Calling Small-Business, Remote Offices

Vertical Networks' new suite pushes call management features beyond the central PBX system.

Vertical Networks Inc. is expanding call management capabilities available to small businesses, branch offices and retail stores with a new suite of applications for its IP PBX system.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company this week is introducing its InstantOffice Call Management Suite, which adds a set of customizable applications to its InstantOffice Integrated Communications Platform. The suite includes capabilities for call routing and queuing, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), integration with enterprise databases, and reporting on calling patterns. Many of the suites features are traditionally centralized in bigger PBX or voice-over-IP systems at a headquarters location, but Vertical Networks approach pushes those capabilities out to smaller locations so they can be better customized to local needs while maintaining centralized management, officials said.

Guidance Software Inc., in Pasadena, Calif., uses an InstantOffice system for IP telephony at its main office to support about 50 people and is interested in additional voice applications, said Josh Bell, network engineer. The company currently uses a predecessor application to the Call Management Suite for call routing and queuing, which is important for supporting customers using its forensics software products.

"For a company our size, its hard to find a good product to do call routing and queuing," Bell said. "Theyre taking what theyve got and taking it to the next step. Im looking forward to it myself."

Call Management Suite is available now for InstantOffice 3500 and 5500. Call routing and queuing and IVR are priced at $2,000 each or can be purchased in a bundle for $3,500. Reporting capabilities come with both applications, while the integration is quoted based on the project.

The call routing and queuing application allows users to route a call based on caller ID, the number dialed or the touch-tone digit entered and send it to the employee with the most expertise, as well as have calls wait in a queue for assistance. With the IVR application, users can set up script-based menus and prompts based on Microsoft Corp.s VBScript. They can be customized to the needs of an office. Vertical Networks has also developed some scripts for catalog order entry and for filling prescriptions by phone, officials said.

Call Management Suite permits integration between InstantOffice and an enterprise database through ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) and COM (Component Object Model) standards. All the applications include reporting capabilities to analyze caller behaviors and experience, such as the number of dropped calls and length of wait times.