated testing tools now handle end-to-end IP telephony management. A new module called Voice Monitor is a sophisticated rules-based alerting and notification engine.
As Lamba pointed out, “There is no complete list of why things happen,” referring to why IP communications systems occasionally have snafus. He went on to explain how sometimes problems pop up because a technician mis-provisions a system or at least a few components of a system. For this reason the Clarus Systems solution looks for security problems such as malicious calls, toll fraud, excessively long international calls and unencrypted endpoints among other things.
Lamba described how his company empowers unified communications and, as a side note, he explained how the solutions his company sells are “probe-free”.
The New Mitel/Inter-Tel
As you may be aware by now, Mitel recently acquired Inter-Tel and Inter-Tel has become Mitel U.S. under the leadership of CEO Norman Stout. Don Smith will remain the CEO of Mitel. The Mitel 3300 will be the company’s midsize platform going forward and the primary SMB solution will be the Inter-Tel 5000.
The company is working feverishly to allow interoperability between devices, phone systems and applications, as you might imagine.
Mitel feels they have some of the best customer support and service on the market and they all tell me their SMB solutions excel because the company doesn’t look at the SMB space as an unsophisticated market willing to settle for watered-down applications.
In an unexpected twist, the company’s spokesman, Simon Gwatkin, told me they even have a case study of how their phones saved a customer a few watts per seat on a large buy, which led to a more rapid ROI.
I also had a very interesting conversation with William “Duffy” Mich, Chairman and CEO of Aperio CI, regarding iPhone’s adoption in the enterprise. Duffy knows a great deal about these devices as he recently banned them from his office due to the massive amounts of productivity they zapped from his workers.
He explains that the iPhone is extremely unsecure — especially the instant messages, e-mails and websites browsed. Moreover, the iPhone gobbles up business time in various other unproductive ways, making it a big time-waster.
Finally, Duffy mentioned the associated costs for which the iPhone has become infamous, such as the massive phone bills involving Europe — there is no unlimited international plan; the device sends data when off and bills are generally higher than expected.
Other issues worth noting are legal/regulatory in nature and could be a potential pitfall if iPhones are paid for by a company. One big problem is this: if the company pays for the device, the company has to be able to track data transmitted by it in a potentially improper manner. Therefore, all IMs and web pages need to be archived.
Other problems with the iPhone include the sheer physical size of the bill which in some cases has reached hundreds of pages each month because of the detailed way the activities of each phone are logged. Obviously, it would be more sensible to save this data and make it available online — and while we’re on this subject, just exactly how much data needs to be stored anyway? Every web page? Every video? Every GIF? These are some of the questions that must be answered.
Aperio CI sees an opportunity for service providers to generate revenue by helping companies with their archiving needs as they relate to regulatory compliance. There is also an opportunity to set alerts based on spending and or excessive usage. As you may have surmised, this is the area in which Aperio CI plays and the company is actively helping service providers tackle these issues today.
And speaking of service providers, I had a chance to sit down at the show with Bandwidth.com’s CEO Henry Kaestner and learn about their SIP trunking business. The company works with a number of partners from CDW to Fonality and Digium. Kaestner tells me he looks to make it easy to provide wholesale circuits and access lines and has a low 0.6% churn rate.
So what does a voice and data service provider do to grow their business? Expect bandwidth.com to start offering conferencing, hosted IP communications, email, storage and CRM services in the future.
If you are a reseller or hardware manufacturer, you may want to look up this interesting company.
From a service provider we go to a company which enables service providers — I spent some time with Greg Welch, the CEO of Global Touch Telecom who tells me that, aside from VoIP-enabling MDU providers DirectTV and Greenfield Communications, they are also powering a new service called “VoIP for Dummies”. Details are forthcoming.
Greg told me that their average reseller makes 50-70% gross profit. Contrast this to Broadsoft and Sylantro solutions he says that take a big share of the revenue out of a service provider’s pocket.
Thanks again to all of you who continue to make Internet Telephony Conference & Expo the best-attended show in IP Communications. I look forward to personally welcoming you all at our next event in Miami, January 23-25, 2008. You can register at ITEXPO.