Flexible telecom

Moving one’s home can be, I’m sure many will agree, a challenging, stressful experience at the best of times. The same holds true for relocating a business, something the Business Excellence team have experienced first-hand recently. As anyone in the publishing business will attest to, there is a lot more to a company like ours than simply a few individuals who produce the features you see before you. Indeed the reality is that a vast amount of infrastructure contributes towards the day-to-day running of our business, the most important of all revolving around communications. Prior to our move we had long been users of a particular telecoms service provider, however in preparation for our relocation the opportunity was taken to look into possible alternative solutions that could support our operations as we entered a new era in our own development.

Until recently, we had been using a Hosted Service Provider. We looked into various alternatives from other hosted platforms (some were actually using the Bicom Systems PBXware Cloud Edition for Service Providers as it turns out!). We began to explore on-premise hardware options as it ÔÇ¿appealed to have the flexibility of using different service providers for call traffic. PBXware was billed as a software tool possessing more feature-functionality than perhaps any other product of its kind. We are very happy to say it lives up to its billing in every way.

The Move to PBXware
Given our new found familiarity with PBXware, we asked Bicom Systems for an install and must thank them for extending themselves in every manner. The download burned and installed smoothly. The set-up wizard took thirty-minutes. That may seem long but it was comprehensive and ÔÇ¿efficient in setting up the Communications platform to a point of basic working. Anyone with any ÔÇ¿experience with Linux could successfully install and start using PBXware.

The best part was that most of our staff couldn’t’ even tell the system had changed. While they may have noticed faster connections or clearer calls, there was no training or learning curve involved. We did not lose any days or even hours acquainting ourselves and ‘figuring out’ the new system. Desk phones were up and running quickly so calls were not lost. We were very pleased with the smooth transition process and impressed with the short amount of time it took.

More Feature-Functionality Than Ever Before
From the day we installed PBXware we began noticing and appreciating its features and tools. Going into each of those useful features would fill far too many pages, but we will highlight our two favorites here. PBXware’s Least-Cost Routing is truly phenomenal. This is something we do use frequently with calls to obscure locations. We have enjoyed a significant drop in expenditures on those calls. While most companies boast low connection costs and rates, it is not often that those claims hold true. On the contrary with PBXware, the rates are impressively low. Being able to use Bicom Systems’ SIP Trunks has been great.

Another favorite feature is the extreme flexibility of this platform. Bicom Systems is willing to ÔÇ¿customize and create a best-fit solution for the price of off-the-shelf. The fact that we can now ÔÇ¿control this customized platform on our own is truly amazing. That kind of flexibility makes PBXware stand out from the competition. We cannot imagine being restricted by another platform ever again.

While we have not yet fully taken advantage of the desktop application and softphone gloCOM, it does not take long to realize what a powerful and indispensable tool it is. Some of our employees have paired gloCOM with their desktop phones and are now able to control their phones from their desktop and enjoy features like being able to copy and paste a phone number from an excel sheet into gloCOM. We look forward to continuing to explore gloCOM and its enhancements to the ÔÇ¿desktop phone as well as its softphone features.

There are many other features we could discuss: conferencing, call recording and monitoring, enhanced ACD queues, routing, FoIP, instant messaging, LCR, and PSTN/VoIP trunks, to name a few. The “Advanced” section of each feature topic seems to deal with every scenario imaginable. Of course ‘every’ would be a little too far-fetched, but reading the sales literature they do have an answer to any and every missing feature!

Aside from the obvious benefits of these features and capabilities, we have noticed subtle changes in the office environment: more time to spend on customers or sales, better communication with our end users, even less stress in the workplace. PBXware and gloCOM, with their efficiency and ease-of-use, deserve some of the credit. We are looking forward to growing and evolving with PBXware and Bicom Systems at our side and hope service providers around the world would do well to consider providing their own customers with such a value add.

More on Bicom Systems
With the migration of our communications infrastructure complete and our expectations of Bicom Systems more than fulfilled it seems only fitting to take a closer look at how this particular business got to where it is today.

“About five years ago we asked ourselves a very important question; do we specialize in one part of the communications systems business or do we cover the whole breadth? We chose the harder, slower option of covering the whole range of products,” explains the man responsible for Bicom Systems’ worldwide sales, Stephen Wingfield.

“We did this for several reasons,” Wingfield continues. “Most of our core was the same technology and the investment is there to be reused, what you learn from different onsite installs can be fed into the Hosted Edition and likewise. However, the single greatest driving factor is our belief that each reseller relationship is our most valuable asset and that in communications, you simply do not know what your next sale wants.”

Available in Business, Call Center, and Multi-Tenant editions, PBXware has been deployed to thousands of organizations from small businesses to non-profit organizations to governments to enterprises and service providers. Increasingly, service providers are incumbents as well as challengers as Bicom Systems SWITCHware supports the growing number of large self-healing clusters.

“We work very hard with resellers at pre-sales,” Wingfield states, “often providing the quotes and the materials at source so they can be adapted to local language & conditions. Often though, what wins the bid is to provide a custom solution for the cost of off-the-shelf. The argument can be devastating when up against traditional vendors. Why pay large amounts and possibly still not have exactly what you need. With PBXware if we don’t have it, we will build it to your exact need.”

This sounds tall at first but one of the things that we appreciated most about PBXware is its Open Source Flexibility and the way that flexibility is in the DNA, not just of the product, but the company. Built on Asterisk, PBXware was the world’s first Professional Turnkey Communications System to use open source. “A few times we considered whether to open up and create ‘another’ Open Source Project. However we never did. We stuck with the notions of turnkey and the commercial guarantee to work. It’s paid off well. Others came and went, we’re still investing,” Wingfield adds.

That turnkey principal has been taken by Bicom Systems in two directions. One is for the service provider. With their TELCOware product, a provisioning system allows the delivery of a Turnkey Phone Company.

The other direction of the turnkey principle is in Unified Communications. gloCOM is the desktop application that brings together online chat, video, presence, parking, faxing and more. “gloCOM is a very major play for us,” Wingfield elaborates. “For service providers offering the hosted model it deals with their two biggest issues, stickiness & churn!”

As before what seemed like an almost extravagant claim, was justified with what was clearly a very deep knowledge and far-sighted approach by the company. Where many service providers constantly have to lower their bundle costs just to keep customers, Bicom Systems sees a very genuine alternative business model.

In the near future gloCOM will be going mobile. Not as just another SIP client that scarcely works but to treat smartphones as an equal part of the switch. Whether you are at your desk or out and about you can be seen and you can see your

colleagues and interact with the same efficiency. For the service provider this means an integrated offer to customers, not just of ‘the mobile transport’, but the whole solution. More value, but significantly, a customer cannot just disassemble all of their IVRs, queues, desktop and mobile applications because a competitor is offering half a cent less to call grandmother on the weekend. The service providers that take this space first will be in a far less pregnable position going forward. Our individual journey with PBXware and Bicom System’s support team has been exceptional, with a painless migration of our entire infrastructure and great support from the Bicom team throughout the process.

Over the coming months we will revisit this subject and look at how Bicom Systems is helping ÔÇ¿others, particularly service providers like our readership.