Unified comms inspired by IKEA

Firstcom, a Scandinavian company, started to develop a cloud-based PBX system as early as 2005. Their philosophy was to use Scandinavian style to create a unified comms solution that had clean lines, no clutter or unnecessary details and was pleasing to the eye. At the same time, they wanted the product to be functional and easy to use. The focus was on user friendliness, making a tool that was intuitive and matched the way people work.

As Per Heideby and Jon Schøpzinsky, the early designers of the unified comms product said, “We decided that to meet our criteria we should make a product with a graphical user interface for creating IVRs and use text to speech for announcements have a spacious layout with fresh colours. We also wanted the product to be simple to set up and get started. We wanted to be the IKEA of unified comms. The product was intended to offer a wide range of features and so it was named Universe.”

In 2013 Firstcom was bought by a British company, VoIP.co.uk, and Firstcom Europe was born. It expanded through Europe to Germany, Poland, Sweden as well as making additional acquisitions in Denmark and the UK. There was a total of 8 acquisitions in 6 years and today Firstcom Europe now has a growing annual turnover of more than £35m.

Christian Bleakley CEO of Firstcom Europe, observed that “being part of a European wide company has allowed us each to learn from our experiences in different countries. Denmark and Sweden tend to be the leaders in terms of market development. Learning from them helps us with product design and market insights.”

In the UK, Firstcom Europe has a partner programme that offers significant benefits to resellers. According to partner channel director, Chris Walters, “Our unified comms product is great to demonstrate, with customers being delighted at how easy it is to use and impressed at the simplicity of tasks such as making changes to the IVR. We find that our churn rate is very low, as once customers have our product, they tend to like it and keep their business with our partners. Our mantra is: give value to customers, generate revenue for partners, provide great sales support.

“To stand out, resellers need to demonstrate how they can add value to a client’s business. Our experience is that to do well, a reseller needs to be able to demonstrate features that translate as relevant benefits. But it is not just about features, a solutions provider needs to make products that are intuitive and easy to use.”

Firstcom’s view is that the pandemic has not simply accelerated the march towards unified comms, it has changed the way we work forever. Today the channel is faced with the challenge of providing not just a phone system, but also video, fax, instant messaging, voice calls and collaboration tools. Soon almost everyone will link their computer, mobile and fixed handset together to use all these features. This coupled with the ability to work almost anywhere, make unified comms not only a compelling product, but one that is here to stay.

According to Bleakley, “when people begin to like and use features, taking them away becomes impossible. If you think of the development of the mobile phone. We now expect our phones to have cameras. It has completely changed the way we take photos. So, it will be with unified comms.

“Our development team is still based in Denmark and remain committed to the ideals of our early designers… to help businesses and people to communicate in the cloud, sharing thoughts, ideas and information.”

Why not request a demonstration of Universe? Call Chris Walters today on 0333 023 7032.

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