Wednesday, January 21, 2015

20 Years of VoIP

By: Alon Cohen EVP/CTO - 2015

It is not often that your name is mentioned in the same sentence with a name of a legend like Alexander Graham Bell. Well, since it happened to me this morning, I thought that a thank you is in order.

So, thank you Rich Tehrani for the kind words. Rich is the CEO of TMCNET a media organization that not only covered but also propelled the VoIP industry in many ways since it’s inception, by providing a consistent home for all industry members to meet and discuss ways to make the industry better. I think the upcoming panel in ITEXPO with many of the VoIP veterans, that Rich has put together, is going to be an amazing event.

I also want to thank the people that enabled me to stay humble (as Rich wrote) and yet be remembered like my friends Ari Rabban, the CEO &Co-Founder of and a VoIP / VocalTec veteran himself, as well as Dan Berninger who keeps telling people about my contribution and the history of VoIP, so thank you Ari & Dan.

And last but not least I want to thank those who made that history possible, Lior Haramaty my friend and VocalTec Co-founder, along with a very talented group of developers, engineers, marketing and business people some of which are Rami Amit, Ofer Shem-Tov, Dror Tirosh, Ofer Kahane, Elad Sion, Daniel Nissan, Elon Ganor, Scott Wharton, that took the core VoIP technology and worked days and nights to deliver the first commercial VoIP product that we launched during Feb 1995 named “Internet Phone” or “iPhone” that really placed VoIP on the map.

Thank you guys, and all the other amazing people who worked at VocalTec at the time. 

As a final note: like all of us who knew Elad, I wish that Elad Sion was here, with us today, to celebrate those 20 years of VoIP history, Elad’s amazing talent in Math and Computer Science could have made our world a better place.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Unified Communications, Benefits & Challenges

By: Alon Cohen EVP/CTO

Generally speaking UC is not a very well defined term. The term has lingered for many years; it morphed over the years as telecom technologies that can be unified evolved and became more conducive to unification.

I was recently asked by to discuss different aspects of UC in order to make it simpler for companies that think about updating or replacing their communication systems, do so. If you have free 30 minutes enjoy the following video.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Practical Guide To Building A Small Business Customer Support Organization

By: Alon Cohen EVP/CTO

I was asked by ERANYC, a startup incubator in NY, where I mentor entrepreneurs from time to time, to give a presentation about how to build a customer support organization.

At where I currently work, our team have done tremendous job at that, and we recently won the New York NYER “Best Customer Service Award”.

After going through the process of building a support organization three times and after giving it some thought in order to give my ERANYC talk, I was able to put together this “practical guide to building a small business customer support organization”.

This short guide was inspired by Jeremy Watkins and Jenny Dempsey our customer support leaders at who worked very hard along with the rest of the company, to win the above NYER prestigious award.

I hope you will enjoy the guide… Part 1Part 2



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Can Watson actually replace customer service agents?

By: Alon Cohen EVP/CTO

I was asked to opine about the above question "Can Watson (the Supper Computer from Jeopardy) actually replace customer service agents?".

I have no doubt that computers will replace humans in many jobs in the time to come. I have seen the airline industry move from 5 person crew: a Radio Operator, Navigator, Flight engineer and two Pilots, to a 4 person crew as radio became simpler to operate, then to a 3 person crew as GPS and INS (Inertial Navigation System) became simpler, and currently only a two pilots crew when computers replaced the Flight Engineer.

Interestingly a pilot I flew once with, inside the cockpit of a Boing 767, told me that soon there will be only one pilot and a dog. When I asked the obvious “why the dog?” the pilot said “well, in order to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything”.

However I think the future is not that grime for the Flight Engineers and humans in general specifically if you notice the fact that Scotty the flight engineer is still there in Star Trek.

Anyway if you like to read more about Watson, Speech Recognition and my take on using Watson for customer support check out my article in SpeechTechMag:


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The calm AFTER the storm

By: Alon Cohen EVP/CTO

Many articles discuss the relationship between company culture and leadership, and its strong correlation to the success of those companies.

One aspect of company culture that I want to discuss here is the sense of urgency that a company might or might not have. Sense of urgency to finish projects ahead of time, to deliver faster and to be the first to market. Some might call it competitiveness. There are, however, different types of competitive organizations and competitiveness, almost like our own good and bad cholesterol. The first type exist in organizations like Microsoft where the competition is between different teams and between employees inside the company, as attested by some of my friends who used to work there and a few articles. That internal competition in many cases impedes teamwork. 

The second type is the good one. It is the type of competitiveness which is projected outside the company. It lets the company be competitive as a team against outside threats and it provides companies the push to succeed. One aspect of that competitive drive is the sense of urgency.

Sometimes, however, even a good sense of urgency is not sufficient. I have noticed that many times a company will work towards a goal and achieve it ahead of its competitors. Results may look good and everyone is happy to come to work. In fact the company is so happy and self-content that it becomes complacent. The company keep comparing itself to its old self and forgets that now the game has changed. At this point every competitor is scrambling to do the same and even better if they are analyzing the product, identify places that can be improved and fix them in their own upcoming product. 

If you extend that “calm after the [release] storm” period, you basically give your competition time to recuperate, and you make it easy for them to get back into the game. The longer you stay calm the more chance they have to close the gap and maybe even win the race to the next goal.

Minimizing that period of complacency is critical to the company’s future. The company needs to be happy with its achievement but only for a very short while. It must set new goals, and start racing towards its new goal. It must also set its latest achievement as the new baseline and set goals to beat that yet again.

It is mentally hard to race against yourself when you know the competition is still behind. It is almost as mentally challenging as the “Individual time trials” in the Tour De France, in which cyclists pedal solo and are timed against the clock instead of against another rider.

Take for instance Microsoft. They released windows mobile in the early 2000 and as if they forgot they worked on it, they never followed through with it. Were they calm and complacent? Probably as usual. This gave Apple and later Google a chance to not only close the gap, but even win the market completely.

Apple on the other hand kept the pace up and kept the development and production pipelines warm as was proven by the rate at which they innovate and came out with new iXXX products, with new form factors and new software updates.

It is those companies and entrepreneurs who keep challenging themselves and keep outdoing themselves, that eventually collect the big rewards. Remember the old saying "the fact that you are not paranoid, does not mean there is no one chasing you".

What do you think?
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