PBX vendor Aastra say that in the UK, the SME user today is more demanding than ever before, and features which were once the preserve of the larger company are now demanded by the smaller organisations at an affordable price.
Mike Ballantine, Product Marketing Manager at Aastra says to operate efficiently in today’s competitive market, SMBs expect ACD functionality for their sales teams, the integration of remote and home workers, presence management and for their phone to work with their IT systems and databases.
“With our leading presence on the European SMB market, Aastra understood this need to offer a wealth of features for small businesses. IntelliGate products offer such advanced features and more with, for example, multi-site networking, advanced CTI tightly integrated with Microsoft Exchange and FMC solutions based on the SIP standard.”
Ballantine adds, “The wide choice of handsets is also crucial to ensure everyone gets the right one. Aastra offers the handset of choice for every user. This could be a feature-rich IP handset, a simple analogue telephone, an integrated DECT handset, a digital handset, softphone or even a Fixed Mobile Convergence solution using the new range of GSM/Wi-Fi handset supporting SIP such as the Nokia E Series.
The availability of a wide range of IP system handsets at an affordable price now makes IP extensions attractive to the SME, not only for remote users, but as the key infrastructure in green-field deployments. Aastra was among the first companies to offer SIP handsets and since the SIP standard has grown in popularity providing more choice; and lower prices to customers looking for new telephony solutions.
SMB should also check if the telephony system they are looking to purchase support SIP Trunks. This provides cost effective and flexible IP links to an operator’s network in the place of traditional ISDN. As well as cost savings, SIP trunks permit users a “virtual” local presence allowing users to have an apparent presence anywhere in the country or even worldwide; and easily move and divert numbers between exchanges. Both Aastra IntelliGate 150 and 300 systems support SIP trunks.
And what of Microsoft? Although much of the current marketing hype with Microsoft in the telephony space relates to OCS which aimed at the larger enterprise, Microsoft recently announced Response Point, an SME focused telephone solution whose launch is initially in North America. Microsoft has teamed up with a small number of partners to bring Response Point to market, including Aastra Telecom opening new opportunities in the IT channels.
Resellers play a vital part in educating users as to the benefits that the latest telephony technology can bring to their business. A clever reseller adds real value by cutting through the jargon and focusing on the solutions, whether cost-based or feature-led. Certainly Aastra accredited partners undergo extensive training in selling IntelliGate to vertical markets – helping to deliver a solution that is specifically suited to their customer’s requirements.”