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Dialing Up Communications-as-a-Service


It’s a tough row to hoe for small businesses competing with big companies. But one big reason small businesses may never even get to first base with prospective customers is an un-friendly, un-professional “second class” phone system, according to InfoWorld’s Mike Heck. If anything, small companies need smarter, more sophisticated systems to do the work big companies have big staffs to do.

Enter the IP-PBX, offering sophisticated functionality that even the largest companies only dreamed not too long ago — and at a price point that the smallest businesses can afford. Or can they?

Heck’s article is about PBX-in-a-box appliances, which, at first blush, sound ideal for small offices. Just plug it into the network and–Well, it’s not that simple.

First, you’ll need new IP phones and you’ll probably have to increase network capacity. Then Heck points out that costs for installing and customizing the PBX can double or triple the initial purchase expense. Oh, and don’t forget training your staff to use the new system and ongoing maintenance. All of this just to add features to phone system that may be making phone calls just fine.

Sounds to me like telecom’s same old private Idaho — except with different vendors and technology. Many problems, one solution. Namely, the one they sell.

But aren’t we living in the Web 2.0 world? You know, the one where we’re going to get whatever services we need on-demand and delivered through a browser — the Internet as the contemporary equivalent of the pay phone.

Web 2.0 isn’t just about on-demand spreadsheets or business application mashups. It’s also about communications delivered the same way — that’s why the blogosphere was a-twitter last week about Yahoo!’s partnership with VoIP-through-a-browser company Jajah.

In fact, most of us are already using communications-as-a-service without even thinking about it. If you’ve participated in a conference call recently, chances are it’s through a Web-based service. When you needed to hold that conference call, was your first thought to buy a new phone system to do it? So why not apply that same model to other types of services — like Find Me or IVR applications?

Of course, we’re going to toot our own horn here at IfByPhone because for several years we’ve been in the business of delivering voice applications to SMBs via a Web 2.0 — communications-as-a-service — model.

Sign up and five minutes later you’re setting up call routings and the greetings and menu options you want callers to hear. And it doesn’t matter what kind of phone system you have — or even what kind of phones. Even rotary phones will work.

The point is that first you need to figure out what problem you’re trying to solve.

If you need a new phone system, that’s one thing. But if what you want to do is make sure that calls for tech support go to the right call center depending on the time of day, that’s another problem — one that you can solve with IfByPhone Call Routing.

And the best part of communications-as-a-service is that you don’t have to read through all those product and system evaluations. That should increase productivity significantly.