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Scult's move to Fonality comes at a time of greater acceptance for unified communications alternatives, hosted and cloud-based UC, and also for UC and contact center products rooted in the open-source community. Fonality's competitors include not only incumbent UC giants like Cisco and Avaya but also scrappier players like Digium, the best-known purveyor of Asterisk-based telephony products.
One of the first things he's looking to do, Scult said, is streamline Fonality's branding. Its various lines include Trixbox, the software-based PBX supported on the Asterisk open-source platform, its PBXtra business phone systems, and its Connect hosted solutions.
"The vision for the next six to 12 months is to bring that all together," Scult said. "We're the only provider in the industry that supports all of these different deployment models, from on premise to public cloud. So we're leaning in the direction of re-branding and trying a unified brand. Maintaining all these different brands plus our company brand is incredibly expensive, so I'd really like to double down with this integrated approach and turn up the volume in the marketplace around a unified Fonality brand."
Scult will also focus Fonality's product team on updating its core products more quickly, he said, and also make it easier for Fonality solution provider partners to buy the systems.
"I think this company was really good with technical innovation, but it didn't always rationalizing pricing, purchasing and packaging -- it seemed like that could be a little scattered," Scult said.
Fonality could stand to be a better channel steward, Scult said, adding that Fonality lost a lot of its channel focus during the transition from former CEOs Lyman to Mansfield and didn't expand its channel footprint in the way in which it needed.
"The channel has stayed pretty vibrant in spite of that misstep," he said. "That's great, because if and when we really invest in it, we can create the best role possible for the channel. One thing I learned a lot from my most recent experience at Microsoft is that you have to be clear about how the partner makes money."
"There are a lot of categories of partners we haven't tapped into -- partners, for example, who can easily attach subscription services to their traditional software businesses, or distributors who we haven't much tapped into who are looking for cloud solutions," he said.
Scult said he's pleased with the current Fonality management team and will make strategic hires only as needed.
"I like what I've inherited -- I don't have plans to bring a Microsoft mafia to Fonality," he said. "I was impressed hearing about how they really came together in their year without a CEO."