Unified communications vendor Zultys (News - Alert) has been hard at work coming up with a new release and, because it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to share what they are up to, I reached out to interview Neil Lichtman (News - Alert), Chairman & CEO of the company. He was gracious enough to give his views on a range of areas from the future of unified communications to the challenges facing channel partners. Excerpts from our interview follow – you can read the full interview, including more details on the MX 11.0 release HERE.
Is technology changing business for the better? Why/why not?
We believe, if used properly, technology definitely can change business for the better, by improving communication both internally within an organization and with a business’ clients and vendors. The better and more efficiently a business can handle communications with both groups the better for that business economically and for customer satisfaction. Look at the changes mobility and BYOD have brought to the business world. Whether it be by voice, instant messaging or texting, organizations can now respond faster to the needs of their clients anytime, anywhere.
Zultys has always focused on improving our clients’ ability to communicate more effectively and efficiently both internally and externally. MX release 11.0 delivers many exciting features and expands upon our strategic goal of cross platform compatibility. MX Release 11.0 has the same exact user and administration experience regardless of our customer’s method of deployment – cloud, on-premises, or hybrid deployment methods, which we have been delivering for quite some time.
What do you say to industry observers who say UC is dead?
Not to be a wise guy, but I say they should go home! The industry and the users continue to evolve in their methods of communicating and require more efficient, better ways of communication. UC not only allows companies to conduct business better, but it allows employees to be more productive. If they think it’s dead, they don’t understand the value UC offers businesses. Ok, now I will be a wise guy: They probably still use a flip phone.
How is cloud computing shaking up your product/service offerings? How has it impacted your competitive market?
Based on everything we read and are seeing in the field, cloud computing is a rapidly growing business. We are very fortunate in that our engineering group was able to develop our software to run either on-premises or in the cloud long before our competitors. Our software is exactly the same in any deployment model – it’s not less featured or lower in functionality – it’s exactly the same user and technical experience. Our end users can either deploy an on-premises version on our MX systems, a cloud version on VMware in their data center, in our channel partner’s data center or in our data centers. We introduced Zultys Cloud Services, our fully hosted phone system offering so that customers can rent a total communication system on a monthly basis and we provide a single monthly invoice for all our services. To answer your question directly, it has positioned us to be extremely competitive and to give customers the ability to deploy a communication system the way they want it versus the way other competitors may only be able to offer it. We believe our customers should have the freedom to choose the best deployment method for their business.
What has been the most impactful development or trend in 2015 that is changing how industry players need to do business?
In my opinion, first, those within our industry, especially channel partners, need to make sure they are building a sustainable recurring revenue stream for their business. With the growth and acceptance of hosted products in the marketplace now the window of opportunity exists for them to be able to do this successfully and profitably with the right partner. The other trend I see is the beginning of a real period of consolidation within the industry over the next few years. I believe this will eventually be as impactful on our industry as we saw earlier on in the telecom industry during the 1980s and 1990s.
Are channel partners keeping up with the latest products and services or is more training and education required?
With the multitude of product offerings out there, I feel the pain for all channel partners. Keeping up with the latest is a task that needs to be on everyone’s daily to do list, and they need to be able to run their business at the same time. Continuing education and training is critical or you get left behind. In our case, this was one of the driving forces to make our software the same, regardless of deployment model, so the channel partners would not need to train technicians or sales people on additional products.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi