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IP Telephony Veteran: VoIP Has Grown Up

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February 03, 2009

IP Telephony Veteran: VoIP Has Grown Up

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

IT EXPO, MIAMI BEACH – Ravi Sakaria, president and chief executive officer of VoicePulse, has tracked the rise and progressively wider adoption of VoIP through years of attending the technology’s premiere event, the Internet Telephony Conference & Expo.

Today, the IP telephony veteran – whose North Brunswick, New Jersey-based company has evolved in six years from a feature-focused residential VoIP provider to a company that also offers full home office, small business, wholesale custom application services – had an epiphany about the technology.
“VoIP has grown up,” Sakaria told TMCnet during an interview at the show. “You can see it here. For the first time, the exhibitors know what their business models are. Everybody has a viable model now, and if you ask, ‘Who is your target?’ or ‘What is your revenue structure?’ – everybody knows. People are out there exhibiting products, not exhibiting ideas and reference designs. People out there are putting out stuff that you can actually purchase or sign a contract for today. They have the right materials. It’s a very focused show.”
Seeking to pick up market share in this slower economy and accelerate as this recession lifts – a philosophy that’s driving Microsoft Corp. to invest in innovation – VoIP service providers, equipment makers, value-added resellers and others are flocking to the ITEXPO (News - Alert) to forge channel partnerships and conduct business.
During a keynote address attended by more than 300 show attendees, John Frederiksen, general manager of Microsoft Response Point – the company’s new IP-PBX (News - Alert) for small businesses – said that innovation can thrive and drive revenues even in the face of an overall slower economy.
Frederiksen said that’s a philosophy that Microsoft (News - Alert) is embracing as it develops Response Point – a widely discussed product whose Service Packet 2 was launched here yesterday at ITEXPO – and eyes a communications space that the company believes will form the foundation of the next major shift in the industry.
“It’s a fundamental belief at Microsoft that one of the next big waves of product enhancement will come through communications, and I think we’re seeing a lot of that today in mobile communications,” Frederiksen said. “But what really stands out for me as I go out and meet customers is how few customers are really reaping those benefits. How many legacy phone systems are still out there and how many are paying large telephone charges without being aware of the possibilities of Voice-over-IP or switching over to a next-generation system. I think there’s really going to be a wave upgrades which are going to occur in the next couple of years that are going to let customers start to reap those benefits.”
Sakaria knows those benefits well, even if his company, VoicePulse (News - Alert), was a little over-focused at first on specific VoIP features – the “bells and whistles” and cost-savings, he said – instead of the technology as a whole, effectively taking a wholesaler’s approach to peddling IP telephony to businesses.
“What we’ve realized, and I think what the industry is realizing is that the average business owner doesn’t want to waste mindshare thinking about these specifics – he or she just wants to know that the system works,” Sakaria told TMCnet. “He doesn’t want to think about it. So the VoIP market is maturing, and it makes so much sense. I mean, when I use a stapler, I just want a staple to come out.”

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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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