In the CEO Spotlight section in Internet Telephony® 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 Craig W. Rauchle, co-CEO and COO at Inter-Tel, Inc., (www.inter-tel.com).
GG: What is Inter-Tel’s mission?
CWR: The primary mission of Inter-Tel remains consistent throughout its 35 years of existence: to provide businesses with technology, services, and applications that empower them to increase revenue, manage operations more efficiently, and reduce expenses.
Our company is in business strictly to help customers address their evolving challenges.
We place an extremely high emphasis on delivering quantifiable return on investment and value throughout our product portfolio, including robust IP solutions, emerging presence management applications, and mobility products.
Inter-Tel does not offer technology for technology’s sake. Our commitment is to deliver the tools and resources that can positively impact the operational and financial performance of any business.
GG: What is your vision for Inter-Tel and how is the company positioned in the next-generation telecom market?
CWR: Inter-Tel is considered the “thought leader” of presence management by many industry analysts, which I think properly represents the current position of the company. Certainly, as inquiries continue to increase regarding IP telephony, customers will seriously examine these emerging business-improvement applications that leverage the converged infrastructure. As a result, I expect there will be an escalating demand for collaboration, messaging, unified communications, and other advanced applications that are best suited for an IP environment, and are designed to help customers maximize their efficiencies.
Inter-Tel will continue to be on the leading edge of the industry in terms of developing these new applications and bringing them to market. As a result, we feel the company is well positioned to take advantage of the increased interest in IP by delivering solutions that are advanced, reliable and above all else, cost-effective.
GG: It appears that growth and opportunity are now the trends of the VoIP industry. What possible hurdles do you see that might upset this momentum?
CWR: While there is definitely an increase in the expressed interest in IP telephony, and Inter-Tel is seeing more IP shipments going out the door, I think it would be dangerous and misguided to think that baseline IP transport is the reason for this increased activity.
Most of the businesses I speak with aren’t even aware of the infrastructure they’re using — all they care about is the knowledge that their calls will be connected and that their customers’ queries are being handled expeditiously. Whether the voice traffic traverses an IP or TDM network is almost always of little consequence to the customer.
If our industry is to really grow over the next few years, we need to get out of the “techno-centric” model by clearly explaining how an IP environment can significantly benefit a business in a variety of areas, including sales, accounting, personnel, and administration.
Unless vendors can deliver a realistic ROI in terms the customer understands, there is no compelling reason for a business to migrate to IP. The industry must embrace this concept and avoid the habit of selling technology for technology’s sake.
GG: What is Inter-Tel focusing on these days to maintain its leadership in the VoIP space?
CWR: We’ve been focused particularly on refining our presence management suite, which incorporates Inter-Tel’s Unified Communicator version 2.1, Enterprise Conferencing, and Enterprise Instant Messaging.
In addition, Inter-Tel is continuing to develop products that leverage the SIP infrastructure. Our company is a strong proponent of standards-based architecture, and we’re of the belief that SIP will eventually evolve into the industry standard.
GG: Describe your view of the future of the IP telephony industry.
CWR: I think it’s fair to say that IP telephony is very early in its lifecycle. While mobility, presence, and other applications have captured mindshare at this early stage, the real excitement for me lies in the belief that the waters before us are so uncharted.
I expect that vendors, third-party developers, and customers will work in concert to develop applications that will continue to positively impact the enterprise environment.
Text-to-speech, wireless communications and mobility productivity tools are just a few examples where we’ll make great progress.
As long as it continues to positively impact the workplace and meet business needs, IP telephony will pervade the market. IT
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