One of the VoIP services that I use quite often is Junction Network’s OnSIP VoIP service (especially good when using with Rf.com on the Apple iPhone), so it is only natural to have their CEO, Mike Oeth tell me a little bit more about what he’s sees as the near future of VoIP. Mike is an industry veteran, having held number senior level positions in at a variety of software, telecommunications, managed services and Internet companies. Prior to Junction Networks, Mike was with AboveNet, Inc, formerly Metromedia Fiber Network, Inc., a facilities-based provider of end-to-end optical solutions for communications carriers, corporate and government customers in the United States and Europe. He has also served as the CTO of LivePerson, Inc., the award-winning industry leader in live chat customer service over the Web.
If you can’t tell, Mike is a “what’s next” kind of guy. Let’s see what he has to say.
Mobile VoIP was one sector of the industry that really took off in 2008, what sector(s) do you think will take off or see tremendous growth in 2009?
Additionally we see ‘presence’ as an emerging technology. For business users either at remote locations or utilizing Mobile VOIP, it is convenient to know when your co-workers are available.
Who are the VoIP companies to watch over the next six to twelve months? Who will have the hottest products and or will be releasing the most innovative or game changing services?
We at Junction Networks are still big fans of Digium and Counterpath. Digium/Switchvox will continue to innovate. Counterpath, if they go aggressively after the handset market, will also do well.
We have been testing FreeSwitch for some of our hosted applications and we like the platform. We are looking for them to continue to improve during 2009.
Lastly, we are very excited about our own ‘dashboard’ application due to launch in 2009. It incorporates presence, instant messaging and real-time call indication. It is revolutionary in a hosted environment. (Remember that you heard it here first.)
What consumer and or business market segments or verticals are the looking the most attractive for VoIP companies over the next six months to a year?
The business market segment is by far the most attractive. In this economy, business are looking to cut costs. They look to IT to help in that and IT turns to VOIP. A VOIP provider that can capitalize on the needs of businesses in a cost-cutting environment will do well.
Do you foresee any sizeable shifts in the type of businesses that will be potentially migrating to VoIP in the next six months to a year? Are they the same as this year or will they be different?
At Junction Networks we are still seeing the early adopters. We see tech-savvy customers looking for solutions. There is no discernable pattern to our customer base other than their level of technical sophistication. We have customers in nearly all market segments and as small as two seats and as large as 100+.
The shift in the type of business migrating to VOIP that we a planning on is the shift to businesses with less technical know-how. VOIP will become more mainstream. Those VOIP providers that can create an easy-to-use interface for provisioning and billing will be successful.
Some feel the VoIP industry will actually benefit from a recession, since consumers and businesses will be looking for low-cost alternatives, while some feel that the industry will feel pain as well, since many will look to put off technology and infrastructure improvements until more certain times, what’s your take?
Junction Networks has had three record months in a row. We are seeing little effect from the economic downturn. VOIP companies that require a large start-up fee might be hurt in this environment, but other than purchasing phones, Junction Networks has minimal (typically under $20) setup fees.
Based on your answer to number 5, what advice you offer to companies in the VoIP industry for the next year? What are you doing to make sure that your company continues to grow?
Company-wise, our advice, and the advice we are following internally, is to watch your balance sheet like a hawk. It is difficult to raise additional capital or to obtain capital leases. Watch your bottom line so that you don’t get into a credit crunch.
Products-wise, our advice is to keep the switching costs to a minimum. Make it easy and inexpensive for companies to switch to your product.
We are continuing to grow by actually increasing our marketing spend and continuing to hire. We are watching the bottom line, but we see this as an opportunity to grow and expand.
With the number of open source telephony platforms continuing to grow each month it seems, will open source telephony continue to grow in importance and prominence during 2009?
We hope so! We are fully committed to open source and open standards. We use a combination of Asterisk, FreeSwitch and OpenSIPS (formerly OpenSER). We are excited by the progress made by Digium and others in the open source telephony front. Open source, combined with open standards, like SIP, are one of the main differentiators for Junction Networks.
Will 2009 finally be the year that Unified Communications see a big “adoption rate” increase?
Personally I still don’t see it. I use e-mail for certain types of communications; instant messaging for others and phone calls for other types still. It depends on the message, the response, the time of day, etc. I just don’t see it.
What I *do* see is a unification of addresses. Currently you can e-mail, SIP call and instant message me at email@example.com. For me, that’s real unified communications.
Anything else to add about the next year?
Our hope is that VOIP becomes an open eco-system. We want our customers to be able to use VOIP applications ‘in the cloud.’
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