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August 05, 2009

VoIP Technology Gives SMBs a Boost in Weak Economy

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

In a down economy, few industries are recession-proof. Yet, the VoIP phone market is one of the small handful of sectors showing signs of growth as businesses look to save money with easy-to-deploy solutions, the marketing chief for a Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based creator of telephone systems for small businesses told TMCnet in an interview.

According to Mike Tourigny, chief marketing officer of Aksys Networks, the North American market, in particular, is poised for strong growth in the small- to medium-sized business phone system space.
“We see strong growth from small businesses – both new businesses that have emerged due to the economy, and existing businesses that are growing in spite of the economy because they are serving a market need that remains strong,” Tourigny told TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) in an interview that's printed in full below.
Tourigny, who is exhibiting at ITEXPO Sept. 1 to 3, also said consumers’ ability to quickly tap into the rich capabilities of smartphones is one of the key factors driving a so-called ‘revolution’ in user interface of the devices.
Their full exchange follows:
Rich Tehrani: What has the economic crisis taught you, and how has it changed your customers?
Mike Tourney (pictured left): The economic crisis has reminded us of the importance of questioning the value of every dollar spent in our business, and I think it has had the same effect on our customers everywhere.
RT: How is this down economy affecting your decisions to reinvest in your company or market, if at all? Where will you invest?
MT: As a young company launching a new product this year, our plans are less affected by the economy. Our KONNECT Office Phone System provides customers and channel partners with true scalability, powerful features, and the flexibility to deploy in one or more sites with no other hardware required. We are seeing strong interest and traction that encourages us to continue to invest in our product and expanding our distribution.
RT: What’s the strongest segment in the communications industry?
MT: We see strong growth from small businesses – both new businesses that have emerged due to the economy, and existing businesses that are growing in spite of the economy because they are serving a market need that remains strong.
RT: With the rise of smartphones and netbooks, many wireless technologies, such as WiFi, appear to be poised for rapid growth. For example, we’re seeing more and more airlines add in-flight WiFi. In general, how widespread should WiFi be, in your view?
MT: I would love to be able to ‘get online’ whenever and wherever I want, so I would like to see WiFi everywhere. More importantly, whether it is WiFi, 3G or 4G, what I really want to see is a more consistent experience and ability to get online easily without having a myriad of accounts, passwords, etc., to wade through.
RT: Which nation or region of the world will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10?
MT: Our focus in the coming 12 months is simply the North American market and we anticipate strong growth from this market. As a new entrant in the SMB phone system space with strong features and a significant cost advantage, we are seeing interest from companies in all verticals for communication tools that can help them be more competitive and effective while saving money.
RT: In what ways is President Barack Obama helping or hindering the technology markets? What more can he do?
MT: He is facing significant challenges in supporting a strong recovery throughout the country. While I am pleased with his efforts to date I would prefer to see fewer bailouts and direct investment in business, and more focus on creating a climate or environment where new businesses and ideas can be started and grow.
RT: What device or devices do you use, and what do you wish you used?
MT: I use my KONNECT phone, a MacBook, and an iPhone (News - Alert) 3G. I wish my iPhone was a 3GS, but otherwise I love it and will do my best to hold on for at least another year before falling prey to the desire to upgrade it.
RT: What has the iPhone 3G taught us? I know it’s very new, but what about the Palm Pre? What are we learning from the smartphones based on the open source Google (News - Alert) Android platform?
MT: The biggest lesson I have taken from the iPhone and followers like the Palm Pre and Google Android (News - Alert), is the market impact of an extremely well designed user experience. A new user can quickly and easily tap into so much of the rich capabilities of the device. To me, that is what is now driving a revolution in the user interface for smartphones and many other sectors of the market. We do our best to apply that principle to our KONNECT Office Phone System to really deliver on our tagline; “We make voice simple.”
RT: I understand you are exhibiting Sept. 1 to 3 at ITEXPO West in Los Angeles. What will you show there? Describe the companies or people who should come to your exhibit.
MT: We will be showcasing our KONNECT Office Phone System in booth 526 at ITEXPO. It is a server-less phone system targeting offices with up to 30 phones. It is unique not only because it has no server or hosting fee, but because it is a hybrid product that supports both analog lines and VoIP, while providing ‘plug and play’ operation for multi-site offices.
We are excited to meet with companies who sell to or provide services to the small and medium business market whether they are VARs, integrators, or service providers. We are also interested in talking to businesses who are looking for a flexible and stable phone system for their office and companies who are deploying or developing solutions based on Asterisk (News - Alert) and SIP.
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions? How do they justify the expense to management?
MT: KONNECT gives our customers a flexible and scalable phone system that can save them money on the system itself as well as their recurring telecom expenses. With no server to buy and support for multi-site built into the phones the customer can purchase a full KONNECT system at much lower cost than alternate solutions.
As a hybrid analog/IP solution, the KONNECT Office Phone System lets the customer keep their landlines and phone numbers while giving them the flexibility to migrate to VoIP at their pace to take advantage of cost savings and emerging services. Our solution allows our customers to operate the way they want, and improve their ability to communicate with customers and suppliers. As such, they find it is straightforward and simple to justify the purchase decision.

Learn more about Aksys Networks at ITEXPO West — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Visit Aksys Networks at booth #526 in the exhibit hall. Don’t wait. Register now.

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Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.


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