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VoIP Providers and the Economy: Innovate, Entrench, or Consolidate?

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August 31, 2009

VoIP Providers and the Economy: Innovate, Entrench, or Consolidate?

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

The communications industry, while not entirely immune to it, has felt less of an impact that most during the economic downturn that has crippled more than just a few companies (even some in the telecom space). In fact, many telecom providers and vendors have experienced growth during the recession, like 8x8 (News - Alert), which recently moved into a new corporate headquarters facility that could accommodate its growth.

I had a chance to ask 8x8’s CMO Debbie Jo Severin (News - Alert) a few questions heading into ITEXPO about several topics, including how the communications industry is responding to the economy. Here’s what she had to say.
EL:      What is the biggest challenge facing the communications industry today?
DJS:     There are several challenges facing the communications industry today. How to come out stronger during the economic downturn, how to deal with lingering revenue pressures and fierce competition. Do you: Innovate? Entrench? Consolidate? Or, all three?
EL:      How are you approaching that challenge?
DJS:     8x8’s flagship product, 8x8 Virtual Office, is a revolutionary, money-saving VoIP solution used by more than 17,000 companies. In the current economic climate, this is a very compelling proposition for more and more small and medium-sized businesses. 8x8 reported record numbers of new business subscribers for each of the past two quarters.
We believe VoIP will accelerate in the small business market as convergence of voice, data and video, SaaS (News - Alert), mobile broadband, and further application integration with telephony pushes forward. We’re currently beta testing several new unified communication services and will be bringing these new UC services to market at the end of 2009.
8x8’s results demonstrate that we’ve been able to grow in these challenging times. We recorded a profit in our last reporting quarter, surpassed the previous quarter’s record sales to new business customers, reduced business customer subscriber acquisition cost by almost 50% from the same period last year, and saw business customer churn decline significantly from the same period a year ago.
EL:      Are there any advancements you feel could or would enhance VoIP technology?
DJS:     The beauty of VoIP is the merger of traditional phone services with the power of the Internet. 8x8 believes the advancement of unified communication services will continue to advance VoIP. In addition, convergence and integration with SFA (sales force automation) and CRM will bring VoIP even more to the desktop, conference room, and mobile devices.
EL:      How will the Broadband Stimulus plan impact the communications market in the U.S.?
DJS:     I think the Broadband Stimulus plan will potentially help on two fronts. First, it will help drive broadband adoption into rural areas (either wired or wireless) and second, it will result in an infusion/investment for companies driving broadband adoption and usage through the development of better applications that take advantage of broadband.
EL:      What will be the most significant development or trend in the communications space in the next 12 months?
DJS:     Convergence (News - Alert) VoIP will accelerate in the small business market as convergence (voice, data, and video), SaaS, mobile broadband, and further application integration with telephony pushes forward.
EL:      What will we see from your company in the next 12 months?
DJS:     Unified communications integrated with our 8x8 Virtual Office hosted PBX service.
EL:      What’s the most exciting thing ITEXPO (News - Alert) attendees will find at your booth? 
DJS:     Our 8x8 Virtual Meeting (web conferencing) solution integrated with 8x8 Virtual Office.
EL:      Who will win the World Series?
DJS:     St. Louis Cardinals
For more on how 8x8’s hosted VoIP services can help you get the most from your budget dollars, be sure to stop by booth #401 at ITEXPO West in Los Angeles. While you’re there take advantage of the many conference sessions and collocated events like 4GWE, M2M Evolution, Smart Grid Summit, Sipera’s (News - Alert) UC Security Workshop, and Ingate’s SIP Trunking seminars.

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Erik Linask is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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