No one knows just when this slower economy will turn around, or just how it will affect IT markets.
Since what many economists are calling the “financial crisis” hit, bottom-line performances among IT companies have been mixed, with Texas Instruments and Tellabs reporting third-quarter losses, while Apple Inc. and Sangoma Technologies Corporation have posted recent gains.
Despite economic downturns, hi-tech market research firms are forecasting upswings in many segments, including fixed-mobile convergence equipment, digital signage and mobile operators’ infrastructure.
One thing that’s consistent in boardrooms across the IT market and beyond, is that executives are seeking to leverage technology to cut costs and boost production.
For Matthew J. Phillips, chief executive officer of SinglePipe Communications – a VoIP-based communications solutions provider headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky – hosted voice services are emerging as a flexible option.
SinglePipe is a facilities-based provider of wholesale digital phone services to residential and business VoIP customers, through broadband service providers including cable operators, Internet service providers and competitive local exchange carriers. An IT industry veteran, Phillips came to SinglePipe following 15 years, including time as a regional vice president at Level 3, vice president of engineering and construction for ACSI Technologies and senior vice president of engineering and operations for Global Metro Networks.
TMCnet interviewed Phillips about his company’s outlook in this economy and the telecom space in general.
He told us that he’s expecting to see faster adoption of unified platforms, and that, if things continue the way they are, the IT space is bound to see some consolidation in the form of mergers and acquisitions.
Our exchange follows.
TMCnet: Many businesses and an increasing number of residential subscribers embrace VoIP services for cost-savings. What value proposition is SinglePipe bringing to current and potential customers?
Matt Phillips: Cost-savings is only part of value proposition. For the business subscriber, the real value is in improving how they do business. We provide a managed communications service with the features and functionality to make them more efficient in how they communicate internally, as well as with their customers. SinglePipe will continue to use its own carrier-grade call switching and feature delivery platform to deliver unified communications to both the residential and business customer. We will look for opportunities to deliver other applications integrated with our voice platform that enhance how customers communicate.
TMCnet: TMCnet’s own Gary Kim (News - Alert) wrote here about the value that hosted providers of any kind may bring to SMBs in this economy. What affect is this slower economy having on SinglePipe’s short-term goals, if any?
MP: We have not seen any direct impact on our business just yet, but we expect that we will see decision cycles of businesses slow down if things continue on their current course. At the same time, I think that during unstable economic times like these, businesses become more creative and need the flexibility and productivity that hosted services bring to the table. Hosted voice services allow an enterprise to grow, or contract one employee at a time, without expending or wasting capital on a PBX (News - Alert) or phone system. SinglePipe and its wholesale partners empower businesses with a communications product that does not tie its employees to a desk in order to communicate, and at the same time lowers operating expenses. This economy will drive faster development and adoption of unified platforms and application mash-ups with voice platforms to generate efficiencies for the customer and sustain growth.
TMCnet: How has the company’s outlook changed since, say, the start of the third quarter on July 1?
MP: In all honesty, we have not changed our outlook at all. The adoption of VoIP will continue to grow across both the residential and business markets. The base value proposition for managed VoIP is, without question, even more compelling. I do think that we will see some of the smaller VoIP companies struggle to grow with the limited debt and capital markets, and as a result, we will see an increase in mergers and acquisitions within the industry. The markets have created a unique opportunity for a few of the more stable companies to assume a position of leadership, within the industry, through consolidation.
TMCnet: We hear a lot these days about leveraging technology to cut costs and boost production. What kinds of things are the leaders of digital phone services companies doing to navigate this economy?
MP: As I mentioned, we will see increased consolidation in the digital phone services industry. In addition, we will also witness the increased integration of voice platforms with other applications that enhance the way people communicate.
TMCnet: What does SinglePipe see as the key or keys to a successful rollout in the cable or multi-system operator marketplace?
MP: The key to a successful rollout for a cable or multi-system operator is creating a true partnership, and understanding their business and the marketplace in which they operate. First and foremost, you must be able to provide coverage for all – or the vast majority – of their markets. Secondly, you must have the means to integrate into their existing provisioning, support and billing platforms so that the voice product can be supported with limited costs. Finally, it is essential that the digital phone service provider continue to work with its cable partners, after initial implementation, to ensure that there is a formal product roadmap in place that will allow them to continue delivering value-added features and products to both the residential and business markets.
Cable operators need to be positioned as pioneers in delivering voice and unified communication services to their residential and business customers in both the short and long-term. In addition, and most importantly, they will need a reliable partner who has the network, team and vision to give them that capability.
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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