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FierceVoIP Leaders: Roberta Mackintosh, Executive Director of Advanced Voice and UC, Verizon Business

November 6, 2008 | Chris Payatagool

Roberta_Mackintosh.jpgBy Pete Wylie

FierceVoIP sat down with Roberta Mackintosh, Executive Director of Advanced Voice and UC&C for Verizon Business, to discuss the VoIP industry and Verizon Business's plans for unified communications.

Fierce VoIP: What are some key trends you see emerging in the VoIP space right now?

Mackintosh: If we take a macro view, you have to recognize the explosion of unified communications and advanced voice products. It's gone from 18 months ago, when we were just having conversations with some large, lead clients about unified communications, to now when it's at the forefront of their communications strategy. We're seeing a lot of interest in people wanting to make decisions in voice telephony that will help them evolve to the UC solution that fits their company the best.

FierceVoIP: What are some of the ways you tailor solutions to individual companies?

Mackintosh: We want to give our clients a clear understanding of our approach to unified communications solutions and the capabilities of our systems, so that we can match them to their expectations for their products. We need to understand what they're trying achieve with unified communications to assist them in meeting their objectives.

Since Verizon Business is an IP communications specialist and has capabilities across the board, we can provide VoIP-based inbound and outbound calling, automated calling, unified communications or a hybrid solution depending on the customer and its situation. We work with several different vendors and have significant inventory to find the best match of products and services for the individual client.

FierceVoIP: What do you think will be the driver(s) for growth in the space as we enter 2009?

Mackintosh: I think people are seeing two key benefits in IP communications, and especially unified communications. The first one is the personnel benefit. Efficiency increases with unified communications because there is more control gained over work flow and time management. The second benefit is business applications, and this is not fully recognized yet. As the applications begin to really demonstrate good ROI, I think they are going to really drive growth.

FierceVoIP: Can you think of specific verticals that stand to gain from integrating business applications and unified communications deployments?

Mackintosh: Shipping companies, for instance, can identify problems more easily and stop shipments before they go out with something that's just going to have to be recalled. Keeping one shipment back so that the problem can be identified and remedied would have significant benefit logistically and financially for that company. It's also a mystery to see how much benefit could come from UC deployments to the government sector, especially at the state and local level. The higher education space is also one to watch closely. The challenges we have in both markets is really finding and testing the applications that will make a difference for their employees.

FierceVoIP: What are some roadblocks you have seen to unified communications adoption?

Mackintosh: If the CIO's of the organizations are not intimately aware of the business processes of the rest of the employees, that can cause them not to implement the business applications to full potential. We also want to shift the functionality from a manual process to an automatic one, so that the solution is as easy to use as possible. That really helps bring UC into a business. I think it will be awhile before you see really widespread UC adoption, because it has some stepping stones to get over, such as making all applications IP-based and platform agnostic.

FierceVoIP: Who do you see as Verizon Business's biggest competitor in the space?

Most of our traditional competitors have an offering they are pitching as a unified communications solution, but when you look at the services, it's really not a full UC product. AT&T, for instance, bought a conferencing company and basically renamed that division as unified communications. BT operates more on a big deal basis, and doesn't integrate as well because Verizon Business has a unique perspective and gives honest advice about which product will work best for the individual customer, since we're not tied to a specific vendor. We are seeing some aggressive expansions by Microsoft, Cisco and Nortel that we're watching closely.

[via FierceVoIP]

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