Unified Communications Featured Article

Apptix Predicts Bright Future for Unified Communications

November 02, 2009

As companies continue to seek cost effective measures to keep their businesses operating while the economy recovers from its downward fall, unified communications has increasingly become an attractive option for more and more businesses.
What are some of the reasons? The ability for UC to integrate to different forms of communication and its lower cost are just some of the reason fueling the adoption, industry experts said.
 “Employee productivity and cost efficiencies are key corporate benefits of UC,” Chris Damvakaris, vice president of sales and marketing, for Apptix, a provider of hosted Microsoft (News - Alert) Exchange e-mail, Microsoft SharePoint collaboration services, and VoIP phone services for small and medium businesses, told unified communications in an interview. “UC integrates all communication tools – e-mail, voice, fax, IM, Web conferencing, mobile devices – into a single interface.”

unified communications recently put some questions to Damvakaris to talk about the benefit of unified communications, its growth of and its outlook. According to Damvakaris, companies have been testing unified communications as big-named companies, such as Microsoft and IBM, entered the space. But as the economic downturn took hold, organizations began deploying the solution with other providers, such as Apptix (News - Alert), to better streamline communications and boost collaboration among employees.
In an interview, printed in full below, Damvakaris predicted that there will be an uptick in the adoption of UC services as companies replace legacy communication systems and better position themselves for the economic recovery.
Our exchange follows:
unified communications: A recent Dell’ (News - Alert) Oro Group report found that the unified communications market grew 3 percent in the second quarter this year - the first quarter of growth since the third quarter of 2008. How are unified communications playing an increasingly larger role in enterprises and SMBs today?
Chris Damvakaris: Enterprises and SMBs have been increasing their experimentation and adoption of unified communications in 2009 for multiple reasons. A key factor has been the successful entry into the space by leading software providers such as Microsoft, HP, and IBM. They’ve brought a more cost effective software-based approach enabling companies to build on and integrate with existing corporate IT investments as opposed to what has traditionally been a costly telecom infrastructure project. And a vendor such as Apptix is then able to offer these services in an even more cost effective hosted or SaaS manner.
The software approach marries logically with the most important influencer – the current economy. The downturn has forced companies, big and small, to enhance productivity while also improving efficiencies and U.C. delivers.
Unified communications enhances employee productivity through streamlined communication and collaboration between co-workers, partners, and customers. Web and video conferencing is replacing in-person meetings reducing travel costs. Companies don’t have to pay for office space for virtual or mobile workers. And hosted, out-of-the-box U.C. solutions eliminate costly infrastructure and maintenance costs.
U.C. will only continue to grow as businesses position themselves for the economic recovery and consolidate legacy systems onto a single, integrated platform.
unified communications: Apptix was recently named a "2009 Fast Growth 100" by an industry publication and has found particular prominence in the industry taking the number 40 ranking. This is the fourth year that the company has appeared on the list. What seems to be driving the company’s growth?
CD: As a pioneer and leading provider of hosted services market, Apptix is reaping the benefit of businesses recognition of the value and cost benefit of hosted services. In operation for over a decade, Apptix provides a comprehensive suite of ready-to-go communication and collaboration services to 200,000 users.
Apptix’s service offerings fill the core components of unified communications including Microsoft Exchange e-mail, VoIP, SharePoint, Web conferencing and Secure Instant Message, and mobile messaging (including BlackBerry (News - Alert) and iPhone). Delivering these capabilities as a service reduces the cost of adoption and frees IT staffs to focus on improving and innovating within their companies – as opposed to having to deal with day-to-day maintenance chores.
Despite the entrance of industry heavies such as Microsoft, Google, and IBM, Apptix continues to gain market share. This success is due to Apptix’s expertise providing customer support for hosted solutions. While the larger players view their offer as a commodity, Apptix recognizes that these are mission-critical tools that businesses rely on for success. Businesses need a live partner they can turn to for implementation and as customer service issues arise.
As a result, Apptix’s corporate culture puts the customers and their needs first. The customer service department is elevated as the most important unit within the company. Everyone at Apptix – from executives to operations to technicians – takes customer service as a core tenet of his or her job responsibilities. Apptix back this customer first culture with a 100 precent Service Level Agreement and provides around the clock, live, U.S.-based customer service. Enhanced system monitoring tools combined with product and customer response training enable Apptix to provide industry-leading customer support. Support that has been recognized – Apptix was named as a finalist for the 2009 American Business Award in Customer Service.
In addition, Apptix’s network infrastructure provides the reliability and security customers need. Apptix’s infrastructure is housed SAS 70 certified, Tier IV datacenters. Hosted Exchange data is protected through Continuous Cluster Replication redundancy that eliminates single points of failure. Its system is anchored by an advanced EMC (News - Alert) networked storage solution.
unified communications: What are some of the benefits of UC?
CD: Employee productivity and cost efficiencies are key corporate benefits of UC.  UC integrates all communication tools – e-mail, voice, fax, IM, Web conferencing, mobile devices – into a single interface. With presence information – knowing someone’s schedule and the best way to contact them – employees can more productively communicate and collaborate with co-workers, partners, or customers. With one click you can initiate a phone call or Web conference. From one box you can share a message, or collaborate on a sales presentation with someone halfway around the globe.
A hosted UC solution provides an integrated e-mail, phone, and conference solution – enabling businesses to eliminate legacy communication infrastructure. And the hosted services vendor deals with daily maintenance, network responsibilities and upgrades.
unified communications: Apptix offers a host of services, including hosted e-mail, mobile e-mail and business VoIP services.  Enterprises seem to be recognizing more and more the value of hosted services. What’s does the future hold for unified communications?
CD: For the last several years, enterprises have recognized the value of cloud-based solutions, but still had concerns over turning mission critical functions, such as communications, to a third-party. But Apptix and other leading hosted services vendors have demonstrated that e-mail, mobile e-mail and voice can be delivered as a service reliably and securely.
The economy has forced IT departments to turn to the hosted services model in order to provide key, daily functions – from CRM to communication and collaboration – and free their resources to focus on strategic corporate initiatives. Now that business has recognized the value, hosted services are not going away.
UC is the next evolution of communications. We’ll see an uptick in adoption as companies continue to position themselves for the economic recovery and as businesses face the need to replace legacy communication systems. The benefits of UC are clear. It helps streamline communications and collaboration. It consolidates communication systems – e-mail, voice, mobile, conferencing – into one platform that is more cost effective to acquire and maintain. It can be adopted in a phased approach, as a hosted service, on-premise or hybrid model. And today’s solutions are more secure and address regulatory compliance and archiving requirements.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for unified communications, covering business communications Her areas of focus include conferencing, SIP, Fax over IP, unified communications and telepresence. Amy also writes about education and healthcare technology, overseeing production of e-Newsletters on those topics as well as communications solutions and UC. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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