NetStar closes in on its Convergent vision

NetStar has acquired Brisbane-based Convergent Technologies for an undisclosed sum in an effort to position itself at the forefront of the integrated voice and data network channel which it sees as muddied.

According to Kent Brooks, NetStar's managing director, folding Convergent into the "NetStar family" will add "tens of millions of dollars" to NetStar's turnover and a raft of new customer opportunities.

He said true solutions involving converged voice and data networks were mainly just a "pipe dream", with the "marketing hype touted by vendors" not being matched by a channel with the necessary skills to deliver on the promise.

"Certain vendors may want voice and data convergence to occur dramatically overnight but it ain't going to happen that way," Brooks said. "It is going to be an evolution not a revolution."

Marrying Convergent's voice network solutions heritage with NetStar's data core competency held "obvious synergies", according to Brooks.

"The channel, as the vendors had it, was not ready to go out and start talking about the convergence of voice and data because [the channel] just didn't have the expertise to do it," Brooks said. "We tried some experiments by bringing in some [specialist] voice people but it was not nearly enough. The only way we were going to crack this was to bring a whole raft of voice expertise in and approach the solutions from the voice angle."

Convergent Technologies has built a strong services-based revenue stream from its new-age convergent computer telephony integration work as well as holding a strong traditional PABX and call centre solutions background.

Having started in Brisbane, it has now assumed vacant space in NetStar's North Ryde premises. Brooks said the 30 staff from Convergent were all retained after the acquisition.

Convergent MD Bruce Kirchner stays on at the head of the organisation, which will retain its name "for at least 12 months", according to Brooks. Kirchner becomes general manager of the Convergent division of NetStar and will report directly to Brooks.

Brooks was extremely optimistic about the early successes of bids under the new structure, saying NetStar had landed several deals with what he claims is a unique proposition.

"The partnership has already yielded great benefits, with numerous successful bids which neither party could have won separately," he said.

"A single point of contact for both data and voice with the level of specialist expertise we can now offer is unique in the market."

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