M5 Networks, Inc., headquartered in New York, New York, claims to have pioneered voice as a service in 2000, and today serves a broad base of mid-size businesses.
The company also has an interesting mission statement: "Growing our recurring profits from referenceable clients" (i.e., clients that are willing to recommend M5s services to other businesses), and being "sincere, competent, reliable, and focused." These objectives appear to be paying off, as the company is ranked number 2,065 in Inc.s 5,000 Fastest Growing Private Companies for 2008, and has garnered a number of other awards in the past few years, including accolades from Unified Communications Magazine (2008 Product of the Year), American Venture Magazine (2007 Top 40 Under 40), Pulver.com (2002-2007 Pulver 100), Deloitte (2006 Technology Fast 500), and Frost & Sullivan (2004 Entrepreneurial Company Award).
The company claims to serve over 1,000 clients in the greater New York area, including firms in the corporate real estate, financial services, government, media and public relations, legal services, retail, and software development sectors.
The M5 Voice as a Service platform is provided to their clients through private, point-to-point T-1 plus a backup circuit (either T-1 or DSL), connecting to a shared-tenant, hosted PBX. M5 uses Cisco networking equipment, Cisco 7900-series IP phones, plus the hosted IP PBX to connect their clients to multiple voice and data networks for both local and long distance voice and Internet connectivity. Redundant servers, routers, and voice gateways are located in carrier-grade facilities, thus increasing the reliability of the overall solution. In addition, M5s facilities connect to multiple telecom providers and multiple Internet service providers, thus minimizing the likelihood of service outages.
M5s architecture includes applications that measure, integrate, and enhance business practicesall designed to give their customers a competitive edge in the marketplace. This system includes five key elements designed to enhance productivity:
- Latest technology: Allowing clients to enjoy the benefits of the latest features, products, and technology, without the need to purchase new equipment.
- Scalability: Offering an on-demand service, that allows clients to add and subtract users via an easy-to-use online portal, without requiring involvement from IT resources.
- Business reporting tools with applications that measure call-throughs to quantify campaign success rates, track sales activities, and provide more accurate forecasts.
- Integration with CRM systems that provides detailed phone-based activity, compiling information for sales performance, marketing targets, and insights into buyer habits.
- Remote access: connections from the M5 facilities to client offices are via a private T-1 network, with additional phones connected through a broadband Internet connection, thus providing employees access to the office communications system from home, a hotel, or a satellite office.
In addition to the Voice as a Service platform, M5 provides some specialized offerings.
The M5 Sales Engine provides a mechanism to track the effectiveness of a sales team, and manage production volume calling. This system includes customizable call routing rules and hunt groups to ensure that each call gets answered appropriately, find-me/follow-me functionality to enhance the availability of sales representatives, plus real-time monitoring tools to help managers review phone usage.
The M5 Campaign Manager gives companies the ability to quantify the success of their advertising campaigns. Dedicated phone numbers are provided for each ad campaign with customizable call routing to funnel inbound calls to the right staff. Real-time management dashboards allow the marketers to evaluate responses and campaign effectiveness.
The M5 Call Center applies call center technology to smaller enterprises, assuring that long hold times are eliminated and customers are transferred to the right person to handle their call. This solution provides for real-time monitoring and customized call routing, plus optional call recording and promotions on hold.
Finally, the M5Scribe service transcribes voicemail from an M5 phone into text, and then sends it, along with an attached WAV file, to an e-mail address of choice. This service is targeted at mobile workers who need the convenience of visually reviewing their voicemail, being able to read who has called and what they said. Key information, such as return telephone numbers, is included in the email, for easy access and retrieval.
Further information on the M5 Networks solutions can be found at www.m5net.com. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.