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January 07, 2011Phone.com Exec: Making VoIP More Than Voice
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Trends for 2011 can be challenging to predict, but a look back to 2010 can lend some valuable insight. According to Alon Cohen (News - Alert), executive vice president/CTO of Phone.com, the penetration of the mobile application into the VoIP space was one of the most significant trends for 2010.
Cohen recently participated in an interview with TMCnet CEO, Rich Tehrani (News - Alert), in anticipation of the upcoming ITEXPO East event in Miami. When asked about the impact continued growth in cloud computing would have on communications in 2011, Cohen shared it would enable additional cost reduction to data driven adjunct features to VoIP.
Phone.com currently uses social networking as a customer support tool, and Cohen believes net neutrality is important as long as providers can support it. Cohen is hosting a session at this year’s ITEXPO (News - Alert) East and believes his is a “must attend” event for those interested in managing their budget with hosted VoIP solutions. He is sure attendees will also be searching for information on security. For 2011, Phone.com will be launching a network monitoring that will allow IT managers to decide how well VoIP will perform before they install. As for Cohen’s prediction for the coming year, he believes VoIP will become more than voice.
The entire conversation follows:
What was the most significant technology trend in 2010 and what impact will it have in 2011?
The penetration of the mobile application into the VoIP space was one of the most significant trends during 2010. This trend will remain strong as more features become enabled over mobile devices, and as more and more customers own smarter phones.
What impact will the continued growth of cloud computing have on the communications industry in 2011?
Cloud computing will enable additional cost reduction to few data driven adjunct features to VoIP, such as document or screen sharing.
I think Google Android will win in terms of penetration growth, however, Apple user interface design and attention to the outer details such as usability and product design will win the consumer. Apple might lose the long run battle with respect to ignoring consumer needs (as they know better) and producing products with very short life span in terms of upgradability. Android is closing very fast.
What impact will mobile technology have on the tech space in 2011?
Mobile devices will become more versatile lighter and thinner, the laptop will lose its glory quickly, as the tablets become the tool of choice for road warriors.
Where are the best opportunities in the tech space this year?
Becoming agents for VoIP hosted PBX companies. There is so much growth in that space that every agent is poised to make a bundle. Given long term residual compensation plans from the VoIP companies, agents can now build a portfolio that will produce income for years to come.
How can technology change the world for the better?
Technology was always a contributor to a better world, from the first wheel, the first road or the first data highway that were created. The world is getting smaller and opportunities and access are opening up to even the most remote parts of the world.
What impact has social media had on how you interact with your customers?
Phone.com produces on an ongoing basis short video that explains how to use all kinds of services and features we offer. We distribute the video on different venues, there still a lot to learn from our perspective about how to use that tool better.
How have you leveraged social networking as an internal collaboration tool? How do you measure its effectiveness?
We use social networking as a customer support tool, and as a toll to listen to what customers need. We are not at the stage where we can measure a direct ROI but we can certainly feel the warmth from customers who use social media tools and are happy to see that their favorite VoIP provider Phone.com is responsive on all channels.
The FCC has recently voted to support net neutrality. Is net neutrality necessary, or will it present more challenges than it will solve?
Net neutrality is important as long as the providers can support that. If neutrality means that the Internet will get bogged down during peak hours or when people watch Netflix then we have a problem. The more important thing is that providers will not prioritize their services over outside vendors since then we would kill every good competition and end up with bad service controlled by few cable monopolies that already have geographic monopoly in their respective markets.
Why is your session a must-attend at ITEXPO?
If you care about your organization budget, (those days we all should) you need to learn what is now possible with hosted VoIP solutions which was not possible before. You need to know when it makes sense and when it does not. And if you select a VoIP solution of any sort, come to learn before losing your job to someone who came to the session and learned upfront what can go wrong.
What other topics should be at the top of attendees’ lists?
What new and exciting products/solutions can we expect to see from your company in 2011?
A network monitor that will let IT managers decide how well VoIP will perform before they install VoIP and will enable them to monitor network capability against SLA they might have from their provider ensuring they keep QOS up on VoIP deployments. And yes, few more end-user surprises we are not sharing yet to make other modes of communications simpler to use.
Please make one surprising prediction for 2011.
VoIP will become more than voice. In the same way cable companies use triple play to deepen the hooks in the consumer pocket, smart VoIP companies will expand beyond voice and video and will add an arsenal of features that will differentiate them among themselves and among the incumbents and will keep consumer hooked.
To find out more about Alon Cohen and Phone.com, visit the company at ITEXPO East 2011. To be held Feb. 2-4 in Miami, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Cohen is speaking during “Hosted vs. On Premises VoIP.” Don’t wait. Register now.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf
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