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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[February 23, 2005]

Know Thy Keynoters: Mike Heberling

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist


On Thursday, Februray 24 th Mike Heberling will give a special keynote at ITEXPO for a paid-attendee-only breakfast for early birds at 7:15 a.m.

Mike Heberling is responsible for FrontRange Solutions sales in the company’s Americas region, which includes the United States, Canada, and Latin America.


He comes to FrontRange from 3Com Corporation, where he was responsible for U.S. Service Provider National Accounts and Business Development for their VoIP products.

Last November Heberling shared with TMC his vision of VoIP. He’s a firm believer that VoIP belongs “in companies’ hands.”

“Industry analysts agree that an industry-wide move to voice and data convergence — Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP — is now underway and likely to figure prominently in companies’ IT investments over the next few years,” he declared.

The introduction of VoIP comes at a time when, Heberling believes, “the telephony landscape has remained essentially static for over 30 years. In an office corner sits the traditional telephony switch – a large, beige box costing between $75,000 and $180,000 to install and up to $35,000 a year to maintain.” It’s typically proprietary-based, difficult to work on and requires expensive consultants to make even basic changes.

Heberling admits that proprietary telephony has survived for so long “because it has provided rock-solid communications and very high reliability.” Still, he sees its combination of high up-front costs and annual maintenance as shortcomings “in the face of growing cost efficiency and competitive pressures.”

The evolution of IP telephony, Heberling believes, “has mirrored that of many other technologies, typically deployed by high enterprise. With the emergence of VoIP capability, this broader, more flexible functionality is now available to SMEs and mid-tier organizations. Technology and market demand now enable smaller businesses to provide the same high level of service as their larger counterparts.”

He sees some of the major business benefits of VoIP: “Using a private network, higher-quality service is guaranteed. Also, using VoIP and Internet telephony eliminates call charges from the public telephone service.” He dismisses concerns over bandwidth being able to handle business traffic, saying “broadband DSL is now widely available and reasonably priced, allowing voice to be carried securely over high-speed networks.”

As a result, “telephony and data can now be managed in the same environment, saving money and adding flexibility if staff members regularly move offices or telecommute. Each home worker, whatever his or her location, becomes just another extension of the corporate network.”

“Compare a contact center interaction to eating in a restaurant,” he says. “The waiter greets you at the door, takes your coat and sees you to your table. He brings you your beverage and takes your meal order and passes it to the kitchen. Until now, you’ve had a positive experience. This step equates to the ACD/IVR experience.

“However, if the food is cold when it reaches your table, you’ll quickly revise your opinion. Traditional telephony mirrors this example by focusing attention solely on pushing the call though to the agent with no concern for what happens after the connection is made – which is ultimately the most important part of the transaction.”


David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.


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