One of the best parts about going to shows like VON is getting exposure to new vendors or vendors who are beneath the North American radar, but have solid traction elsewhere. I believe Spring VON attracted people from over 50 countries, so when the scope is that global, you�re bound to find some gems.
Being in Canada, it�s easy to comment about how US conferences are so US-centric, and how easy it is to overlook all the good things going on abroad. Skype is probably the best example of this, and in a year�s time, they�ve become a household word, and have put Estonia on the map in the IP world. Who knew? Romania and Argentina are examples of other lesser-known countries that have emerged with strong developer/programmer communities. Thinking larger, of course, Asia and India are quickly emerging as tech powerhouses by virtue of their inexhaustible pools of highly trained engineers and programmers along with labor costs that US firms cannot possibly compete against. Generous government support and subsidies is another factor in the mix, but that�s a topic unto itself.
These global realities don�t just hold for VoIP, as my inner sports geek poignantly reminds me. North America has had a humbling dose of this recently, reminding us we�re not the only life form on the planet. First, Canada�s men�s hockey team fails miserably at the Olympics (let�s not forget that the women�s team did their job!). And we just witnessed Team USA getting the same outcome at the WBC. These are our national sports � these things are NOT supposed to happen! What would the Europeans say if Canada won the World Cup? It�s just unthinkable. However, both sports and technology are global concerns, and to stay on top of your game, you can't ignore what's going on outside your borders.
On that note, I�d like to comment on my VON meeting with SPIRIT DSP�s CEO Andrew Sviridenko. Based in Russia, their focus is on embedded voice software, and their key forte is a voice engine that supports enterprise conferencing across PC and mobile platforms. They were new to me, and it looks like they face the classic marketing challenge of getting better known in the US market. Their software is reportedly used by over 200 customers in more than 70 countries, so they have the global footprint. And it�s not just Tier 3s � they have their share of top tier customers, including Ericsson, Toshiba, Nortel, TI, Siemens, Philips, Oracle, Macromedia, Agere, HP, NEC, LG and Polycom.
Certainly, they�re not the only game in town, but they�re focusing on the hot topic right now � enterprise FMC. This has even been borne out on the software side, as witnessed by Microsoft�s mobility integration news at 3GSM. For enterprises looking to deploy along these lines � and don�t want to be totally dependent on Microsoft for doing so � SPIRIT DSP is a viable alternative. But you have to know about them first! So, as with a number of other offshore vendors looking to break into the US market at VON, it�s not so much who you know, but who knows you.