This past week I had the pleasure of meeting with Tristan Barnum, Director of Product Management for Digium Switchvox. Tristan works out of Digium’s west coast office in San Diego. She recently took to the road with Switchvox Account Manager Tracy Liu to meet with West Coast Switchvox Select partners.
Ms. Barnum co-founded Switchvox in 2003 and joined Digium when the company acquired Switchvox.
Needless to say, Tristan is the ranking expert on Switchvox at Digium, going back to the very days of its inception. She wears many hats at the company, and you may have seen her in one of many videos that the company has produced in the past few years.
While much in our meeting was under non-disclosure, there was still a good amount that can be discussed. First, one can’t help but be giddy about the direction and velocity of Digium. I’ve worked with many business communication systems manufacturers and developers over the years, and this company is quite a refreshing change. They are truly passionate about their goals, have a real clear vision, and are operationally astute. And they get bonus points for a lack of arrogance for which so many PBX providers are guilty. Let’s hope that their success won’t change them.
Digium IP Phones
Over the past 18 months, Tristan has been leading the Switchvox product team in developing the first-ever line of Digium IP telephones. Being the naive guy, I asked how could it take so long to develop a seemingly simple product? It was right there when we got nerdy. As it was explained to me, what seems to be a simple undertaking has layers upon layers of technology. Plus Digium set out to build a better mouse trap with the impressive integration they’ve done with the PBX. Tristan promises that this is only the beginning of what is a strategic, long term plan on desk phones.
We moved on to my list of features that I’d like to see on the Switchvox. As casually as writing a shopping list, Tristan typed in some notes on her tablet, frequently punctuating the conversation with a “That should be easy” and “We’re already working on that.” Usually that type of request is met with a obsequious “sure, I’ll pass that on” and you know it won’t get further than Teledynamic’s front door. Barnum’s comments correlate with Digium’s actions – the speed of Switchvox development is amazing. This is a company that understands that they need to run as fast as possible if they are going to continue to outpace the growth of the market leaders.
However, Digium isn’t perfect and has missed a couple of trends. We had a spirited discussion regarding the need for integrating a soft phone into the Switchboard, Digium’s all-in-on desktop call control and management software. In my opinion, Digium’s been slow to address this market need. In our conversation I gathered that it’s an area of development and that Digium will respond, but in their typically onconventional style.
I am not happy about the way they size their products at present and clearly let my feelings be known in our meeting. A few minor changes would allow them to have a more competitive offering for smaller customers. I guess we’ll see how that particular area plays out.
When our meeting concluded, I sat back in my chair feeling pretty damned smug about choosing the Digium Switchvox as our core business phone system offering two years ago when Nortel and 3Com melted down.” It’s not very often that I feel smart! It was a good day!