SIP Print, a company designing and manufacturing affordable telephony applications for today’s IP-PBX (News - Alert) systems for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), will be showcasing its voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) voice recording solutions at Technology Marketing Corporation’s INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & Expo East 2009 held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida, February 2nd - 4th.
Don Palmer, president of SIP Print, discussed with TMC’s (News - Alert) President, Rich Tehrani, his view on the economy and the future of IP and VoIP communications.
RT: Are you generally optimistic, pessimistic or realistic?
DP: As a serial entrepreneur I’d have to say I’m a very optimistic person with a healthy dose of realism. Honestly I’m not sure there’s much of a place in the business world for pessimists.
RT: How many frequent flyer miles have you amassed?
DP: About 100,000. I try to keep my balance manageable and use them up whenever I can. I’m fairly pessimistic that these programs will be around for too much longer so I’m trying not to get stuck with a million miles in my account when airlines shut them down.
RT: How surprised are you at the global financial situation?
DP: Stunned. We’ve been hearing from many years that we are becoming one big global economy, but these events have certainly demonstrated that this is now a reality. It’s really hard to fathom that some mortgage defaults in Iowa or Texas could ultimately result in companies in China to shutting their doors and mass layoffs in Scandinavia.
RT: How is your company changing the way it does business as a result?
DP: Our approach is to be a little more conservative with our cash, and to be a little more aggressive with our sales and marketing. Many firms make the mistake of cutting back on these areas in a recession, but I believe a down economy is the best time to quickly gain some market share.
RT: How have customers reacted to the slowing global markets?
DP: So far the impact has been minimal on our pipeline. SMBs are continuing to purchase VoIP phone systems if the business case is there for them, and our VoIP call recording appliances are a natural and oftentimes necessary add-on to those sales.
RT: Do you see this time as an opportunity or a rough spot to get through quickly?
DP: Certainly it’s an opportunity to revisit business plans and operations plans and to look for efficiencies where they exist. As I mentioned though, a recessionary market is usually the best time to ramp up marketing activities and aggressively pursue market share gains since many companies tend to completely hunker down at these times.
RT: What will companies need to do to survive this downturn?
DP: In a nutshell, you need to work even harder and smarter than you did before, and be very aggressive with sales, marketing, PR and business development. Also, keep in mind that almost everything is cheaper now than it was 6-9 months ago, so now is a great time to pick up the things (people, equipment, real estate, inventory, etc.) you really need.
RT: How do your company’s products help customers in a slow market?
DP: The companies that typically survive a downturn like this are the ones that pay extraordinary attention to quality and customer service and make a name for themselves in those arenas. Our VoIP call recording solutions are ideal for recording phone calls for quality and training purposes, and there’s no better time than a slowdown to implement a new technology like ours and integrate it with your strategies and operations.
RT: What do you feel is the strongest segment of the communications space? Technology?
DP: Mobile and VoIP continue to be very hot, with no sign of slowing. In terms of technology overall I would have to say Mobile and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)).
RT: Which would you rather be president of and why? Google, Yahoo, Microsoft (News - Alert), Cisco, the United States.
DP: While the money isn’t that good, I think president of the U.S. seems like a pretty good gig these days. Talk about a job with nothing but upside.
RT: What does President Bush need to accomplish before he leaves office?
DP: Can he fire Barney Frank and Chris Dodd? Well at this stage probably nothing can be accomplished but I wished he would have not authorized the bailout packages. I think it will all rest on small business in the end and the consumers. Every business should have a chance to be successful or fail on their own merit.
RT: What does an Obama administration need to do to help communications and technology become more pervasive?
DP: I’m not sure if communications and technology could become more pervasive – at least in most urban areas. Every 10-year old has a mobile phone and every minivan has a DVD player… what else could you want? There is no question however, that the people and small businesses at the lower end of the spectrum are not able to enjoy new technologies like the rest of us, and it continues to create a wider and wider digital divide. For one thing, Obama should consider new incentive programs for small businesses to invest in the technologies that can truly have an impact on making these firms more competitive in the global economy.
RT: Will this slowdown present an opportunity to reinvest in your company/market? If so, where will you invest?
DP: We continue to invest in R&D and marketing, and in ’09 we will be investing more in the service provider segment. We’ll be announcing new VoIP call recording products for this market in Q1.
RT: Which country will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10?
DP: The U.S. will continue to be our biggest opportunity.
RT: What device(s) do you use and wish you used?
DP: I use my cell phone a ton - who doesn't. I make really good use of all its features and capabilities, except Internet browsing. Generally I find it an exercise in frustration to try to find content and then actually be able to read it. Maybe I’m doing something wrong.
RT: If Nokia (News - Alert), RIM, Google and Apple devices are stranded together on an island, who survives and why?
DP: Google. Those guys have managed to turn a not-so-sexy search engine into one of the omnipotent global technology powerhouses ever built. Google has the brains and the brawn to outshine just about every other company.
RT: I understand you are exhibiting at ITEXPO which takes place Feb 2-4 2009 in Miami. What will you be showing there?
DP: We’ll be exhibiting our award-winning VoIP call recording appliances at the show. We’ve made some pretty exciting improvements to our platform and we’ll be showing all that and more.
RT: What sorts of companies/people should come to your exhibit?
DP: We’re aggressively expanding our channel right now, so resellers and distributors who are aggressively targeting the VoIP space and the SMB market should stop by and visit. Of course, end-users and potential partners would be great as well.
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions – and how do they justify the expense to management?
DP: SIP Print is first-to-market with a VoIP call recording platform for the SMB. Our products are about one-third the cost of other systems, so smaller organizations finally have the opportunity to purchase a call recording solution at a price that is in line with their underlying phone system. In many cases these organizations are bound by regulatory or compliance requirements to record some or all their calls, so an affordable solution is easily justified. In other cases, the QA, customer service and training benefits provide a simple business case for the purchase.
RT: I am a purchasing decision-maker, why do I need to speak with you before I buy?
DP: SIP Print’s call recording solutions are priced at one-third the cost of alternative solutions. What’s more, our products are designed from the ground up for today’s SIP-based VoIP phone systems, unlike all other options which are legacy TDM-based recording systems that have been retrofitted to work with VoIP systems.
RT: What is your favorite part of your job?
DP: The sales aspect of this job is definitely my favorite. It’s truly a pleasure to present a solid business solution to a problem that many organizations are facing, and to offer that solution at a price that puts a smile on just about everyone’s face.
RT: What do you look forward to in the future and why?
DP: I look forward to the day when every SMB and every reseller serving the SMB market is familiar with SIP Print. Until that day, I guess I have to keep talking.
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.
Edited by Michelle Robart