Progressive innovation within the telecommunications industry relies on active trends. Those companies who are able to anticipate and embrace these trends tend to enjoy the most success. The most significant trend in this space today is the change in regulations, according to Aelea Christofferson, President of ATL. Christofferson recently participated in a TMCnet interview in anticipation of the upcoming ITEXPO (News - Alert) West 2010 event. When asked about the one product or service needed most in the market, Christofferson pointed to hosted and outsourced options as the economy continues to struggle.
As for unified communications going mainstream, Christofferson noted that it depends on the definition of mainstream. When asked who will win the smartphone or tablet wars, Christofferson pointed to Apple (News - Alert). ATL is now leveraging social media to promote its business and identify opportunities. In the area of mobile video conferencing and chat, Christofferson understands the need, yet doesn’t agree that face-to-face communications should always be replaced. As for wireless networks replaced wired environments, Christofferson believes most companies will opt for a combination of both. As for cloud-based services, ATL is still in the “show-me” stage.
When asked about the net neutrality debate, Christofferson believes the outcome is one of the most important issues for the future of telecom. She thinks the iPad is the most overhyped technology and at the ITEXPO West event, Christofferson will provide information on how to maintain quality in the wake of VoIP proliferation. As for what attendees can take away from this session, Christofferson pointed to the benefit of knowing about an option that ensures toll free traffic is back up in minutes that can product more sales.
The entire conversation follows:
1. What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?
Changes in regulation will drive trends for now. As new services are introduced the uncertainty of how they will be regulated and how much of the weight of fees they will carry will make it difficult to make sound business decisions. Add to that the challenges made to the FCC’s (News - Alert) authority for net neutrality and the industry becomes even more unstable. A few key decisions could change the industry as dramatically as the regulatory controlled opening of the local network in the 1990s. Regulatory decision then fueled the bankruptcy of much of that industry.
2. What is the one product or service the market is most in need of?
Hosted and outsourced options have a window while the economy is struggling. While companies don’t have the money for capital expenditures and are trying to keep their staff level low there are opportunities to give customers what they need from sources outside their office. The key is for these services to provide a level of customer service that ties the customer to them so when finances become more available the customer is convinced the vendor can do a better job than their internal staff.
3. When will unified communications go mainstream?
It depends on the definition of “mainstream.” Unified communications is already being used by Enterprise customers and is beginning to trickle down. If mainstream means heavily used by all sizes of business for a wide range of needs, I think it is still a couple years away.
4. Who will win the smartphone wars? Tablet wars?
I’m certainly not an expert in this field. I actually use a Blackberry which is the one losing most of the market. My best guess is that Apple usually has an appeal to mostly Apple users, so in the end, I think they might lose to the Android. Android is also open source so the apps can keep on coming.
It is rumored that that iPhones will be offered through Verizon (News - Alert). That might tip them to win.
5. Has social media changed how you communicate with customers?
Yes – absolutely. A year ago I didn’t know a tweet from a blog, but now my company heavily uses several social media sites. It’s great to be able to distribute up to date information all at once instead of one call or e-mail at a time. It’s not just my company’s information that can be shared, but the ability to share comments between other companies really enhances discussions.
6. What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?
I think options to travelling are important, but that many companies are not sure what is required to use the technology or comfortable with the quality. Personally I think that in some cases the replacement of face to face contact is not good. I find nothing equals sitting across the table from people, especially in group situations.
7. Some have suggested wireless networking will soon replace wired networks in the enterprise. Do you agree? Why or why not?
A couple of years ago I would have said that that would not happen, but I am becoming a convert. As wireless becomes better quality I see it having too many advantages over wired to ignore. I think most enterprise customers will opt for a combination of both for some time because quality and reliability is still a question.
8. What impact has the growth of cloud-based services had on your business?
We just installed our first IP telephone system last week. I guess I need a little more time before I have a better answer. I consider my views as an end user and I am in the “show me” stage.
9. What do you think of the net neutrality debate?
I think the outcome of the net neutrality debate is one of the most important issues for the future of telecom. As I discussed in question #1, the success of much of the new technology as it applies to telecom will be greatly affected by the net neutrality decision.
10. What is the most overhyped technology in your opinion?
The iPad - it’s a great gadget, but as far as I am concerned, that’s all.
11. You are speaking at ITEXPO West 2010. What is your session about?
I am speaking on Monday at 1:15 in the Is VoIP a Victim of its Own Success? Maintaining Quality in the Wake of VoIP Proliferation. I will be talking about end to end recovery for toll free traffic. There is still a lack of trust by many companies in VoIP technology. Prospective customers are looking for assurances. I will be explaining a fast inexpensive way for customers to be ensured that their toll free traffic is safe.
12. What will attendees take away from your session?
There are a lot of disaster recovery options, but only one can provide disaster recovery on the callers end. What good does it do an insurance company with VoIP service to have a huge investment in disaster recovery for their building if the disaster is where their clients are? There is an option that can ensure toll free traffic is back up in minutes and that can produce more sales.
To see the video, click here or watch below:
To find out more about ATL, 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. Aelea Christofferson is speaking during “Is VoIP a Victim of its Own Success? Maintaining Quality in the Wake of VoIP Proliferation (SP-03).” 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 Erin Monda