The ITEXPO (News - Alert) West 2011 show in Austin, Texas will host hundreds of thought leaders and executives from all over the world who will meet to get up-to-date on the latest developments in communications technology including what’s new in the M2M, 4G, and cloud communications space.
TMC’s CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) recently interviewed Wes Durow, CMO for Fonality, a supplier of cloud telephony and unified communications solutions, about the communication industry’s most recent developments, and how Fonality (News - Alert) has contributed to such developments.
Durow’s team has exhibited at ITEXPO West and East for some time now, and this year’s Austin show will be no different. Displaying its innovative and forward-thinking VoIP and cloud telephony solutions, Fonality has always had extraordinary developments to introduce. This year, Eric Borrmann from the company will be speaking during the “Bringing the Social Experience into the Business Context” session on Thursday, Sept. 15, at noon. Read on to see what Durow and Tehrani discussed regarding the future of VoIP.
RT: How has your market segment evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those changes?
WD: The interest in cloud VoIP and Unified Communications (News - Alert) solutions continues to accelerate rapidly. As a proof point, we have seen our average deal size more than double in the past six months as adoption migrates from SOHO-type deployments squarely into the small- and mid-size business segment.
RT: What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business?
WD: The evolution of social networks will reset how businesses communicate internally and externally. While technology and communications trends like VoIP, SIP social media and mobility have all expanded the modality and quantity of communications, it will be social networks that transform and prioritize the relevance and resonance of those communications. How companies begin to blend social networks with established UC, contact center features like skills-based routing or CRM type information represents a unique opportunity to strengthen customer relationships.
RT: How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?
WD: Fonality has pioneered the cloud VoIP and UC model, and to stay current we offer micro-releases every two weeks to ensure our customers have the most current offering possible. To do so, we have transitioned from a “waterfall” development process to a “scrum” development process and we have reset our QA and beta-testing process to incorporate real-time feedback and requirements. Overall, it has simplified the process as we are not straddled by the big two to three times a year “mega release” process that legacy vendors have institutionalized.
RT: What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?
WD: Customers expect to have the same tools and resources available to them outside the office as they do at their desk. We are at a tipping point where software development starts with the mobile platform first and then moves to a PC/Mac environment. Traditionally, Unified Communications have only unified those communications you can see on your computer – that model is outdated and that is why Fonality has pushed to bring dynamic UC and contact center features to iPhone and Android platforms. From a development standpoint, this shift has necessitated even greater focus on building simple, intuitive user interfaces.
RT: How is the continued growth of social media changing service and product development strategies?
WD: The inoculation of social media (and even more so, social networks) into the fabric of commerce has required companies to be almost instantly responsive to service requests and wholly transparent as to their operational processes. From a product development perspective, the expectation of companies to add desired features and ensure rigorous QA testing is front and center – all while delivering innovation at break-neck speed becomes the new norm. The good news is that companies no longer need to do an extensive series of focus groups to understand what their customers/prospects think – it is all available in real-time via social media today.
RT: Will Google+ become bigger than Facebook and Twitter? Why or why not?
WD: It is too early to tell, but Google (News - Alert)+ seems to have addressed foundational privacy and ease of use challenges that have plagued Facebook and Twitter, as well as previous social media efforts by Google. Adding context of communications via “circles” has helped to generate “fans” quickly. The level of Google’s integration of Google+ into other Google products, such as Google Voice and Gmail, will be an important measuring stick as to Google+’s long term viability.
RT: As businesses continue their move toward virtual workforces, how are you meeting the need for increased mobility? What barriers are keeping others from adopting mobile strategies?
WD: As a cloud-based solution provider, Fonality leverages readily available cloud-based business applications in our own operating environment. In doing so, it enables our employees to access tools and resources simply and effectively regardless of location or mode of access (e.g. office, hotel, smartphone). This approach really optimizes productivity while eliminating unneeded cost and complexity.
RT: How do you see the mobile operating system war (iPhone vs. Android vs. RIM vs. WM7) playing out?
WD: This market changes so fast it is hard to declare a winner. Just a couple of years ago the Motorola Razr and the Blackberry were the ‘must have’ devices. Today, the iPhone ignited a whole new type of smartphone and now Android has taken the momentum and built on top of it. The dark horse is WM7 and I believe their deal with Nokia could be a great equalizer for both firms. Clearly, the platform with the most robust set of commercial applications will have a big advantage.
RT: Is HTML5 the game changer many predict it will be?
WD: HTML5 has generated a lot of excitement in the developer community. That said, the specs have just solidified and HTML5 capable browsers have only recently begun shipping. The next six months will determine how much of the excitement translates to palpable momentum.
RT: What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?
WD: Having ITEXPO West move to Austin will likely change the focus a bit as that region has unique and strong technology community. How far end user attendees push the envelope specific to all of the macro trends such as desktop virtualization, mobility and hosted solutions will be what I am most interested in learning.
RT: What issues will you be addressing during your ITEXPO session and why should attendees be sure to attend?
WD: Our focus is on growing companies, those small and mid-size (SMB) firms that seek to leverage technology to transform their business model. Fonality will specifically address how mobility tools and platforms are driving the next evolution of cloud-based collaboration and communication tools.
Almost a third of SMB employees regularly work outside the office, but historically have not had access to the tools and resources of those who are in the office. By leveraging a cloud-based model, these resources are now available in a manner that is easy to use, simple to manage and affordable to deploy. As such, SMBs can have access to the same Unified Communications type tools as a Fortune 500 company, but at literally half the expense or complexity of a legacy model.
Check out the video below for an interview between Tehrani and Dean Mansfield, president of CEO of Fonality.
To find out more about Fonality, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2011. To be held Sept. 13-15 in Austin, Texas, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Fonality in booth 701. Don’t wait. Register now.
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Juliana Kenny graduated from the University of Connecticut with a double degree in English and French. After managing a small company for two years, she joined TMC as a Web Editor for TMCnet. Juliana currently focuses on the call center and CRM industries, but she also writes about cloud telephony and network gear including softswitches.
Edited by Tammy Wolf