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September 06, 2011

ITEXPO West Event: Visibility Across the Supply Chain

The telecommunications market is one that is changing on a consistent basis, creating demand for dynamic new innovations and altering industry segments along the way. In anticipation of the upcoming ITEXPO (News - Alert) West event in Austin, TMCnet’s Rich Tehrani recently spoke with Adam Crossno, President and CEO of OnAsset Intelligence, Inc. For this industry provider, the most consistent trend over the past year has been the movement from a focus on experimentation with technology and new services to a concentration on how to implement and scale them within the framework of the data-to-day business.

As for the next disruptive force in technology, Crossno pointed to the continuous avalanche of data and making that data useful. The acceptance and adoption of the cloud model provides businesses with more flexibility in the consumption of products and services. The most common requests received from customers is to help them to better understand and manage the operational impacts of using OnAsset Intelligence’s technology and services across their enterprise. As for universal solutions in social media, Crossno believes it will take some time. As for the product mix consuming data in the future, Crossno notes that as more and more machines become connected, they will slowly tip the scales and essentially become the majority.

When asked if Google+ will outpace Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter, Crossno noted that the ultimate winner will be the company that can best blend their core offering with other services that users can consume without creating barriers. Crossno also believes that venturing too far into the virtual world can be dangerous. As for the mobile operating system war, he is waiting for the major players to make a decision to standardize to eliminate fragmentation. At ITEXPO West in Austin, Crossno is interested in understanding how consumers adopt and use new technology and services. During his session at the event, he’ll be addressing the real-world application of supply chain visibility and security technology and services.

Their entire conversation follows:

1.            How has your market evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those changes?

Evolution of our markets over the past year have taken several forms, however the most consistent trend is moving from a focus on experimentation with technology and new services to concentration on how to implement and scale them within the framework of day-to-day business. Sales engagements used to be centered on “What can your technology do?” and “Show me why you are special.” but more recently have focused on “Show me how your technology and services can be applied to my specific business and processes.” That evolution of thinking is being partially driven by the typical business pressures (need for differentiated services, desire for more efficient operations, better understanding of the supply chain, and increased security of goods in transit to name a few), but the more recent and interesting drivers are taking the shape of regulatory compliance, automation of traditionally very labor intensive processes, migration of liability and risk in the supply chain and the desire to be seen as thought and technology leaders in sectors that haven’t historically been considered technology savvy.

2.            What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business?

The most disruptive force is the continuing avalanche of data. Everything happening in our personal and business lives is driving more data to us – the real challenge is making that data truly useful. Most of us today have more data gathering capability in our pockets than most global businesses had just a few decades ago. Our primary challenge is helping customers wade through that data to determine which pieces and which combinations of information really add business value for them. 

Ultimately if you are not using the data to take action and make decisions you are gathering data simply for the sake of having data – which ultimately clouds perceptions and bogs you down. The differentiation between firms that will survive and thrive in the information jungle is the ability to understand the value and cut through it all to make the data work for you.

3.            How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?

The cloud model has primarily given businesses more flexibility in how they consume products and services. Ultimately this results in the need for the provider to concentrate more on scoping new offerings to ensure they can be consumed on ever more granular levels with ultimate flexibility for how customers want to buy. The days of large licensing fees for very complex software packages and tightly bundled services are going to die a slow death – moving forward customers are going to expect to only pay for the portions of a product or service from which they actually derive value. 

This will naturally cause providers to question and more deeply investigate development of new technology and services to ensure they target only high value offerings that are capable of being delivered one transaction at a time.

4.            What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?

The most common request is to help our customers better understand and manage the operational impacts of utilizing our technology and services across their enterprise. In a sense we are becoming experts in the intricacies of specific vertical markets so that we can better understand our customer’s needs. The key to successful and widespread adoption of any product or service is to better understand how it applies to your customer’s every day operations. 

We are responding to this environment by teaming with our customers and business partners to offer an ever-increasing umbrella of complimentary services to provide truly turn-key implementation. The easier we make it for customers to use the more successful we all become.

5.            There has been talk of Facebook coming into the mobile marketplace with its own devices, and LinkedIn (News - Alert) just rolled out a new HTML5 mobile app. Do you expect we will see a push towards universal solutions or customized mobile devices as we move forward in social media?

I believe it will take some time, but the natural evolution is to reach some level of standardization. In most cases there will always be a small group of major providers that have their own specific solution, and naturally the market will evolve and the smaller players will choose which camp they want to belong to. In the short term we will likely see an explosion of customized solutions, but eventually we will move toward a select number of somewhat standardized foundations.

6.         Besides phone calls, mobile is now sharing bandwidth with video and machines. What do you predict will be the mix of traffic in the future?

As more and more machines become connected they will slowly tip the scales and eventually consume the majority of the bandwidth. That tipping point is still quite a ways away. For the immediate future the bandwidth will still be driven by consumers as the trend with more and more services making their way online will continue and accelerate. Ultimately that will change when we reach a point of widespread machine connectivity (for example once cars become truly connected devices we will see that machines can easily consume and process more information and bandwidth per connection than a human).

7            Will Google+ become bigger than Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert)? Why or why not?

Google is poised to make a good run given the breadth of their complimentary offerings. The ultimate winner will be the company that can best blend their core offering with other services that their users consume without creating barriers. I believe in the future that consumers will become increasingly wary of the fact that very large corporations have a frightening level of access to data regarding their personal and business lives. Once the masses realize the true impact of sharing every aspect of their lives online, we will have a revolution of sorts and the company that best reacts to that changing landscape will ultimately be poised to be the most successful.

8.            As businesses continue their move toward virtual workforces, how are you meeting the need for increased mobility?  What barriers are keeping others from adopting mobile strategies?

Even though there are new tools every day that allow for a more seamless interaction on a remote basis, I believe nothing will ever replace the personal touch. Virtual tools are great in terms of increased productivity and flexibility, but they are very much double-edged swords. In my opinion, I think it is dangerous to move too far into the virtual world – the loss of true face-to-face communication dulls interactions and takes some of the pleasure out of business. Certain virtual tools are necessary, and must be embraced to do business on a global basis. As with everything there is a healthy balance that must be maintained.

9.            How do you see the mobile operating system war (iPhone vs. Android (News - Alert) vs. RIM vs. WM7 vs. HTML5) playing out?

Each solution will have its own silo and market share. Until all the major players make a decision to standardize (which isn’t going to happen anytime soon) we will continue to have fragmentation. Some will die the slow death of dwindling market share while others gobble it up slowly. As to the winners only time will tell.

10.            Is HTML5 the game changer many predict it will be?

It’s too early to tell, but it certainly looks promising.  

11.          What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?

I’m most interested in really understanding how consumers are adopting and using new technology and services. I think the biggest trends at the show will be hearing from people that are really putting technology to work. Much like we have seen with our own business evolution we’ll be hearing about the shift from evaluation to “rubber on the road” action.

12.          What issues will you be addressing during your ITEXPO session and why should attendees be sure to attend?

We’ll be addressing the real-world application of supply chain visibility and security technology and services. We’ll be concentrating on the path to cash of achieving real business value. I’m very excited about the show and looking forward to hearing about all the different ways the technology and information is being leveraged throughout the world and across many different markets. 

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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