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July 06, 2009

Voice 2.0: New Ways to Manage Social Networks?

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Voice is adding value to Web services and making the network convergence story even stronger, the head of a Toronto-based industry analyst and marketing consultancy with a focus on IP communications told TMCnet in a recent interview.
Jon Arnold, principal of J Arnold & Associates, told TMC (News - Alert) President Rich Tehrani in a recent interview (printed in full below), that one of the two sessions he’s moderating at September’s ITEXPO West – “When Voice Meets Web 2.0” – will benefit professionals seeking to find out how those two world are converging.

The session (Arnold is also moderating “Enterprise Class Telephony for the SMB”), will look at “Voice 2.0” – or how voice and data technologies are merging to serve businesses and lifestyles in ways never before dreamed possible, with innovative start-ups offering new ways to manage social networks, schedule conference calls, avoid long-distance fees and navigate phone menus.
During the interview, Arnold also talked to Tehrani about smartphones and the increasingly popular devices’ ability to take advantage of people’s craving for mobility and love of broadband.
“When we stop thinking of them as phones and start thinking of them as mobile computers and viewers, things will really get interesting,” Arnold told Tehrani.
Their exchange follows.
Rich Tehrani: What has the economic crisis taught you, and how has it changed your customers?
Jon Arnold (pictured left): It reminds you of how cyclical this business can be, and how careful you have to be in a down market. Being an independent, you have to run as lean as possible and have realistic expectations about what clients are prepared to spend money on. There’s never been a more important time to focus on being innovative and trying new things.
RT: What’s the strongest segment in the communications industry?
JA: From what I’m seeing, there are a few bright spots – can’t really pick one right now. In no particular order – social media, virtualization, enterprise mashups and video-based collaboration tools.
RT: With the rise of smartphones and netbooks, many wireless technologies, such as WiFi (News - Alert), appear to be poised for rapid growth. For example, we’re seeing more and more airlines add in-flight WiFi. In general, how widespread should WiFi be, in your view?
JA: That’s so hard to answer realistically. It would be great to have it everywhere, but there’s no business model to support that. Of course, having forward-thinking public policy in place to make this happen would change everything, but that’s not happening in this market. Short of that, I think market forces will dictate where we see WiFi, both free and paid variations. There are lots of public spaces where we don’t mind having ad-supported WiFi if it’s free, but that’s really on a case-by-case basis.
RT: Which nation or region of the world will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10?
JA: The United States has always been my core market. Short of partnering with others, it would be hard for me to do much business outside the United States or Canada.
RT: What device or devices do you use, and what do you wish you used?
JA: BlackBerry (News - Alert) Bold. None otherwise. I’m not a gadget user, although I would love a Netbook. I plan to get one once business improves.
RT: What has the iPhone 3G taught us? I know it’s very new, but what about the Palm Pre? What are we learning from the smartphones based on the open source Google Android (News - Alert) platform?
JA: They deliver great utility – people love mobility and they love broadband. Smartphones bring the best of both worlds together like nothing before. When we stop thinking of them as phones and start thinking of them as mobile computers and viewers, things will really get interesting.
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO West, to be held Sept. 1 to 3 in Los Angeles. Describe your talk and tell us what companies or people should attend.
JA: I’m moderating two sessions – “When Voice Meets Web 2.0,” and “Enterprise Class Telephony for the SMB.” For the first session we’ll explore how voice is adding value to Web services, and making the network convergence story stronger. This will be a great session for anyone looking to understand how these worlds are coming together and to hear first-hand about some of the leading examples being used today.
The second session addresses a topic that will draw a lot of interest. SMB is a huge market opportunity for IP telephony, and we’ll have some great examples showing the range of options available and how there are workable solutions for any type of network environment.
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions? How do they justify the expense to management?
JA: As an analyst, my services are pretty unique. They would choose me because I have expertise about their market that will help them develop strategies to compete more effectively.

Learn more about J Arnold & Associates at ITEXPO West — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO (News - Alert) West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Don’t wait. Register now!

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

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