Trends in communications change at a constant pace and those companies who are able to anticipate and embrace new trends generally find the most success. According to Barry Sher (News - Alert), vice president of Business Development with IVR Technologies, Inc., the most significant trend in communications today is the growing number of service providers offering a full suite of consumer and business VoIP services through the cloud. As for the product or service most needed in the market, Sher notes the importance of more intelligent and automated approaches in presence and location-based services.
Sher recently participated in an interview with TMC’s Rich Tehrani (News - Alert); their full conversation is provided below. When asked when he believes Unified Communications will go mainstream, Sher said the cloud is the key. As for the smartphone/tablet wars, Sher believes it will always be a multi-horse race between Apple, BlackBerry, Android and Windows. In the social media space, he highlighted that LinkedIn and Facebook are helping to create intimate involvement between a business and its customers and believes HD voice will take off much like HD TV has in the broader space. Mobile video and conferencing are posted for fast growth and Sher believes the tight race with continue in wireless operating systems.
Sher was quick to highlight the strengths of wired networks, although acknowledged wireless has a place and advantages of its own. The growth of cloud-based services has had a significant impact on business for IVR Technologies and Sher believes the net neutrality debate is important and has strong opinions as to what he will and will not support. As for the most overhyped technology, Sher pointed to cloud computing. In his ITEXPO West 2010 presentation, Sher will touch on how the next-generation service provider can drive revenue, build margins and attract its subscriber base. As for his 2011 prediction, he anticipates widespread tablet computing.
Their conversation is provided below:
What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?
We see a growing number of service providers now offering a full suite of consumer and business VoIP services via the cloud.
There are many compelling reasons driving this migration and services adoption such as zero CAPEX, lower OPEX, no long term contracts/commitments and reduced administrative overhead since the infrastructure and services are managed for the provider.
What is the one product or service the market is most in need of?
A critical market driver is the need for presence based communication services and location based services that stand to offer a more intelligent and automated approach to how we communicate today.
When will unified communications go mainstream?
Deploying a facilities-based UC solution across a multi-site business is complicated and capital intensive and so today for large corporate and mid-market size systems, I think the move is underway.
However, for systems that serve fewer than 100 users, and down into key systems with fewer than 30 users, I do not think it will go mainstream until these services can be offered in the cloud.
Who will win the smartphone wars? Tablet wars?
I think it is and will always be a multi-horse race divided by ideology and allegiances so Apple, Blackberry, Android and Windows will all share in the market. In regards to tablets, Apple owns this market as the only viable offering today but by the end of the year we will see tablets released running Blackberry, Android, WebOS and some variant of Windows and they will all co-exist splitting market share and appealing to different consumers and enterprises.
Has social media changed how you communicate with customers?
LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are great tools for keeping customers informed and more intimately involved in the business. They also serve as great conduits for sharing information as well as for educating and supporting both prospects and customers.
Nearly every phone manufacturer is now incorporating support for wideband codecs.
Will we finally see widespread HD voice deployments in 2011?IVR Technologies was one of the first application server companies to adopt HD voice and incorporate it across all of our services such as HD conferencing, HD PBX (News - Alert), HD call center and HD calling.
The HD quality is a game changer and as more and more communications travel across an all IP network and with broader support at the gateway level the adoption rate of it will sky rocket much like HD TV has.
What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?
Mobile video and conferencing are poised for fast growth and as a profit center as they represent high value and in-demand applications that will drive carrier revenue’s through bandwidth consumption and the need for consumers to purchase data plans. We see monthly subscription plans as a possibility for monetizing conferencing and a key driver for the uptake of the service is both a browser and desktop integration.
Which wireless operating system (Android, iOS4, Microsoft, etc) will see the greatest success over the next three years? Why?
Again this is multi-horse race with each platform appealing to a certain market segments. Android will have success based its open source nature as well as how widespread across multiple hardware vendors but it will be hamstrung by multiple versions, vendor specific customizations/UIs and the associated compatibility issues that make it very challenging for developers.
Blackberry is well entrenched in the enterprise and it will be difficult for new entrants to displace them but RIM will continue to be challenged in the consumer market with releases like the Torch 9800 that seems out of date even before they are released.
Apple has an amazing ecosystem and development community with a uniform and simple user experience that consumers find very compelling but they frustrate developers with their capricious approval process and their tight control over the platform.
Microsoft is definitely playing catch-up in the smartphone market, despite being one of the first entrants in this space, so we wait with baited anticipation on Windows 7 Mobile release as its open development environment appeals to the enterprise and developer community.
Some have suggested wireless networking will soon replace wired networks in the enterprise. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Wired networks are less susceptible to hacking and interference and are able to achieve higher bandwidth than wireless networks so depending on application and location wired networks will continue to have a place in the enterprise but in existing facilities and where wireless performance exceeds network requirements wireless networks will have a place and offer a time and cost advantage.
What impact has the growth of cloud-based services had on your business?
In May of this year IVR Technologies virtualized its Talking SIP (News - Alert) platform in the Amazon EC2 cloud in order to offer the next-generation service provider a way to reduce CAPEX, OPEX as well as achieve a time-to-market advantage while reducing their administrative overhead.
This initiative further highlights our leadership in the market and the flexibility of our solution that allows it to be easily deployed in multiple configurations as well as physical and virtual environments.
What do you think of the Net neutrality debate?
Tiered pricing is necessary to help fund capacity increases and to help manage usage especially with TV and video streaming becoming more popular (Hulu (News - Alert), Netflix) and with 3D TV/video coming down the “pipe”.
As long as the consumer achieves full disclosure in regards to their Internet service’s performance, bandwidth and caps then I have no problem with the tiered model (buy what you need and can afford) but pipe providers should never be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful internet content. In addition, I don’t support two Internet pipes we should be building and increasing bandwidth and network efficiencies on one global, publically accessible and open Internet.
What is the most overhyped technology in your opinion?
I think today’s most overhyped technology is Cloud Computing.
Cloud computing has tremendous benefit in capital intensive and complex areas like telephony and grid computing but other areas where the cloud and user are separated by poor or fragile connectivity it really has little or no merit (e.g. regular computing tasks like word processing and spreadsheets) -- where users run the risk of being disconnected from their personal data especially when they are connecting via a very capable computing device with ample local resources.
You are speaking at ITEXPO West 2010. What is your session about?
The session will be on the topic of how a next-generation service provider can drive revenue, build margins and attract/retain its subscriber base.
What will attendees take away from your session?
They will come away with a solid understanding of the latest in-demand applications and what they should do to drive revenue, increase profitability and build customer loyalty. We will also discuss industry trends and their potential impact for the carrier and service provider.
Please make a bold technology prediction for 2011.
I predict that in 2011 tablet computing will become widespread as people realize that the tablet is the perfect device for casual computing as it satisfies over 80% of their regular day-to-day computing needs.
To find out more about IVR Technologies, Inc., visit the company at ITEXPO West 2010. To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit IVR Technologies in booth #231. Don’t wait. Register now.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi