Andy Munarriz, Co-Founder and CEO, VoxSurf
Q Can you tell us a little about VoxSurf. How did the company get started?
A I founded VoxSurf with a fellow technical architect, Marco Santulli, from Andersen Consulting in May 1999. The idea really started when I tried to get my mother to use email. I became convinced that I would only succeed if she could listen to her email over the telephone. Once we realized the potential of the project, enabling people to access their email via the telephone, Marco and I spent the summer designing a mobile email product and within three months the project became a commercial venture and immediately won a significant contract from Motorola. Motorola was our first OEM and they incorporated our mobile email product into their MIX and MPS platforms.
So that's how it all started. Since then we have broadened our product base with Next Generation Voicemail and an Enterprise focused mobile service called MobileOffice, extending user access to messaging & PIM from the desktop, to the mobile, Web & wap-enabled devices. Our products have been installed in fixed and mobile operators in the USA, South America and the UK.
Q What markets does VoxSurf target?
A VoxSurf is focused on the delivery of modular communications solutions to Communications Service Providers such as Mobile and Fixed Line Operators, MVNOs and Business ISPs. Our Next Generation Voicemail and MobileMail products are a perfect fit for their target customer base and the MobileOffice product allows the Service Provider to offer their enterprise customers a service that will provide mobile access to their corporate email, voicemail, calendar, tasks and contact list.
Q Please explain your views on how legacy voicemail systems can be extended to target new markets.
A An interesting question, but I believe the most frustrating trait of legacy voicemail systems is their lack of flexibility. I find that service providers are desperate to break away from their legacy platforms because they cannot extend their existing services unless they spend a small fortune with their incumbent supplier on a bespoke development program. The beauty of next generation systems is that they are designed to be flexible, easy to develop and swift to deploy. A single installation can support several personalized services, a broad range of feature sets and multiple persona and because of the extensive use of open standard interfaces and programming languages it can be enhanced by the service providers' own engineers. Through experience, I know that service providers recognize the limitation of their legacy platforms and rather than try to extend them they are capping their investment with the incumbent supplier and are now turning to the suppliers of next generation systems to target new markets. That's where we come in.
Q Who are some of your partners and how did you choose those relationships?
A VoxSurf has long recognized the benefits of offering the customer a choice and I work hard to ensure that we support the broadest range of technology vendors. Our products port onto Unix, Windows and Linux and can interoperate with voice browsers from all the leading providers including: PipeBeach, VoiceGenie, Verascape, IBM and Nuance, and mail stores from companies such as Critical path, Sun and Mirapoint. All our partners are the leaders in their markets and our combined strengths give VoxSurf the power to deliver innovative solutions to our customers.
Q Can you give us an example of a successful VoxSurf deployment? Please provide supporting statistics.
A A difficult question to answer as all our deployments have been successful and our more recent work is still covered by non-disclosure agreements. In the past we have deployed Motorola and the first commercial VXML based voicemail service with a US CLEC called Talking Drum. Talking Drum's service, Kode Mail, was installed within three months of contract and was remarkable for it's foresight. Kode Mail was designed for the youth market and the service had a 'street' persona that used voice prompts recorded by a rap artist called Mojo. We had a load of fun putting the service together.
Since then we have deployed our MobileMail and MobileOffice services with a number of fixed line and wireless operators in the United Kingdom and United States.
Q One of your product offerings is "Next Generation Voicemail." Can you explain this offering?
A VoxSurf's Next Generation Voicemail enables service providers to migrate away from proprietary, switch based voicemail platforms and give their consumer customers a flexible, carrier grade voicemail solution that can be enhanced by the activation of modules such as email or Voice Activated Dialing. The product also allows voicemail access via the Web and wireless devices. The product is IP and email based and makes extensive use of Open Standards. The telephone user interface supports both voice commands and touch tone (DTMF), and extensive use of recognition based barge-in ensures that the user's experience is optimized and the service works in noisy environments such as cars, bars or rail stations.
The key benefits to our customers, the mobile operators and carriers, are that: the total cost of ownership is significantly reduced when compared with legacy voicemail platforms; the openness and IP infrastructure ensures that the cost of deployment, maintenance and ongoing development is far lower than our closed, proprietary competition; and, the flexible, modular nature of the service allows the service provider to deliver a service that is tailored in functionality and branding to meet the requirements of their key markets and customers.
Q Please describe the VxOne platform.
A VxOne is the foundation of all our products. It is the core of our architecture and it is a highly scalable, modular, messaging service creation engine for all our products and product extensions. Since all our products are built on VxOne, they inherit extensibility and customization capabilities to meet the most demanding customer's requirements.
This ensures that the migration of a subscriber or group of subscribers from one service to another, for example from Next Generation Voicemail to MobileMail is no more than a change of account configuration or Class of Service.
VxOne is also at the heart of VoxSurf's design philosophy - a combination of Open Standards, IP and 'intelligence' in software that ensures NO proprietary hardware and NO vendor lock-in.
Q Can you explain what types of training and consultancy you offer with your "Specialist Services"?
A Since our foundation, VoxSurf has led the field in the development of voice-enabled messaging and communications applications. Marco, my co-founder, has built a world-leading team of software & VoiceXML engineers and this provides the core of our Specialist Services team. Our services are broad and recent work has ranged from the development of bespoke voice-enabled applications, such as a ring-tone downloader and voice portlets, to consulting on best practice in UM technology and voice strategy, and providing training in VoiceXML programming and application development.
Q What offerings do you have for potential enterprise customers?
A VoxSurf does not sell direct to the Enterprise market. VoxSurf MobileOffice is targeted towards Enterprise customers of Mobile Operators and other Service Providers such as fixed line carriers and business ISPs. VoxSurf MobileOffice enables the Service Provider to offer their business customers a next generation mobility service. It consolidates voicemails into the customers corporate mail store and mobilizes their corporate email, calendar, contacts and task list and allows the subscriber access via fixed or mobile phone, Web browser, desktop email client and wireless devices. We have paid particular attention to the security issues concerning remote access to corporate mailstores and we have developed a portfolio of security measures that will satisfy the most demanding Enterprise Security Council. For more information on VoxSurf visit http://www.voxsurf.com.