2018 promises to be a bellwether year for Voyager in New Zealand, propelled by a series of acquisitions and internal cloud and communications developments.
The internet service provider (ISP) has been relatively low key as it built scale through acquisitions since launch in 2011, but that is about to change.
Founder Seeby Woodhouse told Reseller News the upcoming launch of the new products, backed by the sponsorship of the Voyager Media Awards, signals a new phase for the business as it focuses on building brand recognition and new, competitive market offerings.
Last year's buyout of IP telephony developer Conversant was particularly important strategically as it enabled Voyager to expand its internal development capacity.
"Where Voyager was a year ago was effectively delivering IP centric lines and basic telephony type services at a lower cost," Woodhouse said.
Voyager had about 15,000 endpoints on its phone system, all of which had to be configured centrally. It was not "super smart" PBX but a smart phone line that could be connected to other phone lines.
"What the Conversant purchase allowed us is the ability for customers to log in and manage their own phone lines and do things like their own time-of-day routing," Woodhouse said. "Instead of Voyager having to do everything for the customer, they had a management interface added on."
That was six months ago. Now the imminent launch of a new phone-based app and management interface, dubbed Hero, is charting a path to a "mobile first" future for Voyager's customers.
With Hero the end-user can download an app to their iPhone or Android device, log in from a web browser and add and confiigure functionality such as chat, groups and time-of-day and away routing, presence and basic Skype for Business-like functionality.
Furthermore, it also enables image and video sharing with full chat history recording, conference calling functions with the ability to mute, solo (allow one person to speak) or kick (remove) individuals from conference calls.
Hero is more affordable, in part, because it is one cloud system rather than an in-house PBX, Woodhouse said.
"Once you take licensing into account systems like Skype for Business can get quite expensive," he said. "We're going to be a tier between free stuff like regular Skype which doesn't have any corporate functionality and fully fledged phone systems like Mitel or Skype for Business."
Woodhouse will also be open to reselling the product through other telcos, while Voyager itself will continue to sell multiple products in Australia as well as locally.
Conversant was built on a wholesale model, Woodhouse said, and already has about 40 wholesalers.
"We see Spark and Vodafone as potential customers for product down the track," he said. "There may be a set of customers that fall somewhere in the middle that aren't serviced by Microsoft level licensing."
Hero also has a Maori language customisation pack, making it of potential interest to iwi and Maori business.
"A lot of customers are still living in that world servicing customers with Cisco IP desk phone, but more and more the world is moving to a mobile first strategy and companies are saying they don't even want desk phones or need desk phones," Woodhouse added.
"Where we see Hero going is becoming your business phone as an app on your mobile phone. Employees can bring their own device and then they get their business phone number and their inbound and outbound calls on their mobile phone, whether in the office or not."
Also under the covers at Voyager is New Zealand's second native cloud service, built on OpenStack. Wellington-based Catalyst launched the first three years ago and last year spun it out as a separate business.
Woodhouse said the cloud test environment is up and running, with plans underway to start marketing - promising lower prices than Amazon Web Services as well as data sovereignty within New Zealand.
Initially Voyager's cloud will have a scaled back feature set.
"A lot of people don't want everything under the sun, just compute," he said. "You won't be able to order a thousand servers like you can with AWS, but certainly we'll have 50, 60 100 that you can spin up at a very good rate."
CIO New Zealand, Reseller News' sister publication, is a finalist in the Voyager Media Awards' best trade or specialist publication category.