September 21, 2010
ITEXPO West Speaker: The Innovative Products of Aastra
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
The most interesting things within the communications environment today are the different trends that emerge and the way in which they change. According to Tim Whittington, Executive vice president and general manager with Aastra (News - Alert) USA, the most significant trend today is an increasingly mobile workforce. Whittington recently took part in a TMCnet interview with TMC CEO Rich Tehrani in anticipation of the upcoming ITEXPO West 2010 event.
When asked about the one product or service most needed in the market, Whittington noted it is hard to pinpoint as different businesses have different needs. His company is leveraging social media as another channel in which to augment communications, although Whittington doesn’t expect to see widespread HD voice in 2011.
He does believe mobile video chat or conferencing are viable and there will be a demand for it, yet he resists predicting who will emerge the winner in the wireless operating system battle. When asked about wireless networks replacing wired networks, Whittington doesn’t see it happening in existing building, but agrees it may augment existing infrastructures.
As for the impact the growth of cloud-based services on his business, Whittington highlighted that Aastra has offered a hosted call center service since 2006, yet most customers want premise-based solutions. In reference to the net neutrality debate, Whittington is happy to not be on that committee as he sees both sides.
For the upcoming ITEXPO West event, Whittington will be demonstrating Aastra’s MX-ONE Compact for SMBs. As for the one technology with the greatest impact in 2011, Whittington noted that Aastra will continue to release new and innovative products.
The full conversation follows:
What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?
An increasingly mobile workforce. To maintain productivity, the mobile workforce needs the same access to communications and other applications they would have if they were sitting at their desk. Mobility is a major focus at Aastra and increasingly the mobile component is a major decision factor in new business that we win. We are also starting to see more demand for video; especially affordable, yet high-quality solutions for the desktop.
What is the one product or service the market is most in need of?
It is hard to pinpoint any one thing as the “killer app” depends on the business. However there are common requirements we see across all of our customer segments such as demand for standards-based interoperable solutions, demand for applications and services that can be deployed just as easily for remote or mobile workers as for deskbound workers, and CIOs are only interested in rolling out equipment or applications for which there is a justifiable ROI.
How is your company leveraging the growth of social media to enhance your own business?
Social media is another channel in which to augment our communications, but our customers still appreciate our direct, personal service and being able to have meaningful conversations that are not limited to 140 characters!
Nearly every phone manufacturer is now incorporating support for wideband codecs. Will we finally see widespread HD voice deployments in 2011?
Since our phones incorporate wideband that would be nice to see. However, it is not likely to be “widespread’ in 2011.
What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?
The technology is absolutely viable and there will be demand for it, the long pole in the tent will be the continued adoption of 4G.
That’s hard to predict because it’s not just about the technology; the execution of marketing programs and carrier partnerships are the most important elements. Here you have Google (News - Alert) vs. Apple vs. Microsoft, all of which have huge marketing budgets and significant mindshare.
Some have suggested wireless networking will soon replace wired networks in the enterprise. Do you agree? Why or why not?
I don’t see wireless replacing wired infrastructure in existing buildings. Why replace something that works fine? However wireless may augment existing infrastructures.
What impact has the growth of cloud-based services had on your business?
Since 2006 we have offered a hosted call center service (CVCC), and we have strong partnerships with many providers of hosted PBX (News - Alert) services who utilize our SIP phones. However, the hype over so many UC apps moving to the cloud is just that; for the most part our PBX and UC customers are still looking for premise-based solutions.
I am happy not to be sitting on that committee because there are pros and cons on both sides. In the long run, however, we will all benefit from a neutral Internet and carriers have an opportunity to develop value-added services from which they can charge a premium for versus bandwidth.
You are exhibiting at ITEXPO West 2010. What is the most exciting thing attendees will see at your booth?
Everything they see at our booth will be exciting! We will be demonstrating our MX-ONE Compact for small-to-midsize businesses complete with a rich set of applications supported over both wireless and desktop phones. We will also be demonstrating our 6720i series phones which run an embedded Microsoft Communicator client and are optimized for use with the release of MCS.
What is the one technology development that will have the greatest impact in 2011?
At Aastra we will continue to release innovative new products in 2011 that we believe will have significant impact for our customer base. Watch us and see!
To find out more about Aastra USA, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2010. To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. John Drolet, Vice President of Sales, Indirect Channels, is speaking during “Meet the HD Handset Vendors.” You an also visit Aastra USA in booth # 212. 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 Stefania Viscusi