In the CEO
Spotlight section in Internet Telephonyï¿½ magazine, we recognize the
outstanding work performed by exemplary companies. Each month we bring you
the opinions of the heads of companies leading the Internet telephony
industry now and helping to shape the future of the industry. This month, we
spoke with Rodger B. Dowdell, Jr., President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board
of American Power Conversion (APC).
IT: What is APCï¿½s mission?
RD: APCï¿½s mission is to create delighted customers by improving
the manageability, availability, and performance of information and
communication systems and networks through the rapid delivery of innovative
solutions to solve real customer problems.
IT: What is your vision for APC and how is the company positioned in
the next generation telecom market?
RD: The vision of APC is to offer integrated solutions built on
industry standards, ensuring availability wherever data is created,
transmitted, or stored. Over the past several years, as the telecom industry
has struggled, APC has been in the unique position of being able to continue
to invest in new products and solutions which are just now emerging into the
market. Our expectation has always been that the telecom market will move
towards industry standard, IP-based solutions, which are at the core of
APCï¿½s value proposition.
IT: Describe some of the key decisions that you have made as CEO
to steer your company through the recent challenging financial straits.
RD: Prioritization of resources is always a challenge, but during
difficult economic times this process is essential to the long-term success
of a company. We really needed to balance the need to streamline operations
and costs, with the importance of continuing to invest in select areas that
will bring better products and services to market. I believe we have done a
good job balancing these two items, making difficult choices in reducing our
spending while at the same time investing in new technologies that will help
improve our customersï¿½ experience.
IT: What makes APCï¿½s services unique and how can a client benefit
from using them?
RD: APCï¿½s end-to-end solutions provide wireless/cellular
carriers, wireline telecom companies and cable MSOs with integrated and
commonly managed infrastructure solutions. Our broad range of open,
adaptable, and integrated solutions, along with our system management and
environmental protection accessories, ensure the availability and
reliability that customers demand for mission-critical IT and communication
IT: What is the most pressing issue facing our industry today, and
what can be done can to alleviate this problem?
RD: In my opinion, the most pressing issue facing the telecom
industry today is to transition to an IP-based infrastructure while staying
profitable. The telecom industry, like any other, needs to continue to
invest and innovate to attract new customers and sell more services to
existing customers. However, because of the cost/investment model that has
developed in this space for the past 50 years, there is very little room for
the providers to spend the money required and still drive down their prices
to capture more of the user-base. In addition, as more competitors enter the
segment (cable for example), the telecoms are not well prepared to fight
The industry needs to move quickly to open standards, realizing that the
differentiation is not in their networks. This will drive down significantly
the cost of those networks, allowing the industry to invest more money
innovating their content and services, which attracts new customers and
drives up the fees those customers are willing to spend on a monthly basis.
It will also create a much more ï¿½stickyï¿½ value proposition since the
customer will become attached to the content/service and not the network.
Movement to open standards will engage a much different group of suppliers,
whose economy of scale and use of ï¿½off the shelfï¿½ technology will drive down
the costs of the resulting solutions as well as the support and service.
IT: Describe your view of the future of the IP telephony industry?
RD: My feeling is that the world is rapidly moving to an ï¿½ALL IPï¿½
model, which leverages open standards and the resulting benefits of lower
costs and reduced complexity. In that world, transporting voice over IP
makes a great deal of sense as it gives companies the ability to utilize a
single network for voice, video, and data instead of the traditional
approach where there were separate analog networks for voice and digital
networks for data. We have seen the early adopters deploy VoIP in trials
over the past few years and are starting to see more widespread rollouts as
prices for the IP phones have come down and standards such as 802.3af (Power
over Ethernet) have been ratified.
One significant change that is occurring with the convergence onto a single
network, is the requirement to have that network and its critical devices
always available. People have come to expect 99.999 percent availability of
their voice (analog) networks, and have tolerated lower availability of
their data (digital) networks in the past. As these applications (voice,
data) merge onto a single (digital) network, people will no longer tolerate
less then 99.999 percent availability of that converged network..
To The October 2003 Table Of Contents ]