As I reported in this space earlier this year, Suzanne Bowen, CEO of DIDX, has been focused on extending the ways in which her company continues to grow, even in a tepid economy, as they continue to introduce new clients and partners into DID/DDI space.
Bowen recently discussed here how DIDX has gone to great lengths to educate about the benefits and evolution of the Direct Inward Dialing (DID) and DDI and how they are used with customers' PBX (News - Alert) systems.
Below is an Interview Bowen recently conducted with Frank Jantz, an early adopter of VoIP and a hobby journalist.
FJ: What is your interpretation of change in today's rapidly changing “New Economy”? Do you agree with what Prof. John Kotter at Harvard Business School said?
SB: We must impart urgency to face the inevitability of change among our team and to realize that none of us is an island that can depend upon business as usual. In particular, I believe that we need to realize that those we have perceived as competitors in our past, may very likely need to be our collaborators now and that competitors can be collaborators simultaneously. I see this in eBay (News - Alert), DIDX, Wikipedia and more. I agree with John Kotter's thought that the best organizations do change. What a simple statement, but packed with wisdom.
FJ: What are the biggest emerging opportunities for your organization?
SB: Bringing the world of telecommunication entities together in collaborations to empower more of the world (first, second and third, from poorest to richest) with entrepreneurial tools and break down stereotypical thinking.
FJ: As what Alvin Toffler predicted decades ago, Prosume (Produce + Consume) becomes more and more popular in the business world, with Outsourcing as a way of consumption, and DIY as a way of production, what is your perspective on leveraging Prosume trend in today's Knowledge Economy?
SB: I believe you mean Do it Yourself (a.k.a. YOYOU, you're on your own but maybe a little more positive) when you refer to the way of production. My perspective? Consumers as co-creators of value... let me refer you to the studies of Michel Bauwens for the basis of my colleagues' and my discussion on leveraging Prosume here. In addition, we have a knowledge base that our clients participate in with each other and with us.
FJ: As you know, customers can be further classified into Prospects (pre-sales), Customers (after-sales) and Clients (long-term even life-time), so how do you deal them in different ways? Do you agree with Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow Technologies or not?
SB: Clients and customers actually work with us at conferences, in blogs, in our knowledge bases and more. It's just as important to keep clients as it is to gain new customers because of the cost of turnover. Q&A in the form of text, audio and video are important to help current and prospective clients to have confidence in purchasing and in using one's services. Yes, bootstrapping helps to eliminate any false sense of security and pushes a company to care more and work smarter to sell and keep customers and have those customers refer others.
FJ: In mapping execution with strategy, what is the most important piece that any organization cannot ignore? Can you offer us an example based on your own experience?
I have worked with a CLEC where I created my job as the intranet media librarian of processes and provisioning, with a fitness center as manager, with a middle school as media specialist and gifted studies teacher and with Super Technologies, Inc. as CEO and cross-trainer. From these professional experiences, I know that all strategy and no buy-in by a company's team equal snail-pace execution and dead-ends, gossip and flaming in the break room among your employees and clients. Buy-in and a feeling of ownership must be experienced by those who are expected to execute. To do this, they must be involved in the planning strategy. Yes, the clients and the employees.
FJ: How did you manage to scale up your own leadership capability as your organization grows?
SB: Every business or company service related book that I, or my team, members read, we pass on to each other and then share in discussions. We constantly refer to our favorite lessons in our communications with each other and with our customers. Examples are “From Good to Great”, “Surfing on the Edge of Chaos”, and “The One Minute Manager”. Second, I am in daily contact with around 10,000 CXOs and many of their team members who are in the IP communications-related industry in which we share tips via email, IM, phone, online video, and social/business networking.
FJ: When you identify a potential leader, which of the following do you value the most: hindsight, insight and foresight? Why?
SB: Hindsight is what I value most because my memory is not among my best skills (and also why I married Michael), and I realize that hindsight whether it is in reviewing what is directly related to my company or that of other companies, nations, eras, and people is of utmost importance in avoiding the same mistakes and gathering best practices to build upon. When we focus mainly on the present and future, we fall very easily into stereotypical thinking and doing business as usual. In the first year of our company 1999, we wore blinders like everyone else in the telephony industry with main concern of minutes and providing the outgoing call. Then, we listened to the customers' needs studied the trends and records, and turned the concept inside out to meet those needs. The Virtualphoneline put the emphasis on incoming calls from those who were important to them. Hindsight, not foresight drove us to evolve from there to offering an electronic location for any telco and ITSP to participate. Competitors collaborating. Several of our managers and team members who have great leadership potential show a keen sense of hindsight and are not afraid to use it and share it.
FJ: How do you forecast, foster and embrace the disruptive innovation? Do you agree with Prof. Richard Schmalensee, Dean Emeritus of MIT (News - Alert) Sloan School or not?
SB: We imagine the future with anyone and everyone, considering every idea suggested. We exhaustively question those new ideas face to face and electronically such as with FreeMind. We alpha and beta them, turn them inside out and upside down. Users of mobile phone users do a form of banking with points instead of hard copy currency. Nokia (News - Alert) once suggested that a cell phone can also be a bouncing ball, and I wanted to add the source that finds one's eyeglasses and keys. We can contact each other via our car license plate number as IPlateu has shared. Telephony companies can be both competitors and collaborators simultaneously as is seen in Asterisk, OpenSER, DIDX, Arbinet, and other software platforms.
FJ: What else would you like to bring our readers' attention?
SB: Business over the Internet often is minus telephone, email and instant messenger support. The common method of support is to offer a FAQ, but more is needed because not every Internet user can understand what to do from a written FAQ, new circumstances arise that the FAQ does not share solutions to, and many learning styles are not attended to. We offer video, audio and text knowledge bases.
Last, we want to thank Fred Posner of TeamForrest, Skype and Digium (News - Alert), Comtel Networks, ClearChannel and Virtualphoneline for assisting with a telethon for Linkingarms.org. Linking Arms, Inc. is a nonprofit organization who empowers kids in trouble at school and their families to improve and be a productive part of their community in Northwest Florida.
Tim Gray is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Tim’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Tim Gray