Changing the Way We Work: Real-Time Communications Everywhere - And in Every Application

Cover Story

Changing the Way We Work: Real-Time Communications Everywhere - And in Every Application

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  April 14, 2015

Businesses and service providers are at an important intersection in their journey toward the future. They clearly need to move forward – and in new directions – to succeed. At the same time, it’s important to remember where they came from.

GENBAND (News - Alert) takes all that into consideration as it works to help carriers and other organizations meet current communications requirements and address what’s next.

In fact, it has built its strategy around these imperatives, with a network transformation philosophy built around a logical progression, moving communications to the cloud while leveraging existing investments.

From SaaS (News - Alert) to CaaS

The cloud is one of the most important trends in real-time business voice, messaging and video communications today, and that will only continue to expand going forward.

“Email is among the first applications many businesses move to the cloud,” said Jon Jorgl, GENBAND’s President of Enterprise. That makes sense, he added, since email does not always entail real-time communications.

Voicemail will be among the next applications businesses move to the cloud, Jorgl suggested. “The timing is right for this,” he said, “considering many existing voicemail systems are due for a refresh, as some of these systems have been around for more than two decades.”

These outdated voicemail systems frequently lack capabilities such as voicemail-to-email, voicemail-to-text, and visual voicemail found in newer solutions. That doesn’t necessarily mean businesses have to part with their existing voicemail functionality or legacy phone systems completely, however. 

Leveraging Legacy Assets & Investments While Evolving

GENBAND offers organizations the ability to retain the existing voicemail systems functionality with which their users are familiar while enabling them to enjoy state-of-the-art voicemail features. The company allows for that by creating a bridge between existing on-premises phone systems and the cloud, through which it delivers new generation voicemail feature functionality.

Among the organizations that have gone this route is a major university located in California, which called on GENBAND to help it migrate 14,000 of its voice mailboxes in this fashion.  GENBAND also helped it move 4,000 users to a hosted VoIP solution that interoperated with its legacy phone system and kept its existing telco vendor in place.

“We enable our partners and customers to choose how they want to leverage the cloud for their unique requirements,” Jorgl said. “We understand it’s not going to be a case of one size fits all.”

GENBAND also enables businesses to leverage their existing investments in endpoints and continue using existing PBX (News - Alert) features, he added. It achieved that by designing its EXPERiUS IP PBX application server platform to work with existing Nortel desk phones and moving many Nortel (News - Alert) CS1K legacy PBX features to the SIP environment.  The EXPERiUS platform also allows users to choose between alternative SIP-based handsets, unlocking them from the proprietary handset trap of the typical IP PBX providers.

“That’s important because there are still nearly 50 million lines on legacy Nortel gear in the market, and we estimate that $375 million worth of business is converting annually to a new system from these aged PBX platforms,” Jorgl explained. “GENBAND is ready to move on this $7.5 billion market opportunity, and it’s doing just that by helping the businesses that constitute this community to evolve away ­– but evolve at their own pace.

“We can go in and allow these legacy Nortel users to continue to use those legacy handsets – because investing in new handsets is a major new expense,” Jorgl said. “Our solution is typically 70 percent less expensive than an alternative rip and replace solution. Yet we can enable mobility, SIM ring cell phones, click-to-dial, and presence integration while leveraging that same handset.”

Rather than simply recreating the wheel, however, GENBAND looks at real-time communications in a whole new light. That entails building phone systems that leverage application servers as opposed to offering voice-only PBXs, and that welcome the developer community to innovate around new ways to leverage real-time communications.

New Levels of Creativity Once Communications Are in the Cloud

Once communications has moved to the cloud, there is unlimited potential to build creative, even embedded real-time communications solutions. GENBAND’s Kandy (News - Alert) platform-as-a-service makes it possible to quickly develop and add features, using application programming interfaces and a software development kit for mobile applications.

“Voice will increasingly be woven into a variety of interactions and interfaces,” Jorgl explained. “In the future, teams will be able to initiate a voice session with one touch inside a workflow application.”

Kandy is a platform-as-a-service that allows service providers like the telcos to expose their network resources using APIs, SDKs, and Quick Starts so developers can more easily leverage them to bring real-time communications to their applications. The end result is to enable businesses to connect with their customers in the places they choose to be and work, and to help organizations expedite the introduction of real-time communications features in the interfaces of their choice by providing an array of network resources in easy-to-use building blocks.

For example, Kandy and other GENBAND technology could be used to build a solution that enables a business to provide customer service via a click-to-call feature on its website and provide the service representative with contextual insight on the caller’s browsing history.

“Our platform is revolutionizing the help desk – click-to-call, click-to-chat, click-to-video, co-browsing – all in the webpage,” Jorgl said.

Leveraging Kandy in this way can enable an organization to eliminate half its inbound contact center costs because those calls now originate over the web, eliminating dial tone costs. It also can help businesses improve the online customer service they deliver by offering more personalized experiences and the ability for agents and customers to interact with one another in real time via voice, video, and/or co-browsing communications.

“What's very interesting now is that these solutions save serious money – starting with things like reduction in 800-number fees, and going to call routing technologies that enable more employees to work from home, which can reduce the costs of salaries and travel expenses,” Jorgl said. “At the same time, these solutions are adding value by driving more revenue and loyalty for companies through an awesome customer experience.”

Taking It to Market

These kinds of capabilities open the door for a wide variety of new services and capabilities that can be provided to clients from a broad range of solutions providers.

The communications service providers that started life as telephone companies are obviously a key target group for GENBAND. But GENBAND is also working with go-to-market partners that are coming at this opportunity from other angles.

For example, an organization that sells domain names and builds and hosts websites could potentially increase its customer spend by leveraging GENBAND technology to enable real-time communications via those websites. These organizations would use the same technology in their customer support experience and then be a channel to imbed that same capability in their customers’ websites.  Mobile virtual network operators and partners like Samsung could cater to small businesses by allowing them to enable a second mobile number on their existing smartphone and enjoy auto attendant features via their existing cell phone network rather than using a network sensitive OTT solution or complicated hosted VoIP alternative. And equipment companies that sell endpoints could use GENBAND capabilities to build solutions that allow doctors to use their smartphones at work with a unique business line that shields their personal numbers from patients and colleagues.

“Our channel partners and communications service providers who bring our solutions to their customers are thrilled because we have created a path to the cloud and offer platforms like Kandy,” Jorgl noted. “The great news is all this works over the existing systems. Because we are managing everything through orchestration layers – the PBX, the desktop phones, the mobile devices, the directories – the life blood of communications we built over the last decade still works.

“The upgrades are transparent to users,” he added, “who can continue to be productive in the usual way while also starting to experience new ways to interact with each other, and with prospects and customers securely over the Internet using browser-based, real-time communications software approaches.”

GENBAND, its partners, and customers will talk more about all of this next month at the Perspectives15 event at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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