SMBs are call centers too.

Author:Linask, Erik
Position:High Priority

There are two approaches to the small and mid-sized business (SMB) market--treat it as a unique market or as a downsized enterprise. It's a dilemma that many telephony vendors have struggled with over the years and, while some have succeeded, many have failed to make a significant impact on the market.

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The call center market mirrors this scenario. In fact, the SMB is perhaps even more at a disadvantage when it comes to call center technology than with other communications solutions, because many vendors overlook them entirely, ignoring the thoughts of TMC Founder and Chairman Nadji Tehrani: Every company is a call center, no matter how small.

I had a chance to talk to a call center technology vendor founded on this very principle. In fact, my conversation with Jim Southwell, general manager at Infratel, started off by discussing the need for SMBs to have access to their own set of call center technologies that offer cost effective alternatives to enterprise products without sacrificing feature richness or sacrificing the latest market trends.

In fact, Infratel has taken to heart an idea that some vendors have, to their detriment, overlooked: The SMB market is unique and is difficult to serve simply by downsizing a large enterprise product. In fact, that very fundamental is what prompted a group of former Genesys employees to launch Infratel back in 1999, understanding that, while SMBs need many of the same capabilities as large enterprises, they have neither the budgets nor the personnel to manage and maintain the same systems.

Enter Infratel with its software-based call center that runs on a standard Windows server, eliminating the need for additional infrastructure while providing all the functionality most SMBs require. In addition, while it integrates easily with existing PBXs, for those that require it, Infratel includes an integrated IP PBX, further simplifying the communications infrastructure. Southwell says about a third of its customers leverage Infradapt's PBX.

Taking it a step further (and line with one of the hottest trends in technology), Southwell noted that Infratel is also working with Parallels and its Automation product to deliver a full turnkey cloud-based call center for the SMB, further driving down costs and management requirements.

"The cloud is exciting and it's going to be a factor," he says. "It's a good alternative for SMBs so they don't have to bear the burden of infrastructure."

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