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Interview: Making Small Companies Sound Big, Part 2

Innoport gives you the sound of a hosted PBX without all that hardware and expense By Charlie White

Intellicomm offers a service called Innoport, which gives individual users and businesses the functions of automated telephone hardware such as a hosted PBX without its associated high costs. The service can make a small business seem like a major corporation by screening callers, handling fax-to-email functions and finding its users by automatically calling a list of phone numbers, all the while playing the users choice of music to callers while they wait. Digital Media Nets Charlie White talked with Harprit Singh, President and CEO of Intellicomm, about the companys services in this second part of a two-part interview.

(Missed part 1? Here it is. )

DMN: A company thats far-flung could use this as well. Lets say they have employees in Los Angeles and New York, they could make it seem like all these people are the same place, couldnt they?

Singh: Exactly. In fact, not only in the U.S., it could be international. Think about if you have individuals outside the country?we have international customers who love the fact that you can just sign up in a heartbeat and get a U.S. presence. Thats amazing for people in all sorts of industries, whether its import/export, service providers, whether youre using it for outsourcing purposes?it goes back to the idea of virtual communications.

DMN: They get that area code, that you say is in the Philadelphia area, and it looks like theyre in the United States.

Singh: Right, but I dont want to put too much emphasis on the Philadelphia area code, simply because thats our starting point, if a local area code is not a concern to you. And youre right, for international folks, it may not be an issue. They can certainly go with the most inexpensive model. Certain large corporations also prefer it that way. They dont really care where the local number is, all they care about is the fact that they can get the service that is right for them. We also provide local area code numbers in several states, so if you really do want a presence in New York City or Fort Lauderdale or Tampa or L.A., you can certainly have it through this interface. On the corporate side of things, the best part is you can have as much coverage as you want. With one mouse click you can get a certain phone number and a certain location. You cant even do that at all with a telco right now.

DMN: This is a fairly new service, isnt it? How long have you been in business? Is it available now?

Singh: Oh, absolutely. It is available. In fact, we started the early versions of Innoport back in 1999. It started as a fax-to-email, the basic services. The hosted PBX model is fairly recent, and even though we introduced it a couple of years ago, weve been enhancing it ever since then. Really, the biggest challenge in this situation is education, educating the market that there are services like these available that somebody can use and really cut their costs dramatically, and increase their productivity phenomenally because you dont have to be tied to a location. And the beauty of it is its affordable for everyone, from an individual small office person to a Fortune 500 company?the same capabilities are available. So weve really shrunk the spectrum because we havent created a service which is only available to a certain demographic. The challenge is that everybody should know there is something like this out there and they can really use it to maximize their bottom line. 

DMN: This is a service thats being driven by a cultural phenomenon, isnt it? Can you speak a little about how many people are actually working away from the office now, working at home? This is a significant trend, isnt it?

Singh: Oh, absolutely. I dont have the current numbers, but I just recently last week received a quote from IDC that by 2009, 70% of the workforce is going to be mobile. 70%. If IDC is predicting 70%, thats a huge number.

DMN: Thats a whole lot more than right now, isnt it? Its only about 20% now, or 15%, isnt it?

Singh: I apologize that I dont have a current figure, but its dramatically lower now, from what I understand. That number theyre predicting, 70%, is mind-boggling. What would that entail? That has to entail technologies that will enable that mobility. Otherwise, that system is going to break down.

DMN: And thats where your company is sitting right in the middle, right in the catbird seat, right in the middle of the whole thing.

Singh: Absolutely. And despite of what we are currently offering, I tell people were just scratching the surface. The possibilities are immense. If you think about just the hosted PBX model, there are tons of things that we can add in terms of features and make them available overnight to our entire customer base, thats unprecedented.

DMN: Just with one software update on your side?.

Singh: Right. And the bottom line is, not only domestically but our customer base goes entirely global, and it will be available throughout the world. So really we would be taking advantage of what the Internet has brought to the technology infrastructure, and what were trying to do is take an age-old segment, which is hardware-based telecommunications, and create a fusion between the Internet and telephony.

DMN: It sounds like youre chipping away at the objections to people working at home. There are so many good things about working at home?people can save energy, they dont have to drive everywhere, theres not all this unnecessary office space. Businesses can save money in a whole lot of different ways with telecommuting, cant they?

Singh: Absolutely. Imagine the amount of time you can save telecommuting. The fact is that you no longer need access to a fax machine because it comes in your email. Your voice mail comes in your email. You have access to the Web. Really, like youre saying, the resistance, if there is any for telecommuting, starts withering away because theres really no reason not to. There are reasons from time to time where you need to meet face-to-face, or your work requires you to be present in person, but really, if you dont want to do that and you want to telecommute, the opportunities are ever-increasing with technologies like these. 

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Related Keywords:Intellicomm, Innoport, automated telephone hardware, hosted PBX, high costs, small business, telecommuting, screening callers, fax-to-email, Harprit Singh, President and CEO of Intellicomm, interview


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