Response Point was a powerful tool, offering SMB’s enterprise-class communications features at a cost-effective price that wouldn’t break an SMB budget. Unfortunately for Response Point they were also aggressivley developing Office Communications Server 2007 and their Unified Communications platform and the two are not compatible with each other. That lack of integration or upgrade path from one to the other is a significant part of why Microsoft has decided to kill Response Point.
SMB’s still need communications though. Joe Schurman, CEO of Evangelyze Communications and author of Microsoft Voice and Unified Communications, wrote a blog post with a sort of post mortem assessment of Response Point and some advice for Microsoft on how to proceed to capture that same SMB market and get them migrated to OCS 2007 and Microsoft UC.]]>
SP2 adds a number of new features that users have been asking for since SP1 was released last summer. With SP2, the Response Point Auto Attendant feature can now be configured on a schedule. That enables customers to set up the Auto Attendant so it only answers during off-hours, or holidays, or whenever needed. SP2 also adds parked call return. That means that a parked call will ring back to get someone’s attention after a defined timeframe (no longer than 3 minutes). That helps to ensure that customers aren’t forgotten and left on hold forever.
There are many more new features and improvements. There are new technologies for improving call quality, VPN connectivity, analog phone line capabilities, and general overall improvements in Response Point performance. Check out the Microsoft Response Point SP2 site to learn more about the latest features and to download SP2. If you are looking for a resource to really help you understand, deploy, configure, or sell Response Point phone systems, read Harry Brelsford’s Microsoft Response Point Primer – Cut the Strings.]]>
They may not have the budget available to invest in a suitable unified communications solution, the infrastructure available to accommodate a unified communications solution, or the resources available to implement and maintain a unified communications solution. Thankfully for companies like these, unified communications is quickly growing as a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) offering. SaaS is a great way for a company to get the features and functions they need without all of the up front investment, or ongoing maintenance that comes with deploying a technology internally.
There can be a downside as well though. Buying a SaaS product or service on price alone is a recipe for disaster. You get what you pay for and often the cheapest provider is actually undercutting themselves and operating at a loss just to win customers. That is a shortsighted business plan that quickly collapses on itself when there is no revenue to sustain the services being provided and suddenly the SaaS provider simply fades away. If you are considering SaaS, for unified communications or any other service, take a look at this article from MSNBC.com for a list of the questions you should ask and the research you should do in order to make a sound decision and select a SaaS provider that you can rely on.]]>
Mike Stacy, a Director with Evangelyze Communications, explains in his blog what separates SmartChat from other live chat type applets found on web sites. “In addition to simple chat, SmartChat has capabilities for reporting on the browser history (“I see you were looking at sweaters on our website”), enabling co-browsing (automatically navigating the web visitor’s browser), integrating with Microsoft CRM, and adding audio/video or desktop sharing to the conversation. Best of all, you don’t need any additional software on either side of the conversation. Flash is required for audio/video, but most people on the web already have this anyway.”
In Stacy’s blog, he also mentions that Microsoft is conducting a case study based on SmartChat and the ability to tap into the Microsoft Office Communications Server in new and innovative ways that extend its unified communications capabilities.]]>
Now there is a simple, cost-effective solution. At VoiceCon 2008 in San Francisco this week, Evangelyze Communications unveiled their new offering- SmartVoIP. Joe Schurman, Founder and CEO of Evangelyze Communications, introduced the solution which integrates Microsoft’s Response Point communications system for small and medium businesses with the more robust Office Communications Server and enterprise class unified communications.
“We are incredibly proud of this achievement and the opportunity that this solution brings to organizations with remote and branch office communications needs. Through the power of VoIP and using our joint collaborative integration service, we are now able to connect offices globally in a scalable manner, leveraging our innovative services and Quintum’s breadth of scalable gateway devices. As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner who has achieved the Unified Communications competency Voice specialization, our customers are assured they are hiring a qualified vendor to deploy Microsoft’s latest unified communications voice technologies,” said Schurman.]]>