Among the chief concerns of nearly every communications industry player heading into 2009 was how they would handle a down economy. Certainly, there were some casualties, but by and large, the industry fared better than any other, with VoIP deployments continuing to rise, and new products and enhancements to existing ones defying the downturn.
Hosted VoIP provider 8x8 (News
) had, by all accounts, as successful a year as it could have hoped, including moving into its new corporate headquarters building at 810 W. Maude Avenue in Sunnyvale, California.
Much of 8x8’s growth came from its traditional SMB market, but as vice president of business development Huw Rees told me at the grand opening ceremony, interest from government entities and large enterprises has increased significantly.
“They have been watching from the sidelines and realize there are real advantages, not the least of which is cost savings, but also mobility, flexibility, ease of use and management,” Rees said. “Over the past two years, the industry has really improved what were once detrimental attributes – quality, reliability and security – to a massive extent.”
Heading towards ITEXPO (News
) in Miami, where Rees will be presenting at two conference sessions, I took a few moments to ask for his thoughts on some of the topics that will be highlighted at the show. His sessions include: Addressing the Challenges of Hosted IP PBX in the Large Enterprise, on Wed., Jan. 20, 2010, 10:00 am, and HD vs. SD: Can you please spell that phonetically? on Thurs., Jan. 21, 2010, 1:00 pm.
Erik Linask (News - Alert): What are your reflections of 2009, at best, a challenging year for most businesses, yet one that brought success to many in the telecom industry?
Huw Rees: The past year, 2009, was a great one for VoIP – Pretty much all of the old perceptions of quality issues or deployment problems disappeared and more businesses than ever began to deploy VoIP solutions. For 8x8, it was a year of consolidating our position as a leader supplying hosted PBX to the SMB market with an expansion into medium and large enterprise accounts. Additionally, we released new products and services, such as Virtual Meeting, to broaden our offerings beyond simply voice.
EL: What is/are the most significant trend(s) to come out of 2009 that will drive the IP Communications space into the next decade?
HR: The acceleration of the move to UC for all sizes of business and the gradual move to mobile VoIP services using Wi-Fi and 3G.
EL: Will 2010 be the year HD audio takes off? If not, when?
EL: How do you view the impact of the growth of the open source community on the overall communications industry?
HR: Although 8x8 is not directly involved in the open source community for hosted PBX services, we view these solutions as helping to expand the overall market for VoIP by increasing awareness and enabling new applications to be envisioned as well as potentially providing 8x8 with new VoIP trunking customers.
EL: How will your company build on the momentum of the past decade to continue on a growth path into 2010 and beyond? What new and innovative products are in store for your customers?
We are accelerating our product development schedules and we have already released beta versions of our iPhone application for hosted PBX and a new “call me” application called 8x8 Connect on Facebook (News
). Throughout 2010 and beyond, we will be investing additional R&D in a complete hosted UC solution and more integration with mobile, such as Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G.
EL: What is the most important reason your booth is a “must visit” for ITEXPO attendees?
HR: We plan on unveiling our hosted UC solution in addition to all the services mentioned above.
EL: What are you looking forward to most at ITEXPO East 2010?
Looking at the latest products and services in the industry, talking to old friends and making new ones – it’s a small world in Internet Telephony (News
) – and enjoying winter in South Beach!
EL: What is the one product you are hoping to see from the communications industry in 2010?
HR: Larger scale 4G deployments.
Erik Linask is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Kelly McGuire