I recently had the chance to chat with Aculab’s (News - Alert) director of sales and marketing, Chris Gravett, about what the company has been up to since last we spoke.
I asked Gravett to describe what’s been going on with regard to Aculab’s flagship solution, Prosody X.
Gravett told me that Prosody X is enjoying a wonderful reception in the marketplace.
"Prosody X was launched in January 2006, and at this point in time we have over 140 companies worldwide who are developing communications applications based on the product," Gravett said. "What’s been happening from probably mid Q3 2006 onwards is that we’ve received a lot of feedback from the initial users who were developing on the product and we’ve had a lot of requests for enhancements and some tweaking, and most of our R&D effort has been taken up responding to those opportunities"
The solution is currently being deployed by developers into their end user customers. I asked Gravett to explain what markets were the biggest adopters of Aculab’s technology.
"Prosody X has taken us, as an enabling technology supplier, to what we consider to be a leadership position in four sectors in particular: conferencing, fax, contact center, and military communications applications.
"In response to the first developers who developed with Prosody X we have seen a lot of movement in those sectors. You will see over the forthcoming year, a lot of our efforts will be placed on growing our penetration into those sectors and getting a return on the investment we’ve made on the individual companies who are either in or tied to those sectors."
In terms of the details about what’s happening in particular areas of the market, Gravett expanded, "…with conferencing we are the first enabling technology company to provide the ability for developers to do wideband conferencing and that is an area where we expect there to be quite a boom. There is probably one company that’s actually deploying wideband conferencing solutions based on the kind of technology that we provide globally, and we see that growing."
I interjected, asking Gravett what advantages wideband conferencing brings to the marktplace.
"The prime benefit is quality. We have customers now offering services and deploying solutions that can have upwards of 2,000 conference participants, and obviously there are a lot of challenges in terms of voice quality in conferences of that size. The way we deploy that can be anything from 1:1,999 parties to 2,000 parties having two-way conferencing. We have strength in this area and we are seeing evidence that companies in that sector are moving to our technology and are seeing the benefit that Prosody X — particularly in an IP
only environment — can offer.
The next sector that Gravett mentioned was fax.
"We’ve recently introduced v.34, which was required and demanded by the fax sector," he said. The solution centers on enabling developers of fax solutions to be cost effective, because as Gravett says, "…it’s all about speed of sending faxes. When you’re doing fax broadcast, obviously if you can cut a small amount of time down on hundreds of thousands of faxes then there’s a revenue improvement or a margin improvement depending on how you want to look at it.
"What we have seen over the past 18 months is that we’ve been encouraged by our customers to make a large investment in things like v.34, T.38, T.38 gateways, and even T.37. We’ve been asked to deliver T.37. Even though it appears to be a backwards step, it’s a market requirement in terms of providing fallback from T.38. We’ve continued to invest and we’re now seeing the payback with quite a bit of migration particularly in the North American market where fax is probably more prevalent than the rest of the world. It’s a sector where we have seen a great deal of success in and we’re looking to focus on moving forward."
In the contact center environment, Aculab has enjoyed a lot of success in supporting gateway needs as contact centers transition from TDM
to IP. Gravett agreed. "That’s been a big area of growth that Prosody X has enabled us to capitalize on. We also are offering through, Prosody X, a certain amount of future-proofing in terms of some of the new technologies which are coming downstream. Mobile video, video in general, video conferencing… these are the things that we’re looking to deliver on in 2008.
"The flexibility that we can offer with Prosody X in distributed architecture, the ability to run an application on one host server, but serving a number of different servers offers the opportunity for call center companies to create virtual call centers and virtual offices, which is a growing need. The ability to scale Prosody X and to run either multiple applications, or an application on one server delivered across a number of disparate locations, has moved us forward a long way in the contact center sector.
Military & Security
The final sector that Gravett spoke about included the military/security agency customers that Aculab is serving. "We have a long track record where we have responded to the need for some highly specialized bespoke developments, even in terms of military ISDN protocols, or more recently for meeting the IP encryption standards for handling VoIP
, allowing Control Headquarters to talk to remote assets in both the theater of war and in cases of natural disasters, like what’s recently happened in Bangladesh. We have some bespoke and ruggedized technologies that are really gaining traction in what is a really a growing sector. We will continue to invest where we see the growing need for very swiftly deployed rapid response communications systems. That’s probably the strongest sector for Aculab globally now."
Gravett reflected on the success that Aculab has had with Prosody X, saying, "It’s been phenomenal what we’ve done in the last three or four months with the volume of Prosody X that’s gone through the business. Our financial year runs July to June, and so our first quarter (July to September) was the company’s best quarter ever in terms of both revenue and net profit, and this quarter is shaping up to beat last quarter. Our biggest challenge has been manufacturing product fast enough to meet the orders, so we’re getting frustrated in a positive sort of way."
Greg Galitzine (News - Alert) (News - Alert) is editorial director of TMCnet. To read more of Greg’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
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