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September 08, 2008
September 08, 2008

Zeacom: Real-world Applications Driving UC Toward Mainstream

By Rich Tehrani, President and Editor-in-Chief

Unified communications (UC) holds a lot of promise for transforming the communications technology landscape. Yet, there is a tendency for providers and technology companies to do a lot of talking about UC without actually progressing very far on the path toward creating true UC solutions.

Achieving true UC that is within reach of the small to medium sized business (SMB) seems to be even more of a challenge. Yet one company, Zeacom, has responded to market demand for this type of product with its Zeacom Communications Center, which provides flexible and modular computer telephony integration (CTI) tools unified in a single platform.
Ernie Wallerstein (News - Alert), president at Zeacom, told me that he sees UC becoming more mainstream during the next year, driven by the extension of such applications onto mobile devices. This, he predicts, will give UC more universal appeal than it has enjoyed to date. Zeacom is taking the long view, anticipating that Microsoft and Google may become major competitors for traditional PBX (News - Alert) vendors; Wallerstein said his company might need to change who it partner with, but is offering a solution that will continue to have wide appeal.
Zeacom will be demonstrating its solution live at INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO later this month — piquing the interest of attendees by showing how UC can be used today, not at some mythical future time.
RT: What has been Zeacom’s biggest achievement in 2008 so far?
Wallerstein: We had two record quarters to start out 2008. To be able to implement new projects successfully in spite of the high volume is a testament to our commitment to make our product easier to install and maintain for our partners.
RT: What can we expect to see from Zeacom during the next 12 months?
Wallerstein: More focused promotion of our mobility and conferencing modules. Having these tools be part of the same user interface for messaging and/or contact center agents is going to be a major part of our value to the SMB market.
RT: How do you see the communications market evolving?
Wallerstein: Unified communications (UC) will become more mainstream during the next 12 months. Today it is still in the earlier adopter phase, but extending UC apps to the mobile device will have more universal appeal in the marketplace.
RT: What company made the biggest contribution to communications this year?
Wallerstein: I believe Microsoft — not so much from the delivery of products, since Office Communications Server (OCS) is still not mainstream, but by bringing attention to the UC market.
RT: How has Google changed our markets?
Wallerstein: Our world is mostly unaffected by Google so far. However, with more open source Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) providers entering the market, the need to integrate with Google and Microsoft as the communications portal will be an integral part of our (and the market’s) strategy going forward.
RT: How about Apple (News - Alert)?
Wallerstein: Cool phone — allows us to have a nicer look and feel to our mobile-enabled user interface (UI). Our mobile interface allows users to change their presence statuses and have a real-time view of co-workers. This allows someone to know via their cell phone if someone is available, away from their desk, in a meeting, etc.
RT: What mobile phone(s) do you use?
Wallerstein: BlackBerry (News - Alert).
RT: Who will win in an Apple/RIM war?
Wallerstein: Apple for the new generation, but IMHO for today’s business person BlackBerry still rules the day.
RT: What do you think the communications market might look like in five years?
Wallerstein: That depends a lot on Microsoft and to a lesser extent Google. If they can mainstream voice interfaces into their portals while delivering the value a business person needs, then the traditional PBX vendor may be in trouble. This affects Zeacom as the traditional PBX vendor is our biggest reseller market today. We will need to find new partners — but our application will still have value.
RT: What will attendees see in the Zeacom booth at ITEXPO this September?
Wallerstein: Unified contact center, messaging, presence, mobility, conferencing and interactive voice response (IVR) all delivered from one application. We will have a live demo there — and the conferencing and mobility apps tend to awe the crowd. We are excited to show this stuff because people see the applicability right away.
RT: What sorts of companies should come to your exhibit?
Wallerstein: We go to ITEXPO to meet potential resellers more than end-users. So companies that sell voice and data solutions to the SMB market (enterprises of 2,500 or fewer employees and contact centers with 500 or fewer agents) should check us out.
RT: Why should customers choose Zeacom’s solutions?
Wallerstein: We deliver UC solutions today — not just speak to it. We have more than 1,000 customers worldwide doing UC and another 2,000 doing contact center or voice messaging.
RT: Please make one surprising prediction for 2009.
Wallerstein: Zeacom will go public in 2009. We have had people knock on our door and discuss acquiring us, but we believe so much in our future that we want to see how far we can take this. From a market perspective: Avaya (News - Alert) will be sold.
Zeacom is a Gold sponsor of INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO will take place in Los Angeles, California, September 16-18, 2008, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Visit Zeacom at booth #520 in the exhibit hall. Don’t wait. Register now!

Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world�s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.

Edited by Mae Kowalke


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