The Power of Convergence – the IBM/varetis Partnership

December 19, 2001

The Power of Convergence – the IBM/varetis Partnership

In partnership, IBM and varetis provide unique, unprecedented technical capabilities and applications solutions for the North American marketplace that far exceed those of competitive offerings.  These multifaceted and powerful capabilities can be neatly summed up in a single word – convergence.  The IBM/veratis alliance succeeds in enabling the convergence of technologies, infrastructures, and of content in ways never before feasible.  IBM brings a wealth of world-leading experience in manufacturing, research, and integration that is simply unrivaled in the technology sector.  Veratis contributes worldwide market presence, deep industry-specific knowledge, and world-class technologies that have been specifically refined for the Directory Assistance marketplace.  In combination, solutions arise that redefine what is possible and profitable for North American Directory Assistance providers.

The primary battlefront in North American telecommunications has become one of customer acquisition and retention.  Billions are spent annually to capture customers and build brand loyalty.  In the long term, however, this effort must extend beyond marketing prowess into the technical realm; consumers must have access across networks, applications, and namespace domains that is convenient, consistent, and intuitive.  Ultimately, this is convergence at the human level – a convergence that is only made possible by the extraordinary capabilities by world-class companies working in partnership to meet common aims – precisely the capabilities which IBM and varetis together are offering the North American Directory Assistance marketplace.  No competitive offering can approach the scale, sophistication, and raw power of the IBM/varetis alliance.

Convergence, in short, is driving the Directory Assistance industry toward a new generation of technology and services capabilities.  Service providers can no longer afford to maintain separate service bureaus for wireless, wireline, and Internet networks.  Namespace information must be accurate, timely, and consistent across the growing diversity of access technologies and devices.  DA infrastructure must therefore support listings capabilities that are an order of magnitude larger in both depth (numbers of listings supported) and breadth (the scope of information contained in a listing.) that ever before. Commensurably, access to those listings must be intuitive and consistent across device types, according to the specific capabilities and restrictions of the devices themselves.  In short, this requires that the underlying infrastructure is more powerful, more intelligent, and more flexible than any one vendor can possibly provide.  Partnerships have become an absolute requirement to provide solutions of this sophistication.

But partnerships, even among world’s best technology vendors, are useless if the integration of these technologies is exceptionally difficult or cumbersome.  This is just where the IBM/varetis partnership vastly outshines competitive offerings.  IBM and varetis have specialized in more than just producing world-leading core technologies; we have refined the integration of these technologies and competencies around open standards such as VoiceXML to a degree unrivaled by any competitor.  Indeed, it is precisely our focus on integration and open standards that has contributed to the exceptional capabilities of the technologies themselves; one cannot be easily divorced from the other.

This is easily contrasted with competitive offerings from Volt Delta, for example.  Volt has developed a long history of producing single-vendor solutions with proprietary, closed architectures and few if any upgrades in features or functionality – a characteristic perhaps borne of the fact that Directory Assistance is not, and never has been a core business for Volt Delta.  varetis, by contrast, is a stable firm with broad international experience that is entirely focused on the Directory Assistance business.  Our technology is widely regarded as more, simply, than superior to that from Volt Delta, but as the finest available worldwide from any vendor; technology that leads through power, flexibility, and adaptation  – precisely the capabilities that emerge when architectures are predicated on open standards and best-of-breed partnerships.

In the Directory Assistance automation arena, it is also important to point out that Volt Delta, perhaps more than any other competitive vendor, has until only recently resisted the development and implementation of automation solutions, ostensibly opining that such solutions do not produce effective results for service providers.  varetis, by contrast, has invested nearly a decade of research and development in mastering the challenges of successful DA automation precisely to improve the bottom line for our customers.  In doing so, we have developed a large body of technical and human factors expertise in support of automation solutions, as well as world-class partnerships to assist us in implementing that expertise.  In short, we have already solved many of the problems that Volt Delta, and other similar competitive vendors, are only now beginning to grapple with.

Convergence at the technical level, then, takes the form of exceptional integration capabilities through strong partnerships and open architectures.  It is important to understand, however, that the tools and techniques that allow us to integrate our separate technical and business strengths have corollary and highly important benefits for integration into existing networks as well.  We understand that the path to next-generation Directory Assistance is of necessity stepwise and gradual.  Convergence in markets, like that of technologies, does not happen overnight.  The IBM/varetis partnership has produced solutions, therefore, that need not be implemented all at once.  Our partnership permits service providers to supplement their existing networks with full confidence that their investments will be protected.  The transition to next-generation Directory Assistance can happen as quickly or gradually as desired, according to the business requirements of the service provider.  IBM/varetis solutions will integrate seamlessly with your existing operator services infrastructure, and in doing so, will enable the growth and extension of that infrastructure to support new markets, new technologies, and new revenues.

Convergence is occurring in one other domain of significance to this industry – that of content.  Service providers are finding it necessary to extend the breadth of their service to ever larger geographic areas, and across a growing expanse of applications and services.  More data about more subscribers must be captured and maintained at telco grade quality.  This again extends the traditional requirements for Directory Assistance services beyond the scope of any one vendor, by virtue of geography, market penetration and presence, and even regulation.  The management of this complexity in both technical and business domains is precisely the area at which varetis has excelled throughout its corporate history, and has become the foundation for our worldwide success in delivering solutions to the Directory Assistance marketplace.  varetis specializes in providing the technological prowess, business relationships, and integration capabilities that are necessary in order to expand the range of your offerings into national and global domains.  In doing so, the complex world of information services becomes smaller, more manageable, and more accessible.  We help the forces of convergence to focus on the one place where it properly belongs – the consumer.  And in doing so, we help our customers to become more profitable.

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