Monday, March 21, 2005
Interview with Hardy Myers, President and CEO of AVST
My interview this morning is with Hardy Myers, President and CEO of AVST (www.avstgroup.com). AVST is a provider of software for communications systems based in Foothill Ranch, and I thought it would be interesting to hear about the company.
BK: What is CallXpress, and how are people using your product?
HM: CallXpress is the premier second generation enterprise communications solution for businesses of all sizes. It integrates with an enterprise's phone system and groupware (Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes) to provide the workforce with access to their voice messages, fax messages and email in a unified view via a computer (or mobile device), via a touch-tone interface, or via a speech interface. Additionally, an enterprise can utilize the speech capabilities of CallXpress to provide a more effective and friendly "front end" to their business replacing their legacy touch tone auto attendant resulting in higher call completion and increased customer satisfaction.
What really gets customers excited is when they realize that they can now have all of their voice, fax and email messages in a unified inbox which they can access anytime, anywhere, and from any device. I particularly like the speech and call completion features which allow me to take and initiate calls, access and send email, reply to voice mail and access and schedule my calendar, all hands free while I am on the road, which, in Southern California, is most of the time.
BK: Who are the typical customers of your product?
HM: With 35,000+ systems installed worldwide, our customers are spread across all industries and are of all sizes. What we have tried to do with our products is provide the most reliable, scalable, and flexible solution on the market with the best set of communications features for today's competitive business environment.
CallXpress is designed so that customers can buy only the applications and licenses they need to meet their current workforce requirements, with the ability to add on or expand later. A simple example of how this works is that today a firm that has 500 employees may have a requirement for voice mail for 350 employees, unified messaging for 100 employees, and speech-enabled personal assistant for 50 employees. With the flexibility of the CallXpress platform, additional functionality (like changing workers from voice mail to unified messaging) can be added later to further optimize the productivity of various segments of the workforce depending on their future communications requirements.
BK: How is this different from an office PBX and phone system?
HM: A PBX (phone) system is typically the voice link (some companies use Centrex) between the outside world and a company and handles the routing of inbound and outbound calls. Many companies are now moving to an IP-PBX which leverages the internet to route certain phone traffic in a least cost manner. Regardless of the type of phone system, CallXpress is the set of applications that are tied to the phone system (and generally a company's groupware) to provide a best of breed enterprise communications solution. This solution set can vary from, in its simplest form, voice mail, to its most complex form which would include speech-enabled unified messaging and personal assistant capabilities.
Many PBX vendors offer competing products but CallXpress is unique in its ability to integrate with virtually all phone systems on the market and Centrex. This capability is critical to larger organizations that typically have multiple brands and models of phone systems but want to standardize on a single communications solution enterprise-wide.
BK: What's the history of the company, and how did it come about?
HM: AVST was established in September 2003 from the combined businesses of Sound Advantage (established in 1997) and the AVT division (established in 1982) of Captaris, Inc. (NASDAQ: CAPA). A privately-owned company, AVST's two major institutional investors are Ignition Partners, Seattle, WA (www.ignitionpartners.com) and Dolphin Equity Partners, New York, NY (www.dolphinequity.com). Captaris, Inc. is also a minority shareholder.