Fonality Calls In Acquisition

By Sara Driscoll  |  Print this article Print


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Open-source telephony vendor Fonality buys CRM vendor Insightful Solutions to merge the technology.

Telephony vendor Fonality has made its first acquisition by purchasing open-source CRM provider Insightful Solutions.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will see Fonality embed Insightful's open-source customer resource management technology into its own open-source PBX telephony systems.

Chris Lyman, CEO at Fonality, in Los Angeles, said the company launched its first channel-only product, Trixbox, two months ago, and found that partners were looking for a CRM system alongside it. "The pain point wasn't telephony for the call center, it was CRM," he said. "We did use SugarCRM, an open-source CRM system, with our telephony, and then got to know Insightful."

Click here to read more about Fonality's efforts to reach small and midsize businesses.

Marc Englaro, formerly CEO of Insightful and now general manager of the CRM division at Fonality, said Insightful has gone from a two-man business two years ago to a 15-person business in 2007. He added that the two firms started talking and realized the opportunity they had. "We did some work on Trixbox and realized that telephony integration on open source wasn't something in the market for our SMB customer range," he said.

Lyman said following the acquisition Fonality will launch an integrated product in two stages. "The first version, which comes out this month, will have Insightful's CRM technology lightly integrated with ours. The second launch, next quarter, will be a fully integrated CRM and phone system based on open source."

He said the products would ship through the channel and that Fonality's VARs would not need lots of training to sell it. "Most of our VARs are from the data side, so selling the telephony system is actually more of a challenge for them. CRM is a great product for the channel, because it's sticky and we'll be selling at 40 percent less than Salesforce.com," he said.

Sara Driscoll began her journalism career at 16 years old on her local newspaper, The Watford Observer. Working part time, she covered a range of beats. Leaving to complete her Journalism Degree at Bournemouth University, UK, Sara then went on to graduate and work for Emap. She began as a reporter on APR, Emap's construction title, being promoted to senior reporter with a year.Sara then joined VNU Business Publications as Deputy News Editor on CRN, the weekly trade title for channel players. She covered industry/business news from vendors, distributors and resellers, product announcements, partner announcements as well as market and trend analysis, research and in depth articles to predict up and coming trends in the sector. She was promoted within a year to News Editor, a year later to Deputy Editor and the following year became Editor. Sara remained editor of CRN for three years, launching the magazine on new platforms including CRN TV and eBooks, as well as several magazine and web site redesigns. She was called on for expert industry comment from various publications including appearing on live BBC news programs. Sara joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as Editor of eWeek Channel Insider. She runs the title in all formats – online up to the minute news, newsletters, emails alerts and events. She also manages the brand of Channel Insider in all formats - events, shows, awards, panel debates and roundtables.Sara can be reached at:sara.driscoll@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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