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August 24, 2011

Cloud Offerings, Managed Services the Most Disruptive Forces in the Marketplace, Says ITEXPO Analyst

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

The upcoming ITEXPO (News - Alert) West 2011 event in Austin, Texas will feature a number of keynote speeches, workshops and collocated events hosted by some of the biggest names in the technology and communication spaces today.

In addition to hearing from and networking with C-level executives from around the tech world, ITEXPO attendees will have the opportunity to observe panel discussions moderated by a few of the industry's leading analysts.

Headlining two of the panel discussions will be Mark Ricca (News - Alert), partner and senior analyst at IntelliCom Analytics, a global market research firm focused on the business communications space.

TMC CEO Rich Tehrani recently interviewed Ricca to develop a better sense of his upcoming role at the show as well as to get his take on a few hot topics in the industry.

Ricca believes that the stagnant global economy is one of the major forces in the marketplace today. While reducing budgets, lowering ROI and negatively affecting expectations, the poor economy has also created opportunities for new technologies, such as the cloud.

Managed services have also become a major factor in today's marketplace, says Ricca, due to the complexities of IT products and services, the need for more reliable performance and staffing limitations.

Ricca also gave his opinion on the impact that social media has on product development strategies and the future of Google+, a platform that he believes has a chance of competing with the likes of Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert) due to Google's storied history as a development firm. The mobile operating systems war and the effect that HTML5 will have on the marketplace were also discussed.

Tehrani and Ricca concluded the chat by talking about ITEXPO West 2011, where the analyst will be moderating two panel discussions titled, "How to Save Money on Communications, Without Sacrificing Operational Efficiency" and "What You Need to Know about Your Cloud Service Provider."

ITEXPO West 2011 kicks off on September 13 at the Austin Convention Center.

The complete interview is below.

How has your market segment evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those changes?

We’re observing the continuation of two major forces in the marketplace:

  • The Challenging Global Economy: Its pervasive influence on budgets, decision-making, ROI expectations and timeframes
  • Information Products and Services: Its ability to improve employee productivity, customer service, mobility and cost-avoidance

The Challenging Economy has caused virtually all budgets to be reduced; the decision-making process to become more cautious and lengthy; ROI payback thresholds to be increased and timeframes to be compressed. 

At the same time, Information Products and Services have been measurably improved. Properly applied, they can be highly effective in addressing the vast majority of business goals, objectives and problems.

What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business?

Cloud offers in all forms and flavors (public, private and hybrid) can be very effective in meeting business needs and expectations, particularly in this challenging global economy. 

Managed Services is another area that is receiving a lot of interest and growth. Three major factors are driving end user interest in Managed Services:

  • The growing complexity of information products, software and services, and the difficulty in managing and integrating them
  • Limited staffing resources that possess the needed skills, experience and tools
  • The dependency on Information Technology, and the mandate for consistent operational quality and reliable performance

How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?

We use some Cloud Services at IntelliCom Analytics, and the experience has been positive. We also encourage our end user clients to include them in their overall consideration of solutions.

What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?

Our end user clients most often request our assistance in the following three areas:

  • Demystification of Information Technology terms, offer content, license pricing and standards that are in the marketplace. In general, the IT industry confounds end user understanding by having too many acronyms, complex offers and licensing schemes. Simplification should be the objective going forward. (P.S. TMC (News - Alert) is doing a great job in this area).
  • “Short-List” of suppliers to be considered for solutions. Mergers, acquisitions and economic conditions continue to change the IT supplier landscape. Many end user customers are concerned about the viability of some suppliers. We’re often asked to develop a short-list of suppliers for end user clients, along with “qualification” rationale. 
  • Proposal evaluations. We assist end user clients in evaluating supplier proposals. We help them cut through the fluff by assessing: the proposed “solution fit,” the solution “roadmap,” service / support capabilities and offers, as well as terms and conditions. 

Our supplier clients most often request our assistance in the following four areas:

  • Market analysis. This typically includes: market sizing, growth, segmentation, drivers and constraints, and installed base analysis.
  • Buyer Behavior. This generally includes: IT budget assessment, decision making process and timetable, emerging / unmet needs, acquisition preferences and expectations.  
  • Marketing assistance. This usually includes: developing white papers and other marketing / sales materials, developing and delivering webinars and “lunch and learn” sessions.
  • Competitor Analysis. Offer benchmarking, go-to-market strategies, R&D investment, financial stability, service and support offers and capabilities, and best practices. 

How is the continued growth of social media changing service and product development strategies?

Social media has “come of age” as a powerful marketing, sales and service tool for businesses of all sizes. Properly designed and applied, social media is a cost-effective way of extending the marketing reach of businesses. Advancements are being made in this area every day. 

Will Google+ become bigger than Facebook and Twitter? Why or why not?

Google is one of the five most innovative firms in the world. They have a large talent pool, deep-pockets, plus an insatiable appetite for growth. These strengths bode well for Google+. 

As businesses continue their move toward virtual workforces, how are you meeting the need for increased mobility?  What barriers are keeping others from adopting mobile strategies?

Increased growth in mobility is an inevitable fact of business (and personal) life. The three major challenges that must continually be addressed and monitored by businesses are: access, security and management. 

How do you see the mobile operating system war (iPhone vs. Android (News - Alert) vs. RIM vs. WM7) playing out?

Android and iPhone have the momentum. RIM and WM7 have some catching-up to do.

Is HTML5 the game changer many predict it will be?

On paper, HTML5 can be a major and welcome step forward. Only time will tell if it delivers on its promise and market expectations. 

What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West  in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?

Here’s what I’m looking forward to:

  • Learning about new offers and emerging trends
  • Networking with end users, suppliers, developers and analysts

Moderating two interesting and relevant panels sessions:

  • How To Save Money On Communications, Without Sacrificing Operational Efficiency
  • What You Need To Know About Your Cloud Service Provider

What issues will you be addressing during your ITEXPO session and why should attendees be sure to attend?

In both of the above panel sessions, we’ll be providing useful information and insights coupled with actionable recommendations. 

To find out more about Mark Ricca and IntelliCom Analytics, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2011. To be held Sept. 13-15 in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Ricca is moderating during “What You Need to Know About Your Cloud Service Provider, and “How to Save Money on Communications without Sacrificing Your Operational Efficiency”, and Frank Stinson, partner at IntelliCom Analytics,  is moderating during “UC in the Cloud: Understanding the Benefits and Challenges” and “SMB Communications: It’s all About Options”.

 Don’t wait. Register now.

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… follow us on Twitter.


Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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