PBfleX is a division of PRO OnCall Technologies, LLC, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The privately held companys origins date back to the 1930s when they began as an Executone reseller. In the intervening decades, the company has had to reinvent itself several times to keep up with industry shifts and economic challenges, with specialties that have included hospital communications systems, premises wiring, digital and analog system design, PC and networking services, and more recently, evolving to offer converged business communications systems.
The firms objective is to provide a virtual CIO and IT department to its customers. In support of this mission, it offers IT consulting services, carrier services, and a hosted PBX platform named PBfleX.
PRO OnCall currently represents Cisco, NEC, ShoreTel, Toshiba, Vertical, and Zultys systems. It has more than 80 employees in six regional offices located in Colorado, Georgia, and Ohio supporting over 8,200 customers.
PRO OnCalls PBfleX hosted PBX offering is designed to meet the needs of small and medium-size businesses needing from 1 to 100 phones per location.
According to a company spokesman, its platform has been in service since 2004, providing service throughout the United States and Canada. This system is designed to support businesses with limited IT staff, employees in multiple locations, a mobile workforce, and a high volume of long distance calling. Many of these customers are sales or customer care oriented.
The system is designed to support three different categories of end users applications: the fleXStation, providing a phone only, the fleXComm Manager for enterprise users, and the fleXCenter Manager for ACD users.
The fleXStation is intended for use in conference rooms or warehouses, and includes hard keys for hold, transfer, conference, and mute, programmable soft keys, and a scrollable call list that identifies missed, received, and placed calls. It also includes two more advanced features: voicemail, with a message waiting indicator, notification that can be sent to a cell phone or email account, plus the ability to have all voicemail sent to an email account as a .wav attachment; and disaster recovery, allowing the user to work from anywhere an Internet connection is available, initiate call forwarding on the fly, and use forwarding or follow-me to assure that calls are not missed.
The fleXComm Manager was developed for enterprise users, and includes all of the basic phone features plus a PC client to provide real time presence management, disaster recovery, and work-from-anywhere capability. The desktop interface, which is based on a .NET client, provides access to an extensive list of user controls for call history, outbound desktop faxing, on-demand call recording, selective call forwarding and routing, plus an integrated Outlook dialer. It also includes enterprise-class features for presence management that enables all of the users in the company to be seen, and determine if they are on the phone, the ability to manage how and where calls are delivered, and the option to select different voicemail greetings. Voicemail functions are also accessed via the .NET client, with notifications that can be sent to a cell phone or e-mail account, and the ability to have voice messages sent as e-mail attachments. This station type can access calls from anywhere via a Web browser or Internet connection with a laptop.
The fleXCenter Manager station is provided for automatic call distribution (ACD) users, providing all of the enterprise features, plus the capability to set up any number of queues and routing strategies. Phone calls and callbacks can be queued and distributed to agents and workgroups. The system supports many different queue types, including group ring workgroups, sequential ring workgroups, ACD queues and play time and position in queue. Selected workgroup queue statistics can be viewed on the client stations, with interaction details available for a supervisor. There is also a filtered presence feature, which allows the availability of agents to be tracked, along with a report on the time spent handling both ACD and non-ACD projects. These filtered status reports give the manager greater flexibility to receive detailed reports by project or time spent on behalf of a customer, with the statuses filtered by user, workgroup, or role.
The PBfleX system supports a number of phones, including analog phones with SIP adapters, plus selected Aastra and Polycom units. Phones are available for purchase, with a rental option available for the Polycom IP450. Installation time averages four weeks, including engineering, deployment, installation and professionally recorded greetings. Costs for the system are quoted on a customer-specific basis.
Further information on the PBfleX solutions can be found at www.pbflex.com. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
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.