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February 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 2
Editorial Sponsorship Series

PhoneFusion and Service Providers – A Perfect Relationship

PhoneFusion, Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a leading provider of reliable communications solutions to businesses of all sizes. The company’s portfolio of unified communications and fixed mobile convergence products combines all modes of communication – from mobile phones to traditional landlines to VoIP to Business Intelligence Suites and Distributed Call Centers – into one, single, manageable source. With PhoneFusion, organizations can confidently and seamlessly manage their daily business communications from any location, on any device, at any time.

The company offers three distinctive business communications solutions, designed to meet the needs of small-to medium-sized businesses and resellers alike. All the PhoneFusion products are built on cutting-edge technology with innovative and reliable solutions to combat today’s common business communications problems. From home offices to the virtual workplace,

PhoneFusion’s portfolio of business communications solutions enables organizations to stay connected with sales, customers and prospects whenever and wherever they are.

PhoneFusion One, the flagship product, gives businesses an easy way to manage all of their daily communications with just one phone number. Subscribers receive a permanent telephone number to give to clients, colleagues, family or friends. When callers dial the subscriber’s PhoneFusion number, PhoneFusion One will contact him on the numbers previously programmed online. With basic and enhanced features including call forwarding, voicemail, virtual attendant, fax to email, conference calling, call screening, call recording and many more, PhoneFusion One supports all communication needs.

PhoneFusion lets you easily add additional lines for family members or business associates so they can use the services at the same time you do.

As John McDonald (News - Alert), PhoneFusion’s Vice President of Marketing, says, “‘Unified Communications’ is something of a misnomer. If you want to reach someone, you don’t want to be concerned about whatever IP address, device or protocol they’re using. You just want to automatically figure out where they are and how they can be reached.”

PhoneFusion’s other product, PhoneFusion Intelegen, is a hosted Virtual Automated Call Distribution (ACD) and Predictive Dialing system that provides support for at-home agents, call centers and multiple site locations. PhoneFusion Intelegen allows businesses to maintain a workforce of at-home or onsite agents with no special hardware or software required and provides for integration with existing telephone systems, databases and all CRM tools. In addition, the call tracking features of PhoneFusion Intelegen assist clients in analyzing and managing their business communications. By easily scaling up or down on demand, PhoneFusion Intelegen gives corporations a cost-reduction solution to meet any business fluctuation.

The services offered by the company itself encompass all of the many functions provided by PhoneFusion’s Service Delivery Platform (PFSDP). It is the “ultimate” product. But PhoneFusion itself can be customized to produce a “white label” service that can be resold under another service provider’s brand, through the PhoneFusion ESP solution.

As McDonald explains it, “What’s been truly missing in the market until now is the ability to have a managed platform wherein one could empower ITSPs [Internet Telephony Service Providers] or any emerging potential VoIP service provider or alternate provider wanting to make available a value-add for their customer base. Our PFSDP platform is like a big Chinese menu, for wont of a better description. The provider customer can tailor a solution to their subscriber customer base, user groups or community, or whatever. That’s really the beauty of PhoneFusion in terms of being a white label solution.”

“The service provider furnishes the front end, which is the brand, the marketing and the product set,” says McDonald, “but they can rely on our team of what I would call pure technology geniuses to manage the infrastructure at the back end.”

“It’s not a case of just re-branding a service or re-labeling a box,” says McDonald. “The service provider can customize it to become ‘their’ solution for either their existing or potential target market. With PhoneFusion ESP, telecommunications service providers can purchase unbundled elements of the PhoneFusion One product and create custom classes of services to offer their customers. With PhoneFusion ESP, service providers can incorporate valuable unified communication solutions into their product offerings that would otherwise be too costly to develop and implement on their own.”

“Flexibility and customization is key these days among service providers because they don’t want to lose market share via customer churn and, in fact, they want to capture more market share with an enticing set of features,” says McDonald. “We founded our company on the concept that we could provide a customized solution to providers. Therefore, unlike our competitors, we didn’t have to adjust our marketing strategy — customizability is the very premise which led to our developing the PhoneFusion product.”

Great Channel Support

Indeed, PhoneFusion takes great pains in its skillful dealings with service providers and the reseller channel in general.

“Most channel programs fail, and most companies fail, when they introduce their products into the channel and don’t consider the overall picture,” says McDonald. “It’s only superficially about ‘How many seats can you sell for me?’ or ‘What do you expect this company to produce?’ Unless you provide support to make resellers, agents and other channel members successful, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I’ve seen so many programs fail and fall flat because a company wasn’t willing to invest in a partnership that they had just developed. So I think that’s one of the advantages that we bring to the market. We work with our partners and resellers to our mutual benefit.”

“It’s imperative that in order for any reseller or agent program to work, you need to have back-end support as well as the ability to train employees,” says McDonald. “You need to have front-line regional managers or directors who are working toward the mutual success of that company. What often happens is when you sell to a customer or reseller, concerns about the support structure for both the front and back-end, tend to drop off. Our vision, whether it’s for our customer-facing PhoneFusion One or PhoneFusion Intelegen products, or PhoneFusion ESP, is the same. We provide strong frontline and back-end support for our partners.”

“I’ve spent my entire life working in alternate channels of traditional telecom models,” says McDonald. “Channel managers under a monthly quota often cannot obtain enough partners by the last week of the month. They’ve been trying to bring in partners to compete against their existing partners. But the best managers know that if you work with your partner – whether they are traditional telecom resellers or white label providers – and make them successful through marketing, sales training or any other means, then you are empowering them to generate revenue. When you sell to the channel youmust put your partners and your resellers in the best position to make money and be successful, because then you are successful too.”

Though PhoneFusion currently is focused on the U.S. market, the company has its eyes set on becoming a global presence. Given their huge feature set and superlative dealings with the reseller channel, that should be no problem for them. IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.

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