Last New Year’s Eve, Paul Boyer had more to celebrate than the ushering in of another year. Boyer, managing partner at Ancero, a Mount Laurel-based communications solutions provider, received word that evening that his company had won one of its biggest accounts: a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) contract with a large Midwestern company.
Boyer noted that Ancero’s contract with that company, based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, involves the largest VoIP deployment in the Northeast that Ancero has undertaken with its national provider partner. The deal involves about 17,000 VoIP connections to the company’s subsidiaries’ offices, bringing nearly $300,000 a month in revenue for Ancero.
With this piece of business added to an expanding client roster, Ancero is reaping the benefits of an evolving tech environment.
The 18-year-old company began as a traditional integrated systems provider, but later switched to a managed-service-provider model. However, an analyst at the technology research firm Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) convinced Ancero to get into the VoIP business.
The analyst said that managed services companies should start offering VoIP services as a competitive advantage in the ever-changing technology services industry, Boyer recalled.
The analyst’s recommendation turned out to be right: VoIP became “an enormous piece of business for us,” Boyer said.
Along with its VoIP business, Ancero offers managed and cloud services and networking solutions to its clients, who are located across the country. But it’s VoIP that Ancero is betting its fortunes on these days. “VoIP is the number-one activity generator over and above anything else,” he noted.
Industry statistics support Ancero’s decision to go headlong into VoIP and make it the company’s key revenue driver. According to a report by Infonetics Research (Campbell, Calif.), the combined residential and business VoIP industries were estimated to be worth nearly $75 billion at the end of 2015. The report also said that VoIP subscriptions had been growing approximately 14 percent year-over-year since 2009.
Ancero largely focuses on small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) for its client base. The company has about 1,100 clients, of which Boyer estimates that more than half are very active.
The company’s top industry verticals are healthcare, financial, legal and other professional service companies — businesses that typically fall within the SMB category and are most likely to be receptive to Ancero’s services.
Ancero views the healthcare sector as its biggest industry vertical because it includes physician group practices and other medical treatment facilities, which tend to have multiple locations and prefer to outsource their technology needs rather than handle them in-house.
Cost savings appear to be the biggest selling point for businesses considering switching from their current phone systems to a cloud-based system. According to Boyer, businesses can save between 20 to 30 percent with VoIP systems, compared with other phone systems.
Another benefit of using a VoiP phone system is its disaster recovery feature. “If you lost power in your building, the outside world wouldn’t know because your voicemail is working in the cloud, which would give you the ability to transfer everything to your cell phone,” Boyer explained.
With the increasing potential for security breaches in business data, Ancero has taken the extra step of partnering with companies specializing in cybersecurity technology. While Ancero can lock down networks with traditional computer-security techniques, the company realized that cybersecurity experts are the best equipped to battle the highly sophisticated hackers trying to break into the databases of companies.
Ancero’s big bet on the VoIP model seems to be paying off, as the company is posting an annual growth rate between 8 to 12 percent. Boyer said that this is a manageable rate of growth for the company, which at one point was 30 percent a year.
Demand for VoIP systems and for Ancero’s other services are expected to produce around $100 million a year in revenue within the next five years. “We’re well-positioned in the right area. VoIP is the hottest area in the industry,” said Boyer.
Ancero, however, requires a highly skilled workforce to meet that demand, and the company — like other New Jersey technology companies — is having trouble finding the seasoned talent it needs to accommodate its growth. The company currently has more than 60 employees in New Jersey and Philadelphia, with most of them at the Mount Laurel location.
“There is a lack of senior talent in this area of the country,” Boyer explained. “A lot of the technology talent leaves New Jersey to go to California or elsewhere in the country. Finding the right people is a challenge.”
Ancero could have moved its headquarters elsewhere, but decided that Mount Laurel was a perfect location because of its proximity to a major highway. The town is also home to a growing number of technology companies in southern New Jersey.
Boyer knows that Ancero doesn’t have the same stature as those companies that are disrupting the status quo with game-changing technologies. But he doesn’t mind if it’s labeled a “technology plumber.” That’s because Boyer believes the company is quite good at what it does, and that there will always be a need for its services. “We’re excited about the future,” he said.