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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

VoIP NOW MEANS BUSINESS

Having been actively involved with the Internet for a number of years, I have followed the progress of VoIP technology. In a nutshell, VoIP stands for "Voice over Internet Protocol," which means using the Internet to place and receive telephone calls. The concept is legitimate and ultimately represents considerable savings, yet it has been relatively slow to catch on due to the perception that it is too complicated to use. Actually, it is a lot easier than you might imagine. Fortunately, there have been companies who have made considerable progress overcoming this stigma of complexity, such as Vonage, Skype, and Yahoo! Messenger who have made it palatable for the consumer to use, thereby creating mindshare and acceptance of the concept. Whereas these offerings are predominantly aimed at personal or residential use, implementing VoIP in business can best be described as spotty at best, until now.

I recently attended a seminar by Broadview Networks of Rye Brook, NY, a communications provider who was showcasing their VoIP based "OfficeSuite" product for small to medium sized businesses. There are many other regional based VoIP providers, but Broadview appears to be the first national provider who can offer a viable and legitimate solution for business in this country.

"OfficeSuite" represents a VoIP hardware/software solution, meaning they provide the customer with handsets and Internet based software to control the customer's settings. Whether or not a company has Internet access is immaterial as it can accommodate customers who already have service, as well as those who do not.

The product has some rather slick features for companies:

"Hot Desking" - place and receive calls from anywhere, not just your office.

"Call Coverage" - direct calls to anyone, meaning you can redirect your calls to another number (even outside the network).

"Auto Attendant" - allow callers to select from a menu.

"Mobile Twinning" - calls are simultaneously sent to your desk phone and cell phone.

There are also the many other creature comforts we have grown familiar with in telephones, such as three way calling, voice mail, 911 access, messaging, intercom, call forwarding, and much more. There is also some useful disaster recovery services included which can keep your company up and running even if the building has blown away. In terms of software, there are some easy to use administrative menus as well as menus for each worker to modify his/her own settings. It has been very well thought out.

The company claims, "It offers small and medium-sized businesses the functionality of an enterprise-grade PBX or key system without any capital investment or expensive maintenance contracts," and I believe it.

The best thing about "OfficeSuite" though is its ease of use and simplicity thereby overcoming the fear of esoteric technology, as well as saving companies 30% or more in telephone costs. It's stable, cost effective, and easy to use. As the company says, "Never miss a call again." Frankly, it's a no-brainer for business.

Now if Broadview can only do something about filtering out the spammers who call me.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.