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December 29, 2008

Aculab's Chris Gravett Sees Opportunity in These Tough Times

By Rich Tehrani, CEO, Technology Marketing Corporation


 Aculab is a provider of enabling technologies for VoIP developers and systems integrators that helps them produce communications solutions that bring value, reduced costs, increased customer satisfaction and a competitive advantage. 
 
This year, the company made a significant number of announcements including the release of the ApplianX DPNSS-to-Q.SIG Gateway which meets the demands of enterprises looking to leverage DPNSS supplementary services in an IP environment.
 
Also, the company released updates to its GroomerII offering and announced  it attained Gold Certified Partner status in the Microsoft (News - Alert) Partner Program, among other achievements.

As a Gold Certified Partner, the company has effectively demonstrated expertise with Microsoft technologies and proven ability to meet customers’ needs.
 
I took some time to chat with Aculab's (News - Alert) Sales and Marketing Director, Chris Gravett recently about the company and his thoughts on the current market conditions.
 
Are you generally optimistic, pessimistic or realistic? 

I have to say optimistic as I am responsible for global sales but I do have a realistic approach to our business. In the current economic environment I am probably more cautious than I have ever been. Even in this new world I am optimistic about Aculab's potential in both surviving the recession and taking advantage of the upturn when it comes. Our private, debt free status serves us well in both the good and the tough times. Our product portfolio and our ability to respond to both technical and commercial challenges swiftly puts us in a great position.

How surprised are you at the global financial situation? 

One cannot fail to be surprised at the depth and breadth of the recession. A downturn itself is not a surprise and neither is the 'global' impact of it. It is positive in the fact that badly run companies and malpractice that went unnoticed in the boom times is being exposed. Management practice and risk management has changed for the better. It is certainly very painful but, in the long term probably not a bad thing. Not easy to say when I look at my diminished pension fund but, when one looks at the bigger picture a check was long overdue.

How have customers reacted to the slowing global markets? 

Projects are certainly being pushed out and capital expenditure cancelled or at least postponed. Customers seek extended payment terms, keener pricing, etc. Our approach is to work in partnership, sharing risks and opportunity. It is essential that relationships are transparent. With that level of trust we can work through the challenges together. In the current environment I am wary when communication dries up. 

Do you see this time as an opportunity or a rough spot to get through quickly? 

It's both in a way. There are many opportunities in these times. We can stand up and be counted. I believe the way we respond when the going gets tough earns us enormous respect and loyalty. Having said that, when companies can't borrow and capital investment is delayed the impact comes back up the food chain to us, so nobody wants a long recession.

What will companies need to do to survive this downturn? 

There is a need for strong will and prudent management. It's not a time for panic (although you would hardly believe that recently). If you can invest wisely during the downturn and remain visible and available to your customers and the market, you will prosper ‘quicker and bigger’ when we the corner is turned.
 
 
Which country will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10? 

As with much at the moment the future is difficult to call. From a global perspective we are seeing the biggest impact of the recession in the U.S. Currently it is unclear if it is just that the U.S. is ahead of the rest of the world or if the market there is just more pessimistic. Northern and Eastern Europe are strongest in terms of opportunity and optimism currently. We have high hopes for the Indian subcontinents next year and we expect growth there. Other than that it is probably true when the upturn comes it will be rapid. We are positioning ourselves to be able to respond to that upturn wherever it is.
 
 
I understand you are exhibiting at ITEXPO which takes place Feb 2-4 2009 in Miami. What will you be showing there?  

We will have both our enabling technology products and our ApplianX range. Our prime purpose for being at ITEXPO (News - Alert) is networking. I suspect we will be doing more listening than talking. We have a lot to offer and are well positioned to assist our partners through these tough times. To do that effectively we have to understand their challenges and identify where we can help. 

I am a purchasing decision-maker, why do I need to speak with you before I buy? 

Our strength is flexibility; commercial flexibility and technical flexibility. We can add most value if we clearly understand your business goals, your technology challenges and the barriers you wish to remove.
 

Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world�s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi




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