Cisco Execs: VoIP Enables Innovation

Mark Monday and Kerry McDonough, executives in Cisco Systems Inc.’s small business unit say “VoIP has enabled innovation in telephony like nothing before it,” consolidating networks, providing tighter integration between computer and phone and driving down management costs.

The two gentlemen, vice president of the new Small Business Technology Group and U.S. direct of small business sales, respectively, will deliver a keynote address, “The Future of VoIP for Small Business,” at 9-10 a.m., Wednesday, in Islander F as part of SMB Nation’s 2010 VoIP Workshop, which is colocated with the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, March 1-3, at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. As part of the colocation agreement, full conference attendees at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo can participate in the SMB Nation education programming at no additional charge. SMB Nation is a publishing and events company, targeted at the small and medium business technology consultant and reseller community.

“Consumer adoption of technology combined with higher bandwidth and more reliable Internet connections from ISPs and mobile providers, are going to be major catalysts for the advancement of VoIP,” the execs said in an advance interview. “Video telephony is still slow to adopt in small business because they are not used to the technology, however, just like with instant messaging, as consumers look to communicate with friends and family via video capabilities in Skype or AIM, we will see higher adoption rates of this with small business customers too.”

The two execs also will broach the subject of hosted vs. premises-based VoIP. “It is not a matter of picking sides,” they said. “It is a matter of what is right for the customer.” Premises-based and hosted have unique value propositions and deliver different users experiences, they explained. “There are some small business owners that are adamant about owning their phone system and don’t feel comfortable knowing that after three years of payments they don’t own it, so premise is going to continually be the right match for them. On the other hand, we have customers that have several locations with only a few phones at each site, which is very costly for premise, but ideal for hosted.”

Cisco, they said, wants to make sure that as a customer’s requirements change, Cisco technology can adapt with them, so its premises and hosted solutions leverage common components like the phone, switch and router. “This enables a customer to start out with one solution and easily transition to the other. That is something that is very unique to Cisco,” they said.

They also will touch on the evolution to unified communications, which is about unifying different communication tools and devices, like phone, IM, e-mail, or Web with productivity applications. “As a result, each user can have the same basic experience, regardless of whether they are in a fixed location or mobile,” they said, citing the example of being able to click to dial out of a CRM application, record the time the call was made, and enter in notes about the call, whether you are initiating that call from your computer, an app on your desktop phone, or on a mobile device.

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