Friday, August 26, 2005

SIP: The Telephony Community Hits an Inflection Point

Session Initiation Protocol or SIP is an exciting technology that promises to revolutionize the telephony industry as we know it. SIP is an industry standard for the connecting of IP endpoints. In plain English, this means SIP is a standardized method of connecting phones together, connecting phones to IVR ports, connecting phones to voice mail systems and connecting wired and wireless devices together. In short, SIP is the beginning of the end of limitations imposed by proprietary PBXs and their expensive support contracts.

In their place, SIP offers a business model of replaceable parts in which customers can choose their vendors based on service, competitive pricing and capacities without a concern for being locked into a single vendor solution.

The SIP model is producing an inflection point that parallels that which occurred in the Local Area Network (LAN) marketplace 20 years ago with the development of a single-chip Ethernet controller. This development drove the price of network adapters down to less than $100. Almost overnight, the data world lost interest in any connectivity standard other than Ethernet. Even token ring technology quickly became viewed as proprietary rather than an industry standard. The cost-to-performance ratio of Ethernet commoditized data connections and rendered almost a dozen other “standards” obsolete. SIP is the “Ethernet chipset” of the telephony world.

As with all inflection points, new and exciting business opportunities are a primary byproduct. In the telephony industry, the focus of consumers and technology provides will shift to applications and away from proprietary hardware.

Applications like the intelligent routing of all forms of communication will quickly become a necessity. As computers and phones overlap further and further, tools will be needed to allow phone users to filter, control and re-route incoming and outgoing communication to suit their immediate circumstances.

Spreading the cost of applications such as intelligent routing and silicon assistants across the hundreds or thousands of users in an enterprise means everyone can regain control of their lives without having to shut down the very devices that keep them connected; all at a cost that makes the ROI very reasonable.

These types of applications will provide a “communication umbrella” which will oversee the flow of all forms of communication; applying personal “interruption rules” to each device. Today, the only real way to filter incoming interruptions is a binary method; turn the device on for interruptions an off for peace and quiet. Tomorrow, consumers will have tools available to them which put them in complete control of who reaches them when and where without having to resort to turning the devices off.

Communication umbrellas are an ideal software subscription business for the carrier market looking to boost revenue through add-on products and services. Homeowners, small business owners and enterprise users looking to try out new technology before committing to a large scale deployment are all potential customers. Imagine controlling who goes straight to voice mail, who gets forwarded to your mobile phone and whose call launches a series of calls in order to find you wherever you are. This same technology also provides voice-controlled changes to the rules, is tied in with your calendar, can place calls on your behalf through voice commands, can conference callers based on voice commands and can read your e-mail to you. When all the communicating devices are easily connected, applications such as this are no longer a pipedream as the inhibiting integration nightmare is no longer part of the equation.

SIP is the long awaited catalyst that is unleashing the application community to revolutionize the methods by which we communicate with one another. Its impact is that basic and that profound.

If you would like help understanding the impact SIP could have on your business, please call me regarding available consulting services: 602-492-1088

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