First, an introduction. Andy Abramson is the founder of Comunicano, Inc., a 30-person asymmetrical communications consultancy, geared to providing clients with Senior Advising, Marketing Communications, Corporate Communications and Marketer-In-Residence services. He works with start-ups, companies in transition and established brands with regard to marketing, advertising, public relations, promotion, events and reputation management in the technology, consumer products and business to business markets. Andy is a veteran of the media, marketing and public relations industries, and has 36 years of experience in all facets of marketing and corporate communications. He started his career in the marketing department of a professional sports team at age 14 before earning his degree in Journalism from Temple University.
In the period of 2005-present sixteen Comunicano startup clients have been acquired by companies including Cisco, IBM, Google, eBay, Nokia and other similar companies. In the past year Citrix Online acquired HighDefConferencing while Logitech acquired client SightSpeed. Most recently, SabseBolo acquired Mobivox.
Q: You are a well-known blogger in the VoIP space as well as being a top-notch PR person and influential voice of reason in this field. How do you see the role of your blog?
A: The role of VoIPWatch is to help others understand how Voice over IP, Video Communications and other forms of real time communications impact society. On an almost daily basis I look at the stories behind the stories, evaluate what they mean and help make sense out of them by providing a perspective, with insight, from someone who is not technical.
Q: What do you see as the defining characteristics that set modern telephony or VoIP companies apart from older telcos and even mobile phone operators?
A: Imagination. The new companies are not bound by philosophies that have been driven based on amortization, return on investment over a set time, depreciation or any of the old school business methodologies. They also don’t worry about antiquated management approaches like head count or fear of throwing away a failed idea and continuing to try to make it work. They go out and find or create new ideas, embrace the new technology and deploy those new ideas with much less friction than the old school companies.
Q: What are the most exciting developments in VoIP and telephony that you have seen in the past year in terms of changes that are coming that will benefit businesses?
A: Businesses benefits when they save money, see growth, reduce time to market, increase market share. Online real time communications has just begun to play a role in online business. But those online businesses have already taken the market share away from traditional brick and mortar retail. We no longer need to go to a book store to buy a book, or even have one delivered. We can acquire better products, from anywhere in the world via online retailers, and now, with better and easier to implement voice and video communications get the same kind of support we used to get face to face, without leaving the house or the office.
Q: How about changes that you anticipate in the coming year?
A: Clearly this is the year of video. Over the last twelve months we’ve seen former client SightSpeed exit successfully when Logitech acquired them. This past month Cisco acquired Tandberg and will begin to create an eco-system of video from the handheld (their purchase of Pure Digital for FLIP) to the executive suite and everything in between. Skype will likely deploy multiparty video in 2010, and competitors like ooVoo will seek to cut into a market that is just emerging, in an era where faster bandwidth becomes more common and reaches more people in more places.
Q: If you could recommend two services or products that are NOT associated with you as clients, what would they be?
A: I’m very bullish on the pocketspots. They are the pocket size 3G and 4G devices from Novatel Wireless and Cradlepoint that send and receive data over wireless broadband networks and then send the signal to any WiFi connected device. The mobile data service that connects to them is available from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon today, and soon from T-Mobile, but the real boost comes as we see more 4G coverage via Mobile WiMax from Clearwire.
Q: How about two that ARE?
A: We are very bullish on conferencing and collaboration’s future growth potential. Clients HiDef Conferencing which is now part of Citrix Online and Iotum’s Calliflower both approach the market from different starting points. As more companies deploy and permit their knowledge workers to operate away from a central office, and as being more environmental (i.e. Green) the services which can take advantage of high speed connectivity enable more work to be done without the need for a “fixed office.” The funny thing here, is just like with VoIPWatch which started in 2003, I started another blog called Working Anywhere – a few years later to focus on how road warriors and the disparate work force can continue to stay connected without needing to be in the so called “office.”
Q: If you could recommend one thing to a startup business that needs to get its first phone service, what would that be?
A: Real business grade broadband. DSL and basic cable modem service may be good if they want to do one mode of communications at a time, but if you’re going to be doing business you need high quality, higher speed broadband, with lower latency, and less line loss. Most of the hosted IP-PBX services, like client OnSip, connect from virtually everywhere, but without quality bandwidth, the calls won’t be that enjoyable.
Our thanks to Andy Abramson for kicking off our regular series of interviews with thought leaders in the VoIP, telephony and communications space.
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