Small businesses looking for an up-to-date phone system may well not have heard of Syspine. After all, it is a relatively small division of Quanta, a company better known as the world's largest producer of laptop computers. But they will certainly have heard of Microsoft.
What's the connection? Syspine is one of just three companies Microsoft has certified to run its Response Point telephony software, a phone system whose distinguishing characteristics include ease of use and deploymenta must for small businessesand a highly evolved voice-recognition system. (For the record, the other certified companies are D-Link and Aastra)
Response Point teamed with Syspine's DOS (Digital Operator System)-50 control unit and up to 50 of the company's IP-310 IP speakerphones makes up the Syspine Digital Operator Phone System. A core system, consisting of a four-line version of the DOS-A50 and four IP-310 phones goes for about $2,500, with additional phones at around $165 each.
According to Syspine Director of Sales and Marketing Robert Gordon, phone systems for small businesses (20 seats on average) must meet some key criteria. They must be inexpensive (judge for yourself) and they must be dead simple to install and maintain, which the Syspine Digital Operator system is.
"One problem SMBs face is they do not have the advantage of an IT staff," Gordon pointed out. "So these customers are trying to find complete solutions that are backed up by a vendor or brand they feel comfortable with."
The Microsoft brand, Gordon feels, "brings some level of confidence over who is putting stuff together and if it's going to work."
Complementing the gravitational force of the Microsoft name is the sizzle of Response-Point's built-in intelligence. Not only does the integral voice-recognition allow features like "speak-to-dial" (where the software 'understands' the names you speak into the phone, looks it up in your Outlook address book or company directory, and places or transfers the call), the integral auto attendant directs incoming calls, which in turn makes a positive contribution to a company's image.
"When I had the experience myself as an outside caller, I was blown away," Gordon told VoIPplanet.com. I felt like I had called American Airlines, where you have these high-end IVR systems. They are very intuitive, with this very crisp audio quality," he said. "And that is what these small businesses want. Small businesses want to look and sound big."
Beyond this, the Digital Operator system covers most of the PBX functions you'd expect: call parking, hold, transfer, call forwarding, conferencing, and voicemail (in this case voicemail to e-mail, so it can be retrieved anywhere you have an Internet connection).
But this summer (date not yet specified), the package will be getting even better. Microsoft will be issuing an update to Response Point Service Pack 1that, unlike a typical Microsoft Service Pack, will contain new feature functionality.
Foremost in significance will be support for SIP trunkinga direct SIP connection from the PBX to the customer's carrier or ITSPwith DID number support. This lowers costs and eliminates the PSTN from much or all of the call path. (Note: Digital Operator Phone System can function as a hybrid IP/PSTN system for those that want this.)
Joining SIP trunking will be "click-to-call"a dialing alternative to speak-to-call that lets users click any phone number on their computer screen to place a calland some administrative features that include customized call park music, a call history view, call restrictions on a per-phone basis, and a "device firmware upgrade tool" that updates the firmware of all a customer's phones at the same time.
Syspine does not attempt to reach or sell to its customers directly, because, as Gordon puts it, "the target end-user community is very difficult to get to." Accordingly, the company has formed a North American distribution network, which you can find here.