Dialcom's U.S. Unified Communications Gamble

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-03-14

Dialcom's U.S. Unified Communications Gamble

Dialcom will begin selling its Spontania software suite to enterprises in the United States March 17 and expects it can make a dent in the unified communications and collaboration market currently being split by Cisco Systems, IBM and Microsoft.

Spontania delivers instant messaging, voice, video and data utilities over any device or network to employees at any location, Dialcom President and COO Bob Johnson told eWEEK.

Users can hold VOIP (voice over IP) teleconferences and multi-party IP videoconferences, share files and do "white-boarding," or bounce ideas off one another on a computer screen.

Corporate employees can switch between communications modes from one computer or mobile device screen with a couple mouse clicks, so workers don't get bogged down in jumping from one media application to the next.

Dialcom, whose U.S. headquarters is in Herndon, Va., began its life selling these capabilities in Spain in 2002, amassing more than 100 customers in telecommunications, media, banking, insurance and manufacturing markets.

Johnson said the company has plied its trade by promising customers it would not bring their networks to their knees because it can regulate video transmission automatically and manually using its patent-pending bandwidth management technology.

Moreover, it can work seamlessly with customers' existing infrastructure; companies needn't rip out and replace their legacy investments in video conferencing equipment, instant messaging, e-mail and IPBX.

For example, Johnson said Spontania will work with IBM's Lotus Notes e-mail and Lotus Sametime instant messaging and Web conferencing, or Microsoft's Outlook e-mail application.

Battling the Heavyweights

Battling the Heavyweights

He said it's time to expand and to test Dialcom's mettle against the likes of UCC market heavyweights IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and others. IDC projects the UCC market will top $17 billion by 2011.

To wit, Spontania's launch comes one week after IBM pledged to pump $1 billion into UCC in the next three years. How will Dialcom compete?

Johnson said Dialcom has the advantage of being more nimble and quick to meet customer needs than the larger "battleships" in the market. "There's enough for everybody and I think I can get there faster," he said.

He said Dialcom expects to eventually integrate Spontania with enterprise wikis, such as Socialtext, or Atlassian Software, sometime this year.

Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann said Dialcom is different from IBM, Microsoft, Cisco and other UCC vendors because it has strong VOIP and Web conferencing components, as well as strong relationships with telecom companies.

"Several resell their products on a white-label basis," Mann told eWEEK. "They get lots of trade show visitors showing video and Web conferencing over a cell phone, which is pretty cool. Other participants can be on PCs."

However, to crack the U.S. market, Mann said Dialcom will have to find the organizations that are looking for desktop video and want to roll it out on a wide basis, or convince prospects that there is value in this.

Dialcom shares its biggest challenge with other UCC providers: "Right now, there are many tire kickers, but only a small percentage is really ready to invest," Mann said.

Dialcom charges companies according to how much capacity they require, starting roughly at 25 concurrent users for $40,000 to $50,000.

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