Business communications have evolved over the recent years. What used to be a way to stay in touch has now become a medium for streamlined operations, integrated connectivity and even the complete backbone of mobility.
If you are a small- to medium-sized business (SMB) in today’s telecommunications ecosystem, chances are you are searching for the most efficient way to improve productivity, integrate remote workers, control long distance costs and manage your network.
Well, now you are in luck. Verizon’s (News - Alert) IP voice services now let you combine voice and data traffic onto a single network, making data delivery and network management more efficient, where you can choose a cost-effective system customized to work specifically with your equipment, or you can chose a complete hosted solution.
Recently, Verizon introduced a new cloud phone service for SMBs called Virtual Communications Express. The VoIP service integrates with Google Apps to offer click-to-call functionality from e-mail, calendar and chat. Additionally, Virtual Communications Express includes telepresence, visual voicemail, and features common in unified communications (UC) and PBX (News - Alert) systems.
Virtual Communications Express helps increase employee productivity and collaboration with UC. Adding business-grade Google Apps adds time-saving features like real-time document sharing and click-to-chat telephony presence to a business, so more can get accomplished no matter the location.
With Virtual Communications Express, all employees are on the same page in aspects including:
· Click to call from Gmail, Google Docs or Google Calendar
· Call from Gmail using the keypad, dialing window or by clicking the call button
· Reduce training time by utilizing familiar Google applications
· Contain all business information in one cloud-based location
· Arrange video chats from your Gmail inbox
· Engage in real-time shared document editing
“The main thrust of this is to bring PBX features to companies that don't have the budget or in-house resources to manage a full-fledged PBX or UC system," IDC (News - Alert) analyst Matt Davis told InformationWeek in a recent article.
According to Davis, the new service is a "market-building exercise" for Verizon as IDC research shows reluctance among SMBs to embrace virtual PBX and hosted communications services.
There is no technical limitation on the total number of users, but Verizon Product Management Director Tom Dalrymple said the VoIP service will appeal mostly to companies with 20 - 70 employees. Verizon has offered service bundles with Google Apps, but it is not necessary to buy the cloud suite or broadband internet service from Verizon in order to use Virtual Communications Express.
"We've found in the SMB space it's really important that there be a high touch, high customer care installation," Dalrymple said. “An implementation coordinator will be assigned to each new account to oversee the process from sale to deployment.”
AT&T (News - Alert) and Comcast are also treading in the SMB market for cloud-based communications, as the challenge is to provide advanced technologies that deliver ease-of-use. "This is where Verizon may have an advantage over companies that don't have a deep customer support capability," Davis said.
Virtual Communications Express isn't launching with client-side mobile apps, although Dalrymple said they're in the works. Currently, a user can answer calls to their office line from their iPhone (News - Alert) and make calls from their mobile device through the VoIP service from their office number on caller ID.
Davis added, “The fact that it is hosted potentially opens up an avenue for integration of other cloud-based applications and potentially creates a larger platform that can be accessed by any connected device, including mobile devices.”
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo