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ITEXPO Experts: SMBs Need Support Tools with Business VoIP Systems

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September 18, 2008

ITEXPO Experts: SMBs Need Support Tools with Business VoIP Systems

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Addressing an area that can give business VoIP resellers headaches, a panel of industry experts moments ago talked about ways they give system users greater control over Internet telephony call quality.
Huw Rees, vice president of sales and marketing at 8x8 (News - Alert) Inc., a Santa Clara, California-based company that made a big announcement during the Internet Telephony Conference & Expo – that it’s now providing, through its Packet8 VoIP services, the SIP trunking for Microsoft (News - Alert) Response Point – said that 8x8 does two major things.

First, Rees said during “Making the Business Case for VoIP in the SMB,” the company allows customers to “pre-qualify” their systems – essentially allowing potential clients to decide for themselves whether call quality is up to their own business needs.
“It’s a very good thing for us and for the customer, because of course if we don’t get a satisfied customer from the day they unpack the box and plug the phones in, then it causes a bad relationship all along,” Rees said. “So we’d rather that we pre-qualify it, and find out whether their network is capable of handling the voice before actually selling them anything.”
Statistically speaking, 8x8 Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bryan Martin (News - Alert) said during a keynote speech at the ITEXPO, about 85 percent of company’s subscribers say they experience toll-quality voice through the IP system.
During his speech, Martin said that “every person out there, every business, every consumer, should be able to get access to business quality voice – 85 percent are going to have to do nothing to get that access.  And 15 percent of customers are going to have to do a little work. So, I would say that data, given the advantages you get with the public Internet side outweighs a little bit of headache we have to do for the 15 percent.”
Lees said during the panel discussion that 8x8 also gives customers tools so that they can “self-qualify” – through a test facility called “VoIP Test” on
“If you’re a novice user in VoIP, it’s going to give you sort of green lights and orange lights and red lights,” Rees said. “But if you want to know the detail, you can plug down into the detail to find out what it is on your local area network or on your wide area network that would potentially cause problems with VoIP calls.”
Moderated by Carl Ford (News - Alert), community developer at The, a Web-based resource for home and business VoIP users, the talk raised questions about what’s driving conversations with business VoIP customers.
“What features are they asking for that you didn’t expect?” Ford asked the panel.
For Jeff Szczepanski, chief technical officer at Allworx Corporation – an East Rochester, New York-based company that provides an all-in-one communications system that includes VoIP – resellers regularly report that customers need tools to support and maintain their own VoIP systems.
“The thing that has been driven home to us the most over several years of deploying these products is that, especially in the small business environment, where there’s no dedicated IT resources, is that the whole turnkey aspect of the systems is incredibly important in terms of their supporting and maintaining it,” he said.
“It took a long time for VoIP to get developed to the reliability and robustness of the traditional TDM systems,” he said. “When something has gone wrong and voice quality has taken a turn for the worse, actually identifying and providing tools to so people can better understand what’s going on and fix those problems, is probably the most ripe area for continuing to innovate.”
Jay Blazensky, vice president of business development at RingCentral, Inc. – a Redwood City, California-based company that combines a toll-free or local number with advanced call management, PBX (News - Alert), voicemail and Internet fax – said one good example of control over VoIP that his company offers is power over a simultaneous ring function.
“You’ve got customers that love getting a simultaneous ring, but if I’m out getting a Starbucks and my kids come home, it’s unprofessional (for the children to answer), so we’ve given customers like that the power first of all they can choose to not show the caller ID and instead make it so they can actually see the business number coming up on the phone so the kids simply know not to answer it,” Blazensky said. “We’ve also given them the ability that when their home phone rings, you can require a code that’s put in.”
8x8 Inc. is a platnium sponsor of Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year.  ITEXPO will take place in Los Angeles, California, September 16-18, 2008, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss.  Don’t wait.  Register now!

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael´┐Żs articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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