Getting back to the conference, the exhibit floor has a good mix of vendors-big and small. Some big names include Cisco (of course), Avaya, Nortel, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, Siemens, and IBM. The carriers are also there, including AT&T, Verizon Business, and Sprint. I had a chance to briefly catch up with Fred Knight, general manager of VoiceCon, who told me managed and hosted services are finally taking off, since carriers have been busy with acquisitions and haven't done much in this space. The exhibit floor this year has a much more definitive set of hosted offerings.
Some other big areas vendors are tackling this year include:
- Unified communications (on laptops and mobile devices)
- Adoption of Web services
- Migration to software in telephony
- New platforms based on open standards
One company that really stands out at VoiceCon is Avaya. The Internet Protocol telephony provider put a lot of effort into promoting itself to the attendees, including hiring people to ride around on segways and handing out water. The ad on the segways reads: "I'm on my way to intelligent communications… Follow me to Avaya." That's really clever marketing.
It's easy to get excited about hyped up products and services that won't come to fruition for a couple of years at shows like VoiceCon. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the amount of products and services that were showcased and already available for companies to deploy. Johan Krebbers, group IT architect of Royal Dutch Shell, stressed in his keynote the importance of replacing the company's many PBXs with IP telephony. I think that speaks volumes about the state of the industry.