Web-Based PBX-like Services Make Advances

 
 
By Caron Carlson  |  Posted 2001-12-10
 
 
 

To bring advanced communications to an expanding operation, travel agency stalwart Atlantic-Pacific Carlson Wagonlit Travel is forgoing traditional PBX service in favor of Web-based phone, messaging and collaboration services from GoBeam Inc. The travel agency is now testing a new Web-based console from GoBeam, slated for unveiling later this month.

Integrating new offices – especially those brought on board through acquisitions – into an enterprise communications network presents challenges for any organization, but especially for industries reliant on the phone for customer service. The San Jose, Calif., franchise of Carlson Wagonlit was unable to support far-flung agents on its in-house PBX. With GoBeam, it is able to fully integrate a new office into the network in the time it takes the new office to obtain broadband connectivity. The only equipment needed is an IP telephone or a client adapter that sits between the telephone and the broadband connection.

Today, about 50 employees of the travel agency use the system, but if acquisitions proceed as expected, that number will triple by June, according to Mike Pacelli, vice president and CIO at Atlantic-Pacific Carlson Wagonlit.

"I can tell you exactly who is on the phone, whos not on the phone, who has calls waiting, whos got voice messages unanswered," Pacelli said. "I can manage the system regardless of where the employees are."

GoBeams managed service, targeted at enterprises with 20 to 500 employees, features demand conferencing, click-to-call, instant messaging, "find-me" call forwarding and auto-attendant, among others.

"The find-me feature is extremely valuable to an executive such as myself because Im on the move a lot," Pacelli said. "I can actually have it operate almost like a personal secretary."

GoBeam, in Sunnyvale, Calif., will soon roll out a new "soft console" that lets users monitor and analyze calls at any location in real time from any Internet-ready PC. Atlantic-Pacific Carlson Wagonlit is the first to test the product. For a service industry like the travel business, the soft console helps ensure responsive customer service.

"What GoBeams all about is trying to make the service come to you," said Bob Fultz vice president of business development. "Existing circuit-switched technologies that people have known and loved for decades are being replaced by service-based technologies."

The soft console has a Web-based interface that lets management see all communications activities; a call status feature that shows when employees are on a call and whether it is inbound or outbound; caller ID; and call duration.

GoBeams pricing resembles cellular phone rates with buckets of minutes for outbound calls. Calls between the companys own sites are free because they do not leave the Internet.

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