Ali Giacomin is Product Director at Qwest (News
) Communications. Giacomin will be a featured panelist on the panel titled IP Contact Center State of the Market: A RoundTable Discussion
at the upcoming Internet Telephony (News
) Conference & EXPO in Miami Beach. The event, which takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center from January 23–25, is expected to attract record crowds to what is essentially the first IP communications event of 2008.
I had the chance to ask Giacomin several questions regarding the state of the industry and what the future holds for IP communications.
RT: What trends are you noticing in the communications market?
AG: The transition to IP is steady but not as explosive as predicted three to four years ago. Small and mid-size businesses are making the transition sooner than large enterprises due to the size of the overall investment and operational impact these transitions create.
At Qwest we’re seeing hosted software solutions continue to grow in the historical areas of web portal applications, CRM apps, sales and service. Businesses continue to feel extreme pressure to reduce both their operating and capital expenses with labor remaining a major challenge. Carrier pricing is driving down traditional network per unit rates in both inbound and outbound long distance, which fuels more scrutiny of the value of the VoIP
conversions, especially for large long distance users.
RT: Did 2007 finish the way your company expected?
AG: Qwest is seeing tremendous growth in our hosted contact center services and have completed development of exciting new features that we will be announcing in the first half of 2008.
RT: Is 2008 going to be a better year than 2007?
AG: We’re excited about this year because not only is Qwest expanding and enhancing solution sets, we’re also taking a hard look at how we utilize our full suite of network, hosting and managed service solutions to meet real business needs. Our approach is to help tailor products for our customers versus taking a one-size-fits-all approach. This makes for a more impactful solution. Recent news that we’ve enhanced our Contact Center Services with the Notify me feature is one example of tailoring products.
RT: What technologies have altered the market the most?
AG: In the Contact Center services space, Qwest sees the continued need to balance cost and customer service. The ability for contact centers to converge their voice and data not only enables contact centers to lower cost but also enables Qwest to provide new and enhanced solution options that increase agent efficiency and decrease agent costs.
RT: How will Apple, Google (News - Alert) and Microsoft each change the telecom space?
AG: These companies are all examples of how the lines are blurring as to how we think about what a service provider is versus an application provider. It’s a different world now and we see players in spaces we didn’t think they would be in before.
RT: What are the brightest spots in your business going forward?
AG: Qwest continues to expand our product and services capabilities to help address the growing needs of our customers. Customers are looking for business partners who can provide the knowledge and skills to manage emerging technologies more cost-effectively.
Qwest continues to expand our product and services capabilities to help address the growing needs of our customers. We invest in, develop and deploy network capabilities holistically with the thought of layering on applications and integrated solutions.
At Qwest, we realize that customers are looking for business partners who can provide the knowledge and skills to manage emerging technologies cost-effectively while minimizing risk.
RT: What are the biggest threats you see to your company’s success?
AG: “We are in a very competitive industry, so like many companies, we see threats to the business coming from many different sources. We can’t take our eyes off customer service and we have to continue to evolve with solutions that meet changing needs in order to create differentiation.”
RT: What will conferees learn from your ITEXPO (News - Alert) conference session this month?
AG: This session is a great way to hear the latest on what converged services and IP are doing for contact center customers. This panel will give key insights into improving customer services “over IP.”
The key is to understand benefits and risks for your particular business and implementation options that maximize the benefits while mitigating the risk.
AG: Everyone of course! Especially attendees interested in the latest in IP solutions for business and specifically advanced, hosted contact center solutions and IP for SMBs.
RT: What unique perspectives will you offer?
AG: As the market moves towards a solutions model based upon lower capital investment, improved telecom and application capacity planning and management, and higher service standards, Qwest will discuss how our approach is delivering solutions that map to these new demands.