I’ve had a few conversations recently with analysts and resellers about how Microsoft Lync is getting trials in many of the largest global corporations and this has traditional telecom equipment providers getting nervous. From these discussions you might surmise that the future of telecom is going to be dominated by Redmond. We know however there is also a major competing force in the market… Cloud-based services. Moreover, Microsoft’s dominance as an operating system seems to be coming to an end due to the onslaught of Android, iOS and Chromebooks. That leaves Microsoft’s cash-cow: Office… It too is under assault from Google Apps which is gaining share of cloud-based office suites at a pace that even alarmed Gartner back in April of this year. In fact, Google Apps had about 10 percent of the cloud-office market in 2007, 20 percent in 2009, and between 33 percent and 50 percent in 2012, according to Gartner’s analysis. At this point more than five-million organizations rely on Google Apps in fact.
The question is, how do you build a Lync-equivalent in the world of the cloud and does this even make sense to do? The answer seems to be SimpleSignal’s deployment of gUnify which connects the Broadsoft-compatible hosted PBX with Google Apps and even a number of other SaaS applications.
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Click to Dial to numbers detected in an email you are currently in (Matches contacts Name from your Contact list)
With the service you can use Gmail as your telephony interface allowing you to see the address book name of a person whose phone number was emailed to you. You can initiate conference calls from within Gmail, click-to-dial and take advantage of screen pops of caller information. There is integration with Google Contacts and with Google Calendar for conference calls. Also, when you have a conversation, you can note if it is billable (good for lawyers) and tag the call with different designations, the way you might add a #hashtag to a tweet.
Click to Log – Note Taking Example (Notes can Optionally be Synched to your CRM under Account tied to the phone number(s) below)
In a conversation with Ujjval Karihaloo, SimpleSignal’s Chief Technology Officer, he told me about how the system integrates with mobile and softphones allowing you to see a complete call history in one place regardless of how you communicated with others. You can further follow a stream of events based on a phone number allowing you to keep track of top customers for example.
Click 2 Conference Example
When a call begins, a notes field pops up as well and Karihaloo told me this will eventually integrate with CRM solutions. Salesforce integration will be announced soon followed by Zoho and Aptivo. Other great productivity-boosting functions are sending web links to conference call participants which allow them to bypass complex conference calling menu trees You just click a link which you are sent and start communications.
Eventually we can expect video and enhanced collaboration features providing more Lync-like functionality and for now the packages the company sells are geared towards unified communications and conferencing.
If cloud-based communications are the future of telecom and ditto for desktop apps then SimpleSignal and gUnify are well-positioned for the future. For Google to truly be competitive in the office space they need to do more with Broadsoft as it powers so many hosted telephony solutions on the market. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some news like this in the near future. Perhaps even next week at Broadsoft Connections.