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Publisher's Outlook June 2002

Rich Tehrani

In Praise Of The Light At The End Of The Tunnel


As far as economic downturns go, the one were still struggling through is one of the toughest Ive ever had the misfortune to guide a company through. But Ill be honest, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, and Im pretty certain that its not a freight train bearing down on us. Im not going out on a limb in this editorial at least not to the point of making an outlandish prediction of a full turnaround by August 14th or some such arbitrary date, but I will go on record as saying that weve seen some really positive signs this year.

As you know, TMC in addition to publishing this magazine, the only truly focused magazine left standing in our industry is also a leading trade show producer, responsible for (among others) the Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO that comes about twice each year. Every February we find ourselves in Miami, and every October we set up shop at the Hotel Del Coronado just off the coast of San Diego. Well, this years show in Miami was one we approached with much trepidation. The market had yet to show any positive signs, the travel industry was still suffering the aftereffects of September 11th, and the trade-show industry in general was not enjoying the greatest attendance figures. To our pleasant surprise the Miami event attracted an overflow crowd of people looking to spend money and purchase solutions right then and there. In fact, over 85 percent of the people I polled in the keynote address indicated they came to the show because they were seeking solutions to buy.

It seemed to me then, and even more so now, with the benefit of hindsight, that the industry was poised for a meaningful recovery.

That feeling of optimism has only become more prevalent since then. My experience at the recent Voice on the Net show in Seattle leads me to believe that most industry players are by and large more confident of late than they have been in the past 18 months. Everyone I spoke to was imbued with a sense that good things were just around the bend. More than that nebulous sense of something goods about to happen to our industry, I think the activity at shows such as VoN and Internet Telephony Conference and EXPO is more of a barometer of the state of the industry. To wit, the activity at VoN was measurably greater in Seattle than it had been at the previous event much like the experience I had in February at our own show. Which leads me to optimistically extrapolate that the activity at Octobers Internet Telephony Conference and EXPO will be better still.

Its the return to trade shows of the quality attendee, the interested buyer, the serious tire kicker that signals the advent of better times in our industry.

Another positive sign is the level of interest were seeing from government organizations, and enterprises in general. While the equipment manufacturers are still struggling vis--vis their carrier customers, enterprises are driving this industry forward. As the Special Focus feature in our April issue, Internet Telephony in the Enterprise showed us, the enterprise is increasingly turning to IP telephony technology as a viable alternative to traditional telephony solutions.

Id also like to point to a recent press release I just received from Sphere Communications (www.spherecom.com) an enterprise broadband communications leader. The release hailed Spheres recent successes in establishing partnerships with over 20 channel organizations in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Following on the heels of industry analysts reports citing increasing numbers of enterprise organizations making deployment decisions, Sphere felt it was critical to be prepared with a solid channel strategy.

According to Morgan Mann, director of sales for Sphere, Since the beginning of the year, we have seen a flurry of activity as savvy integrators and telecommunications providers aggressively pursue IP telephony and unified communications solutions to add to their product line-up. They recognize the business value of having an alternative to traditional PBX and Centrex offerings to meet specific communications needs of growing and distributed enterprise customers.

Likewise, the release quotes Kent Hunter, CEO of The Tenax Corporation (www.tenaxts.com), a software development and outsourcing company, There is increasing awareness among IT professionals that multi-service networking or voice, data, and video convergence represents an excellent investment outcome for an organization.

Its comments like the one from Hunter, which lead me to believe that this industry is on the brink of comeback. The positive experiences of recent industry events such as VoN and Internet Telephony Conference and EXPO, and the breadth and quality of early exhibitor signups for our October event are inspiring. Its nice to be in a position to see that light at the end of the tunnel, knowing full well that good things are indeed headed our way. If youve seen something in your day-to-day dealings that heralds the coming recovery, drop me a line at rtehrani@tmcnet.com and let me know. Good news is always welcome. 

[ Return To The June 2002 Table Of Contents ]

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