Retail services is the strongest segment of the communications industry, an official with a Los Angeles-based software development company that provides a fully integrated application, media and billing server to next-generation networks told TMCnet in an interview today.
According to Barry Sher (News - Alert), vice president of business development at IVR Technologies, Inc., carriers seeking to navigate this down economy can’t rely solely on wholesale origination and termination because “the margins have worn too thin and the competition is too great, especially with connection-less and temporal SIP trunking gaining in popularity.”
“Carriers must add high margin and in-demand applications that can drive revenues to their networks, allow them to differentiate their services and help to reduce their customer churn,” Sher told TMC President Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) in an interview, printed in full below.
During the interview, Sher – who will be participating during ITEXPO West in September in a talk about HD Voice – also said that Latin America and the EMEA region will see the strongest growth in IVR in the near future.
Their exchange follows.
Rich Tehrani: What has the economic crisis taught you, and how has it changed your customers?
Barry Sher (pictured left): The economic crisis has taught us to be more sensitive to our customer’s cash flow challenges and their need for flexible and creative financing terms. IVR Technologies, Inc. is in a unique position to be able to finance customers in-house so we can custom tailor the financing terms and conditions to fit their specific requirements.
As a result of our ability to finance our customers’ purchases with flexible and creative terms and conditions we are able to help our customers modernize their networks with revenue generating and profit driving applications that help them further overcome their financial challenges by growing their market share.
RT: How is this down economy affecting your decisions to reinvest in your company or market, if at all? Where will you invest?
BS: As a debt-free company with a favorable cash position, IVR Technologies, Inc. is in a fortunate position to be able to aggressively invest in our business during this economic downturn in the areas of product development, internal systems automation and enhanced marketing initiatives.
RT: What’s the strongest segment in the communications industry?
BS: We see the retail services as the strongest segment of the communications industry. In these challenging and highly competitive times carriers can no long live on just wholesale origination and termination as the margins have worn too thin and the competition is too great, especially with connection-less and temporal SIP trunking gaining in popularity. Carriers must add high margin and in-demand applications that can drive revenues to their networks, allow them to differentiate their services and help to reduce their customer churn.
RT: With the rise of smartphones and netbooks, many wireless technologies, such as WiFi (News - Alert), appear to be poised for rapid growth. For example, we’re seeing more and more airlines add in-flight WiFi. In general, how widespread should WiFi be, in your view?
BS: WiFi should be accessible as broadly and as widely as possible and for as little as possible. We hope that government stimulus funds helps municipal WiFi initiatives, especially in rural areas as we feel the Internet helps empower citizens and can serve as an economic driver. We see availability and accessibility adding to the speed of business as well as growing public awareness and empowering citizens in the areas of media, news/information dissemination, disaster notification, community events, commerce, and social networking.
RT: Which nation or region of the world will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10?
BS: While North America has remained a very strong market for IVR Technologies, Inc. we also see our market share growing substantially in Latin American and EMEA.
RT: In what ways is President Barack Obama helping or hindering the technology markets? What more can he do?
BS: The stimulus funds have helped the technology markets by providing much needed funding to under serviced, disaster related and depressed markets to rebuild themselves and help drive opportunity for the equipment and service markets. While government involvement is not always timely nor seamless it often provides funds to certain regions that would normally be ignored by the free market.
RT: What device or devices do you use, and what do you wish you used?
BS: The main devices that I use every day to conduct business are IVR’s Talking SIP (News - Alert) platform, my iPhone, an IP-based SIP phone and WebEx.
RT: What has the iPhone 3G taught us? I know it’s very new, but what about the Palm Pre? What are we learning from the smartphones based on the open source Google Android (News - Alert) platform?
BS: Smartphones such as the iPhone which I am partial too, have provided me with access and capabilities that I can no longer live without. I am tied to my smartphone for such activities as: managing IM and e-mail messages; initiating and participating in WebEx conferences; searching our Oracle CRM system for sales information; making International SIP calls, and staying in touch with family and friends on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. The iPhone’s high level SDK and centralized App store provides developers with the opportunity to focus all of their efforts on the application rather than the distribution channel resulting in greater utility and benefit for the end user on a device that provides Internet PC functionality in the palm of your hand.
The current smartphone offerings have shown us that the market has an insatiable appetite for these powerful and connected devices and that developers are not necessarily looking for open source but rather a development environment that is readily available, easy to use, and well-documented with a centralized app store.
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO West, to be held Sept. 1 to 3 in Los Angeles. Describe your talk and tell us what companies or people should attend.
BS: I will be part of a panelist discussion regarding HD Voice. Our HD Voice focus here at IVR Technologies, Inc. is in the area of applications. By being one of the first enhanced services platforms to support HD Voice we are helping our customers differentiate themselves from their competition through a richer and fuller voice experience. Companies who are interested in learning more about how to differentiate their services from the competition and build higher margins should definitely attend.
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions? How do they justify the expense to management?
BS: IVR Technologies, Inc. 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 resulting in a very quick return on investment.
Through a consolidated network architecture, in-demand and innovative applications, and a scalable/extensible architecture we can help companies modernize their networks, capitalize on the efficiencies of a SIP-based network, differentiate themselves from their competition, drive revenue and margin to their networks and ensure their investment is future-protected through continual innovation and development of best-in-class applications/services.
Learn more about IVR Technologies Inc.. at ITEXPO West — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Don’t wait. Register now!
Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan