Vendors Pump Up VOIP for SMBs, ResellersBy Paula Musich | Print
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VOIP vendors, including Toshiba and Qovia, have their sights on SMBs with new VOIP management services and contact center features.
Better management of voice over IP technology as well as enhanced management of call center activities is the focus of several new or enhanced products to debut at the Internet Telephony conference in San Diego on Oct. 10.
A handful of VOIP vendors, including Toshiba, Qovia, Switchvox and Spanlink Communications, are targeting small and midsize businesses and resellers with new VOIP management services, enhanced monitoring and management, and better contact center supervision features.
Toshiba America Information Systems' Telecommunication Systems Division for its part will launch a new network assessment service based on Apparent Networks' AppCritical tool.
The service, which Toshiba will provide directly or offer through its resellers with more VOIP experience, will provide pre-deployment assessment of the customers' existing network or troubleshooting of installed Toshiba Strata CIX IP PBXes.
The service, based exclusively on AppCritical, is intended to insure greater availability and performance of the Toshiba VOIP systems, according to David Fridley, senior product manager of IP Telephony Solutions at Toshiba in Irvine, Calif.
Fridley said that dealers can arrange to have Toshiba test to a particular set of IP addresses or sites using Apparent Networks' software and figure out what's going on at a particular site.
"This is something we can do from here. So far we've found quite a bit of things by being able to do this from here. We end up with a report we hand back to the service provider and say, 'Here's the problem you need to fix.' Other times we have information for the particular network layout, or the end user needs a better agreement over the service he needs," said Fridley.
Toshiba will also sell the AppCritical software to dealers that have greater experience with VOIP deployments, allowing them to create new assessment services that they can offer to users.
"Our dealers can offer this to their customers. We don't go around our dealers," Fridley said. Toshiba has 400 dealers in 800 locations across the United States.
The service is available this month from Toshiba, and the software will be available to resellers by November.
Meanwhile, enterprise IP telephony management provider Qovia will launch version 3.0 of its IP Telephony Manager software focused on speeding time to resolution for problems affecting call quality.
A handful of enhancements in the new release deliver more customizable reporting, broader data collection across application, server and network devices, more granular grading of call quality and support for Cisco CallManager 5.0.
The monitoring and management software covers VOIP equipment from Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and NEC.
The enhanced reporting system includes a customizable portal as well as a report builder that allows end users or service providers to develop unique views into management data collected by the IP Telephony Manager. The data is stored in an open database optimized for reporting.
The new release is due by the end of 2006.
SMB-focused Switchvox, upgraded its IP PBX to allow customers to better manage their IP phone system as well as agents using it in contact center applications.
Switchvox SMB version 2.6 includes support for more complex network environments that have multiple VPNs, streamlined updating to new features, and the ability to dial by first as well as last name in its directory.
The enhanced Switchvox SMB PBX also adds extended call monitoring and updates to the Switchboard feature. Those updates include the ability to see who each person is on the phone with; It can also monitor, record or pick up calls with a single mouse click, see the status of other agents in the queue and how long someone has been on hold.
New call monitoring features facilitate the coaching of contact center agents by allowing a supervisor to jump in on calls or allow colleagues to listen in on conversations.
Version 2.6 is available now.
Finally, Spanlink on Wednesday will launch a new hand-held tool to allow contact center supervisors to monitor and communicate with call center agents no matter where they are located.
The Spanlink Mobile Supervisor Workstation devices use a wireless link to keep supervisors in contact with off-site agents.
It is aimed at improving productivity and maintaining consistent customer interaction by allowing supervisors to provide effective coaching and get instant notification of contact center activity and problems.
The handheld device provides features such as chat, barge-in, intercept, Web page push, silent monitoring and recording of live agent calls.
At the same time it gives the supervisors status information about the contact center environment to allow them to quickly react to changes.
It is available now.
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