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CEO Spotlight
August 2003

Craig Rauchle, Co-CEO & COO, Inter-TelIn 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 interviewed Craig W. Rauchle, CO-CEO and COO of Inter-Tel, Inc.

What is Inter-Tel�s mission?
CR: Inter-Tel is focused on delivering advanced, practical, and accountable voice and data communications solutions, including hardware, software, applications, carrier services, and support to the small- to medium-enterprise market throughout North America and Europe.

IT: What is your vision for Inter-Tel and how is the company positioned in the next-generation telecom market?
CR: Our vision is to position Inter-Tel as a �single source provider� for enterprise�s communications needs. We are positioned to plan and manage all of our customers� current communications requirements, and help them leverage new applications and technologies when it makes sense from a business ROI standpoint. Most importantly, our vision helps the enterprise focus on doing what they do best -- running their own businesses without worrying about technology, integration, and interoperability. That�s our job.

IT: Describe some of the key decisions that you have made to steer your company through the recent challenging financial straits?
CR: Although recent times have been challenging for every manufacturer, Inter-Tel has fared a lot better than many of our competitors because we have always been diligent in our execution and focused. Our core competency has always been addressing the needs of the SME marketplace (50 to 500 ports). We�ve never strayed into other businesses like the router, optical, or carrier market, which has helped insulate us from the deep problems many other companies have experienced.

One of the most important decisions we have made is the move to deliver the �Inter-Tel Managed Services� solutions to the market. Clearly, companies are looking for communications products, applications, and services that will maximize productivity and reduce costs. But that isn�t enough. We have taken the stance that Inter-Tel has to help customers enhance and improve their entire business process, not just from a telecom perspective, but enterprise-wide. When we do that, then we know we offer real value that make us indispensable in the eyes of our customers.

IT: What makes Inter-Tel�s services unique and how can a client benefit from using them?
CR: Certainly the fact that our company is focused on the SME market makes us unique. We know who we are, and what we offer our customers. What�s more, Inter-Tel is currently the only company in our space that can provide businesses with the breadth of products and services they need. These include carrier services, network planning and provisioning, custom development of applications, financial programs to help customers maximize their cash flow, and of course, advanced platforms, applications and endpoints for any environment, including IP, SIP, digital, analog, and wireless.

Our customers benefit from this approach because we take the guesswork out of managing technology. It is Inter-Tel�s job to deliver the right integrated technology, applications, service, and support to give the enterprise the tools it needs to increase efficiency and prosperity. We worry about the technology and its appropriate deployment, so our customers won�t have to. This has been our philosophy for over 30 years, and we see this message resonating even louder today.

IT: What is the most pressing issue facing our industry today, and what can be done to alleviate this problem?
CR: In reviewing the competitive landscape, I believe the industry will be exposed to continued turmoil in the coming years. Basic voice communication will become commoditized, forcing the industry to remove itself from only selling technology and price. The industry will be required to identify and deliver value-added applications. In the meantime, providers will struggle to move away from current business practices, and traditional PBX manufacturers are going to be challenged to change their historical mindset and focus on designing practical and efficient applications that will meet these new emerging demands.

IT: Describe your view of the future of the IP telephony industry?
CR: Right now, we are in a renaissance phase of IP telephony. Businesses understand how they can reduce cost by eliminating network redundancy. There�s nothing new there. What they will enjoy down the road is the proliferation of new applications and tools that dramatically improve business processes. We�ll see wireless communications become more prevalent, and we are going to see a whole new breadth of �presence� applications and collaboration tools that let team members, associates, and partners communicate in real time, regardless of location. We are going to see significant, massive improvements in the way customers conduct their business -- resulting in an exciting time for the future of IP telephony and Inter-Tel.

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