The way in which business people communicate and collaborate has seen rapid changes recently. Workers are increasingly distributed, conducting business from branch locations, home offices and partner sites, as well as from the road. These virtual workers rely on unified communications applications as a way to share information easily and to communicate and interact with co-workers, partners and clients. With the transforming nature of working environments into a more collaborative and mobile model, unified communications is successfully paving its path to the business market.
Microsoft (News - Alert) Lync delivers advanced unified communications capabilities and features that are helping companies change the way their employees communicate and collaborate. Enabling rapid access to experts, peers and decision makers via the most optimal communications method allows businesses to accelerate business process completion by significantly reducing human latency. Lync delivers benefits for management as well as for information workers, allowing more interaction with the right people to improve a company’s efficiency.
CallTower (News - Alert) will be the first U.S. company to launch a hosted, multitenant, Microsoft Lync product that delivers a complete business communications solution. The product, called NextUC, is a one-stop shop for fully integrated unified communications that combines telephony, presence, chat, conferencing, video, collaboration and mobility in one single cloud-based platform that can be leveraged on a wide variety of platforms including Windows, iOS and BlackBerry (News - Alert). The platform allows for more collaborative, engaging and effective experiences for end users while cutting the client's infrastructure costs. NextUC is unique in that it provides a truly integrated enterprise telephony and unified messaging solution in addition to the base Lync product from Microsoft.
CallTower’s long and successful history of delivering cloud-based unified communications led to this unique approach for small businesses. The user experience and product requirements are far different for the small business than they are for larger businesses. The foundation of the product is based on providing exactly what the small organization needs, which includes support for a broad range of endpoints; the full suite of communication services from a single provider; services that all work together seamlessly; automatic integration to key cloud companies like salesforce.com, netsuite and others; and full, independent, fast and automated provisioning, onboarding and service.
The service suite will include telephone service, unified messaging, e-mail, calendaring, client-to-client videoconferencing, web conferencing, audio conferencing, rich presence, enhanced call routing, auto attendants and chat, among other services. NextUC will deliver the service to all of the main operating systems on the desktop as well as mobile environments including Windows, iOS, Android (News - Alert) and Windows Phone. The key benefit for customers is that this approach allows a very wide array of hardware device support including PCs, Macs, Windows Phones, iPads, Android Devices and BlackBerrys.
One key characteristic that drove much of the product approach is the dispersed and mobile nature of the small business. Small businesses generally want to appear larger, want to be easily accessible, must be mobile and dispersed, and need a product that is easy to use.
NextUC will be delivering the cloud integrations about three months after the initial July launch. These integrations are extremely important for the small market space and will help drive customer adoption and satisfaction. Small businesses do not generally have easy access to IT resources necessary to make these types of integrations possible on their own, and CallTower believes these can provide immense value for their clients. Some of the key functionality will include click to dial, communication history, screen pops and call routing integrations.
The NextUC model is also partner friendly. There is a clean partner program that can be leveraged by a wide range of organization types with an easy online application process. Once approved, the partner will receive recurring commissions for a year for any customers that chose to associate their assigned ID to their onboarding activity. In addition, NextUC enables a wide potential range of IT-related activities inside of the customer environment that are not provided by NextUC. Some examples of these activities can include Sharepoint site development, call routing design, PC support, LAN support and wireless device support.
Bob Barnes is executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development at CallTower (www.calltower.com).
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Edited by Rich Steeves