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November 2009 | Volume 12 / Number 11
Case Study

SoTel Brings VoIP HOOME with Siemens

By: Paula Bernier (News - Alert)

SoTel Systems LLC is a wholesale supplier of business communications products and services. The company, which has been in business for nearly 30 years, offers traditional refurbished and unused voice and data equipment, does authorized distribution of VoIP equipment, and provides commercial SIP services for both inbound and outbound traffic.

But while SoTel has been selling VoIP gear and services for some time, it wasn’t until last year that the company itself began its migration to VoIP.

The company selected the HiPath OpenOffice ME (HOOME) from Siemens (News - Alert) Communications to replace its aging TDM-based Nortel system, which had reached the end of its lifespan. At the time SoTel was negotiating a partnership with Siemens, say CMO John Reynolds, chief marketing officer, and Mike Sawyer, vice president of technology services, at SoTel, so tapping the vendor for its internal gear was “a natural step.”

HOOME is a complete VoIP-based platform, so the SIP service that SoTel delivers to its customers fit with it. It directly connected to the SoTel network. And the features of the system itself are advantageous to the way SoTel does business, say Reynolds and Sawyer.

“In a business like ours that’s 24/7/365, we’ve got to have total control of our incoming calls, and HOOME enables that,” says Reynolds. “Plus, we really felt that if we were going to distribute the product, then we wanted to drink the juice. We wanted to be able to look our customers in the eye and tell them this is a good system.”

SoTel installed HOOME at its headquarters location about a year ago. This spring the company installed the Siemens gear in its South Carolina location. The systems now are connected through the SoCal SIP network for seamless system operation.

“The good news is that we found that user training didn’t require much effort,” says Sawyer. “Most feature sets with HOOME are fairly intuitive and while some employees have a deeper understanding of HOOME’s functionality than others, they found it simple to operate. Users have a set of soft keys on the desk phone to perform different tasks. We did normal user training, but the system took very little time and effort to integrate into our workflow.”

The changeover increased speed of communications, boosted employee productivity, eased network administration tasks and saved the company money, according to SoTel. At the outset, SoTel estimates a $1,000 a month savings on telephony service and about a $1,500 per year savings on monitoring – all without increasing internal staffing.

“The greatest increases in efficiency and functionality are the pure efficiencies we’re seeing by moving to a unified communications platform, quite frankly,” says Sawyer. “For example, HOOME has a feature called myPortal, which is an onscreen interface that lets users control their voice communications.

“In using this, I hear employees say things like, ‘I haven’t dialed a telephone in three months.’ [That’s] because they can simply click to dial. Auto conferencing has been greatly simplified too with drag-and-drop conference calls,” he says.

In addition, SoTel says call routing has become easier. When customers call, they can be routed to the most applicable available person because the representative answering the call can instantly see on his or her screen who is on hand to talk.

Beyond the unified communication feature set are the SIP service applications like call pickup groups and ring groups.

HOOME also has various reporting features that SoTel uses to its advantage. That includes data collection and presentation related to such parameters as call length and other activities.

“The biggest part of our business is sales, and a large part of that comes down to phone conversations, so this helps us,” says Reynolds. IT

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