Communications service providers today continue to face challenges in a competitive market where business models and technologies change rapidly. To succeed, companies must be nimble in respond to these changes and ultimately in out-performing their competitors when it comes to understanding and serving the needs of customers.
One company that’s taking a proactive approach to serving this market is IVR Technologies, which specializes in real-time billing and SIP server solutions for next generation PBX (News - Alert) providers.
I caught up with Barry Sher, vice president of business development at IVR Technologies, to get his perspective on the market and find out about the company’s current initiatives. Sher will be at ITEXPO (News - Alert) West next month, speaking at the “Applications as a Competitive Differentiator” session on September 17.
RT: What was your company’s biggest achievement in 2008 so far?
Sher: IVR Technologies’ is focused on providing innovative enhanced services and real-time billing solutions to next generation service providers that serve to help build profit margin and revenue while attracting and retaining the subscriber base. Our primary goal is to develop applications that greatly differentiate the new SIP-based communication networks from that of the legacy PSTN.
In 2008 we have taken aim at the mobile and desktop market by releasing seamlessly integrated applications that run on BlackBerry, Windows Mobile 6, Microsoft Outlook and Apple (News - Alert) iPhones. Through these applications users can easily trigger International calls that circumvent the mobile network and instead utilize more cost effective third party service provider networks.
RT: What can we expect to see from your IVR Technologies during the next 12 months?
Sher: The next 12 months will bring improved user empowerment from the Web for full consumer and business communication services and account self management. This, combined with our back-office automation initiatives, will help drive more efficient and profitable network operations.
RT: How do you see the communications market evolving?
Sher: With market research firms such as In-Stat forecasting VoIP origination and termination revenues having a CAGR of 30 percent through 2010 and iLocus reporting that last year saw more than a trillion minutes of VoIP traffic carried by service providers worldwide, people are no longer wondering if Voice over IP will take off — it already has. As consumers becomes more educated about VoIP and technology providers do a better job of developing applications that take into consideration the advances that SIP provides, then and only then will the consumer start to see the benefits of a next-generation networks in the form of presence-based and fully converged applications.
RT: What company do you think made the biggest contribution to communications this year?
Sher: Apple has made a significant contribution by delivering a device that combines mobile services, music, video and a full Web browser in a sleek and functional form factor. Apple has opened up the iPhone to third party developers where we are already seeing creative and useful applications being delivered at free or nominal costs.
RT: How have Google (News - Alert) and Apple changed the communications market?
Sher: We see this as further affirmation of the opportunity that revolves around both SIP and VoIP. These major market players have great potential for converged devices that bring together all types of media such as video, voice, and presence. With Google incorporating click-to-call functionality in its search results and Apple producing converged media devices such as the iPhone, there is great opportunity for service providers.
RT: What mobile phone(s) do you use?
Sher: We develop solutions for platforms that are most commonly used by business and high-end consumers. The platforms we support today include BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and iPhone.
RT: Who will win in an Apple/Research in Motion (News - Alert) (RIM) war?
Sher: Apple has already shown that it can build a better device for both the business and high-end consumer market. The Apple iPhone is appealing in its size, applications, interface, device responsiveness and now its competitive price point. With each new release Apple seems to get more and more right and is thus poised to take the lead in the mobile market.
RT: What do you think the communications market might look like in five years?
Sher: U.K.-based Informa Telecoms and Media forecasts, within the next five years VoIP will drain $100 billion from carriers PSTN revenues. This indicates a huge shift away from legacy PSTN to VoIP and next-generation networks. This shift, coupled with new applications that are making their way to market, will further tip the scales in favor of VoIP.
RT: What will attendees learn about in your session at ITEXPO West this September?
Sher: The presentation we have prepared focuses on consumer needs and how we can do a better job of reaching the consumer and satisfying their needs — resulting in new revenue opportunities and greater market share.
RT: What type of attendees do you think should come to your session?
Sher: If you are interested in learning about ways to drive high margin revenue, attract and retain subscribers, and manage the network, then you are surely not going to want to miss this presentation.
RT: Why should customers choose IVR Technologies’ solutions?
Sher: IVR Technologies is the leading provider of enhanced services and fully-integrated real-time billing that drives revenue to the network, reduces customer churn through robust, feature-rich and online managed applications, and has one of the fastest turn-up times and lowest administration overheads in the industry. We believe in innovation that exploits the benefits of SIP and the ubiquity of the Internet in order to make communications more efficient and productive.
RT: Please make one surprising prediction for 2009.
Sher: 2009 will be about convergence, control and presence, with subscribers having the ability to use a single device across disparate networks and being empowered to control when and how they communicate. Subscribers will also gain the ability to broadcast their availability and monitor others’ availability to determine how best to communicate.
To learn more about the topics and solutions described in this article, please visit the PBX, Billing and SIP Server channels on TMCnet.com, brought to you by IVR Technologies.
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Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world’s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.