Q&A: Allstream’s UC lead talks strategy, innovation

expertIP sits down with Robert Hamer, who leads Allstream’s Unified Communications Strategic Product Group (SPG), to talk about trends in UC, how Allstream is innovating in this space and what customers can expect in the months to come.

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There are a lot of moving parts in a complex unified communications environment, from collaboration to presence and mobility. Allstream, which recently acquired Integra, is combining its technology and expertise to become a leader in UC across North America.

eIP: What are your responsibilities in leading the UC division for Allstream?

Hamer: UC is key to Allstream’s growth. My biggest responsibility is to ensure that we have a strong product offering that will help us win in the marketplace. A strong product is the combination of the best underlying vendors, the best upfront discovery of customers’ needs, the best onboarding process and the best ongoing support.

eIP: How will you combine the best of Integra and Allstream?

Hamer: Allstream has a great history in the UC space — it has built an awesome infrastructure and has a remarkable team with years and years of UC experience. Integra also has a lot of awesome, experienced UC people. We have combined all these great people and will be a real force in the UC space across North America.

eIP: What is the focus of the UC division in the year ahead?

Hamer: Quality — to be the best. Consumers can go online and find an app at a low price to make and receive phone calls. Our focus is to ensure we provide a much better experience for our business customers by delivering X, Y and Z that other solutions do not. Doing so will ensure customers recognize the value we deliver to their business. To be the best takes a commitment. We’re challenging ourselves as a company to continue to invest in the people and systems needed to provide the best experience for our customers and to build the best UC offering in North America.

eIP: How will Allstream continue to work with partners such as Mitel and Cisco to bring new UC solutions to market?

Hamer: Mitel and Cisco both consider us important partners and critical to their success. They provide competitive pricing and sales support to help us win customers. Both partners are leaders in the UC space and their products are key to setting Allstream apart from the competition.

eIP: What are some of the biggest trends in this space, and how is Allstream innovating when it comes to UC?

Hamer: Team collaboration — employees are on the move, working all hours of the day from countless locations using various communication tools. They are looking for one communication platform to bring their teams together: collaboration. We don’t just sell telephones anymore, we sell collaboration solutions.

eIP: Are we seeing increased demand for cloud UC, and how is Allstream responding?

Hamer: We have built a first-in-class Mitel Cloud offering in the U.S. and in Canada. In Canada, we have a Cisco Cloud offering. Our sales team is experiencing more and more interest in these offerings, which tells us there is an increased demand for cloud UC.

eIP: Why should customers turn to Allstream for their UC needs?

Hamer: Our expertise in the UC space spans more than 25 years. Our providers, Mitel and Cisco, are industry leaders as reported by Gartner, an independent expert in the UC space. And most importantly, we don’t just ship telephones to a customer — we work with them to understand their specific needs, we go onsite to deliver our services and we train them to ensure they’re getting the most out of their investment.

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