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InPhonex Talks About Unified Communications and Challenges for Hosted Service Providers

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September 29, 2011

InPhonex Talks About Unified Communications and Challenges for Hosted Service Providers

By Laura Stotler, TMCnet Contributing Editor

TMCnet got the chance to speak to Internet telephony service provider InPhonex (News - Alert) at the recent IT Expo West 2011 in Austin, TX. The company recently launched its innovative Televate solution, and CMO Matt Bramson spoke to TMCnet Managing Editor Stefanie Mosca about the company and the unified communications space.

InPhonex targets its telephony services primarily to service providers and small businesses. The eight-year-old company launched its Televate solution over the summer, a combination of hosted PBX (News - Alert)/IVR/CRM applications geared toward helping small businesses build successful relationships with their customers.

According to Bramson, the product is in beta and they already have several dozen customers. The cloud-based phone system features a desktop application to create a single company database for managing all inbound and outbound contacts. It also offers a mobile application for delivering complete communications and collaboration functionality from anywhere. Televate offers a cloud-based core application combining enterprise hosted PBX, call center IVR and hosted CRM functionality. When combined, the solution's features offer a high level of control for generating productivity gains as well as increasing reachability and collaboration.

"Our plan now is to invest a tremendous amount of money and energy in creating a marketing campaign around Televate and launching that at the end of the year," said Bramson.

He also spoke about the unified communications market and some of the challenges service providers face in growing their companies. Bramson said the key to educating customers is to help them understand the connection between unified communications solutions and the three main goals most businesses are trying to achieve. The chief goals are winning more customers, keeping current customers longer at a higher margin and making salespeople and the rest of a company more productive.

"We have tremendous capabilities in unified messaging and various other applications," said Bramson of the UC marketplace. "But where I think we've struggled and where I think the big opportunity going forward is, is to productize those services, make them consumable easily by small businesses."

He added that a lot of the solutions implemented today have been adopted by tech-savvy small businesses. Millions of businesses still use traditional phone systems, don't have any sort of CRM system in place and are struggling and could be helped through the proper tools.

Bramson participated in a panel discussion about the challenges of hosted solutions at the conference. He said one of the main challenges for service providers is the first impression they give to prospective customers, in terms of what it will be like to be their customer and have services set up for their business, as well as how customers will be trained. Some companies take a low-touch approach to training, said Bramson, like offering customers video tutorials for download. Larger businesses will often employee a labor-centric model of sending out trainers to a hotel or other central location, although this method isn't practical for most small businesses.

"For us, it's an artful mix of self service and self provisioning and self maintenance of your application, but also having the opportunity to have humans to train you and do installation if that's something you want and need," said Bramson.

The next big move for InPhonex will be publicly launching their product at the end of the year.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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