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September 26, 2012

What Telecom Innovation Means to the Masses

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Trends in the telecommunications space often closely mirror those in other industries, as the former tends to compliment – and support – all others. When spending is down in one, it also tends to be down in telecommunications. When new innovations are introduced to improve efficiency and productivity, however, the tide can quickly change.

As consumers are increasingly mobile and connected, the business sector is following suit.

Connectivity and the technologies that support it are often on display at the ITEXPO (News - Alert) events. In preparation for this year’s ITEXPO West in Austin, Texas next month, TMC talked with Joseph Katz, chief marketing officer at Hold-Free Networks, to get his insight on current trends and what companies are doing to benefit from industry changes.

While the debate still rages over whether or not cloud computing is a one-size-fits-all solution, vendors on both sides are vying for market share.

To that end, the debate is certainly affecting business purchasing decisions. Those companies seeking to reduce their CAPEX are considering the benefits associated with cloud computing. Likewise, those companies worried about putting their proprietary information into the hands of a third party are putting their faith in tried and true on-premises solutions.

This power struggle is very evident for Katz, and businesses are taking much more time evaluating risk, return and time-to-value in all their decisions.

As this struggle ensues, it does not mean there isn’t opportunity and growth. Vendors are recognizing the opportunity to educate customers and businesses are benefitting from the extra attention. Decision makers are forced to pay closer attention to information sources, however, ensuring the information they receive is for their benefit and not for the vendor seeking to boost quarterly revenues.

The most important thing for a company to do is to get into the conversation – something Katz stresses is the smartest move.

The conversation in the telecommunications space has lately centered on the patent lawsuit between Apple and Samsung (News - Alert) and the outcome. Many in the industry believe the verdict will significantly impact the industry and could even lead to patent reform. But will it really change the behavior of either company involved?

Katz puts it well: “I don’t think so. When a company worth $600 billion wins a billion dollar verdict from a company worth $180 billion, it’s like losing a wager on the golf course. I doubt it will change the behavior of either company…or any large company for that matter.”

The same may not be able to be said for the smaller company, however. Those seeking to protect their innovations may worry about their chances against a giant industry player if overlaps in technology exist, or are at least perceived. This reality could lead to reform of the U.S. patent system. Katz points to the value of the America Invents Act and the consistency it delivers. And while the first-to-file rule could hurt the smaller companies, they’re still more innovative and nimble, which is a clear advantage.

This advantage could go a long way for those companies developing video solutions that meet the needs of the smaller businesses. Video continues to be in huge demand, with quality of service and cost key factors in the decision. It not only enables presence to reduce travel costs and improve face-to-face interactions; it also enables a hands-on experience. This experience was a reality for the Olympic Games this year as connectivity enabled real-time results while fans everywhere streamed events.

This capability, however, highlighted just how large the gap is between streaming video and the coverage delivered by NBC.

The technology available to the masses not only affects a viewing experience; it can also impact the outcomes of political races – when used correctly. Voters are increasingly connected, ensuring they have information and updates in real-time. How this capability is exploited by the candidates could dictate their ability to get elected.

According to Katz, “I don’t think it will be as simple as looking at which candidate has the higher Klout score. Should be interesting...”

When considering the technological innovations available at our fingertips, most of us have a wish list, complete with the latest and greatest we would like to have, once they become available. For Katz – and likely many others – an Easy Button is at the top of the list. Like most consumers, he wants simplicity, something that will save time, anticipate his needs and proactively address them – all without hassle. The first vendor to offer such a solution will likely rule the world.

This same convenience extends to the smartphone and its ability to pay for retail purchases when the mobile wallet becomes available. Like any new technology that pushes our ability to trust, there are likely to be those who resist the convenience. Katz won’t be one of them – he’s ready for this simplification and is confident it will happen.

Buying decisions today really center on the customer experience. At ITEXPO, this will be a key focus for Katz and Hold-Free Networks. “Attendees can casually visit our “living room” setting and walk away a few minutes later armed with three new ways to improve the customer experience. All while leveraging the cloud to minimize risk. It’s a great opportunity to get questions answered too…it’ll be kind of like Apple’s Genius (News - Alert) Bar over at Booth #519.”

Aside from this experience, Katz is looking forward to the opportunity to interact with analysts, customers and even competitors. He’s also excited about the keynote from Rob Carter at FedEx, and will be participating in a session focused on consumer attitudes toward sharing social data with companies. This is an important topic as Katz believes a new wave of innovation is on the horizon in the next few years as technology solves some major problems plaguing the human race.

Is he right? We’ll have to wait and see. 

To find out more about Joseph Katz and Hold-Free Networks, visit the company at ITEXPO Austin 2012. To be held Oct. 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Katz is speaking at the session, Oh Brother, Big Brother: Consumer Attitudes Toward Sharing Social Data with Companies. For more information on ITEXPO Austin 2012, click here.

Edited by Braden Becker
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