Tuesday, August 21

Five Smart VoIP Moves

By The VAR Guy

The VAR Guy has spent considerable time discussing voice-over-IP this week during conferences in New York and Colorado Springs. Here are five key moves VoIP solution providers need to make, based on separate chats with executives from Avnet, SugarCRM and Sun Microsystems, among other companies.

5. Connect VoIP to Customer Relationship Management (CRM): This was a central theme during a SugarCRM conference in New York on Monday. And the same theme emerged during Avnet’s partner conference in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. That’s why Cisco Systems is working with Salesforce.com. VARs that only specialize in voice or data are missing a big opportunity in the CRM space.

4. Extend VoIP to Include Storage and Content Management: This tip came from John Paget, president of Avnet Technology Solutions Global. Here’s a prime example of Paget’s thought process: A law firm will certainly value VoIP linked to CRM. But taking the system a step further and connecting it to content management/storage will increase billable hours for lawyers. When a call comes in, the lawyer could receive a pop-up window displaying customer info (from the CRM system) as well as legal documents from the content management system. Sounds like a slick solution. Too bad The VAR Guy can’t take credit for the concept.

3. Keep An Open Source Mind: During the SugarCRM event, several attendees expressed interest in connecting CRM systems to Asterisk, the open source VoIP platform. In fact, several VARs have already written hooks between Asterisk and SugarCRM.

2. Master Mesh: While traditional WiFi gear continues to dominate the enterprise, wireless mesh gear is finding a home on city streets, on college campuses and in warehouses that need longer-range WiFi connections.

1. Use the L Word: Leasing. Yes, leasing. Include a leasing option in all VoIP sales proposals. If the customer selects the option, it will be like winning a managed service business with recurring revenue.



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