This $22B Business is Ripe for Disruption!

If I would tell you that the Telephone Industry is about to be disrupted, you would probably think that I am off my rocker, right?

We have seen so much disruption in the last 10 years, VoIP, Skype, Vonage, Whatsapp, Viber etc. etc. It is hard to believe that there is still something is still waiting for change.

Well there is! Stay with me for 2 minutes and I will explain. Almost all businesses have some kind of Switchboard aka as a PBX, Phone System, IVR, or Auto Attendant. In fact there are around 62 million active phone extensions in businesses in the USA alone.

For years businesses have installed a system on their premises. Companies like Panasonic, Tadiran, Avaya, Nortel and LG made tons from selling and servicing these systems.

Then, along came “The Cloud” and companies were told you can now save on your CAPEX, there is no need to buy a box for your phone system anymore. We will put a box in The Cloud for you and you can connect your phones to our box over the internet. Now it is the turn of companies like RingCentral, 8X8, Vonage Business and others to make tons charging businesses $30 a month (and up) per extension for their phone service. RingCentral (NYSE: RNG) is trading at crazy multiples and the landrush is on with new service providers joining the fray every day.

But, there is a catch. These “Cloud” phone companies do not innovate. They put the switchboard boxes in the cloud, but they are still complicated to use and service providers still employ large support staffs. Moreover the cost of customer acquisition is sky high and RingCentral the current leading player is losing over $30m a year.

So what will happen next? Lets look at a few points –

The majority of businesses are still on old “on premise” legacy systems. The “new” cloud systems are complicated to use. Gross Margins (before support expenses) are obscenely high.

The time is ripe for someone to come along and build a phone system for small businesses that is easy to setup, easy to maintain and costs less than the existing solutions.

Stay Tuned. Disruption is coming.

The Network is Dead. Long Live the Telecom API

Believe it or not, some people still buy their phone service, their phones and all their applications from the same company. And it isn’t a small business, the Big Telcos generate billions and billions from this.

In the ole days whoever owned the network owned the customer and had a license to print money. You have to be blind not to realize that this is changing, much faster then we think.

The Cloud, Apps and APIs are no longer buzzwords! They are here today and replacing The Network. A day doesn’t pass without another company announcing that they have published an API. Today it was Rebtel, a long time provider of cheap calls for travelers. Continue reading

Project REBOOT: WebRTC is Definitely For Winners!

While traveling to London for the WebRTC Summit, I read Dave Michels’ post “WebRTC is for losers“. After three very interesting days there, I can not disagree more.

To put my comments in context, lets step back for a moment and remind ourselves what is WebRTC? Do you use the web? Do you need to download anything to read text, view photos, fill out a form, pay with a credit card, chat with a friend? No you don’t. Well five years ago Serge Lachapelle and a few other people asked the question why can’t you communicate with voice & video on the web? Why do you need special clients and/or extensions? Continue reading

Project REBOOT: IP Telephony is exciting again!

When we look back at IP Telephony (or what was called in the ole days – VoIP), we can discern three unique stages. Stage I – the invention and introduction of VoIP services by the likes of Vocaltec, Deltathree etc. Stage II – the launch of Hosted Services by companies like Vonage, Packet 8, Ring Central and of course yours truly. Stage III – is just starting and is truly exciting.

We can define Stage I by calling it the “Pipes Era”, replacing legacy telecom pipes with shiny new VoIP pipes that transport the bits and bytes of our voice from one side of the world to the other at very low cost. Stage II – has become known as the “Cloud Era” where new providers took legacy phone systems and trucked them over to “The Cloud”.

Ok, so we replaced the pipes and removed the boxes from our offices. Bottom line we are talking costs savings and some convenience, but where is the innovation?? Well it is almost here! Continue reading

Project REBOOT: Entrepreneurs – How Advanced is Too Advanced?

A big part of my rebooting is meeting with entrepreneurs and other thought leaders. I am interested in hearing what they have to say about the future of business communications. Recently I had a discussion with Jacob Ner David, a serial entrepreneur and recently one of the founders of Zula.

While we were brainstorming about different features and how customers communicate with a business, Jacob made a remark, which raised a question that should be on the mind of every entrepreneur developing a new product. Continue reading

Please Join me on Project:REBOOT

Since we founded The Flat Planet Phone Company in 2006 we have been doing the same thing. Providing Small Businesses and Call Centers the best Hosted PBX System with unbelievable support.

At the time we were a pioneer. Today there are hundreds if not thousands of providers. It is time to look ahead and
become a pioneer again! While I am very proud of what our team has done, building a successful and profitable organisation with thousands of customers, the world is changing and we we need to change with it!

Therefore I decided to step back and for the next few months work on Project:REBOOT. I plan to learn more about technology, the market and users needs, speak with thought leaders and poll our customers. We don’t want to be another me too company! We need to look 5 and 10 years ahead and built solutions based on the future not the past.

I am inviting you my friends and colleagues to join me on this exciting journey. Don’t be shy! Let me know what you think about the future of business communications!

Omega Telecom is going to Macau and not to Gamble!

They say Macau is the Las Vegas of the East. While Vegas is definitely not one of my favorite destinations, I have been there numerous times to attend and exhibit at industry conferences. So it is with mixed feelings I am planning our trip next month to Macau for the IFXEXPO (the biggest B2B Finance Conference) . On one hand I am excited to learn more about the exploding Forex and Binary Options market in that part of the world, on the other hand I really don’t like the glitz!

As the leading provider of Telecom solutions for the Forex market since 2007, we see how many of our customers are opening up offices in Singapore, China, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand so it is time that we strengthen our presence there.
After all we got where we are by providing the solutions and services that our customers need where they need them!

As many of you know Omega Telecom provides phone numbers and Dynamic Caller ID in over 60 countries. We also probably have the best and most cost effective Call Center solution for the Forex market.
So if you are plan on taking part in IFXEXPO make sure to stop by the Omega Telecom booth #17 at the Venetian Hotel, Macau on January 22nd and 23rd. It will be definitely worth your while!

OK, So Why Do People Immigrate?

Historically, immigration was caused by economic or political reasons. Wars, religious persecution, economic hardships have all been strong factors behind immigration trends over the years.

Surprisingly, over the last decade a new factor has joined the list. Technology is not only changing the way we live, but also where we live! On the forefront of these life changing technologies is IP Telephony (also known as VoIP – voice over Internet Protocol).

Nowhere is this more evident than in the State of Israel. Tens of thousands of new immigrants to the Startup Nation are employed in jobs that would not have existed without VoIP (Which by coincidence, or not, was first invented and patented in Israel). In fact many new immigrants made the decision to move to Israel, based on the knowledge that they would be able to continue their existing job in their new home due to VoIP.

How does this work? We all are familiar how we can see our email from any computer no matter where we are, just by entering our user name and password. Well with VoIP, a telephone number is just like an email address. I can take my VoIP phone and plug it anywhere in the world and calls made to my NY number will ring there. Physically in Timbuktu or Kalamazoo, telephone-wise I am in NY and no one knows otherwise…

Joe Asher is a good example. Joe was a stock market analyst living in Los Angeles with his wife and three kids. Since they finished college, Joe and his wife had dreams of moving to Israel. One day sitting at home during their Sabbath meal, they decided to make the move. “With the kids starting school, it was either now or putting off our dream until we retire”, Joe related.
Today the Asher family lives in Jerusalem, Joe works for a NY investment firm while sitting in a small 2 desk office in Jerusalem. On his phone are two buttons, one for his Israeli number and one for the his USA number.

But VoIP is not only for individuals. Aryeh Freund the CEO of Newtel Systems (a Lawrence, NY based IP Telephony Provider for the SMB market) relates with excitement the story of “1-800-ICE” (not their real name). “It is unbelievable what they are doing. They are disrupting a whole consumer sector back in the states, a sector with a legacy of high pricing, “1-800-ICE” is offering customization, low prices, fast delivery and great customer service, all from their office in a suburb of Tel Aviv!”
Newtel provided “1-800-ICE” with a USA 800 number and customers don’t have a clue that when they call this innovative company they are actually speaking to someone in Israel.

Based on the number of telephone lines that Newtel and other IP Telephony companies are selling to Israeli based companies, success stories like these are only the beginning.