Vertical Communications’ Singular Offering
What do Sherlock Holmes and Vertical Communications have in common? Over the past few weeks I’ve been watching the BBC series “Sherlock,” which places Sherlock and Dr. Watson in modern day London, complete with computers, cell phones, and the Internet. At a Vertical Communications Analyst Day event last week, I kept thinking about Sherlock and Watson, and couldn’t figure out why until I watched the next episode – then all the pieces of the mystery came together in a singular instant. It was elementary – the term “singular,” which I’ve come to associate with Sherlock Holmes, was uttered repeatedly by the Vertical representatives. When used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Sherlock fans, such as in "Sherlock Holmes in the Singular Case of the Plural Green Mustache" or "The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles,” the term singular means odd, one of a kind, or bizarre.
However, the term also refers to when there is only a single instance of something. This is how Vertical is using the term singular to refer to its pricing model, which combines all technologies into a single license. Throughout the analyst meeting, the Vertical executives referred to this singular licensing as one of the value propositions for both channel partners and end user customers, and the analysts I spoke with agreed that this is a significant advantage.
Vertical offers three primary products: Wave IP, MBX IP, and SBX IP. The MBX IP and SBX IP are basic IP key systems with voice mail for small and very small businesses, while the Wave IP is the company’s flagship IP product that supports 20-500 users. As an appliance that comes in three different versions, Wave IP offers IP telephony, personalized call handling, visual voice mail, unified messaging, presence, IM, call recording and archiving, soft phone, mobile extension, embedded SIP trunking, Exchange integration, and the ViewPoint Desktop and Mobile client. The singular license includes all of these capabilities, and customers just turn on the features they want when they want them. Since the services and applications reside in the Wave IP box, there’s no need for additional servers or hardware. The user license retails for under $75 per user, although there’s also a charge for the hardware appliance and the endpoint devices.
The idea is that by making the enhanced IP and UC capabilities available to all users without having to pay extra for these capabilities, more workers will use these capabilities and get the benefits of them. As COO Rick Dell pointed out when discussing the lack of unified communications usage in organizations, “Because they haven't used the capability, it's impossible to see and equate the value.” He pointed out that unless you use the UC capabilities, it's hard to see the value to your organization. Vertical combats this by providing every user with full softphone, mobility, call logging, etc., in order to increase usage. Dell noted that call logging is being deployed on every system and that "I can't ply call logging out of a customer's hands right now."
Optional enhanced capabilities such as call center are available via an add-on license, with the advantage of not requiring additional servers. Call center capabilities (voice only) are integrated in the system and provide queuing and distribution, integrated agent and supervisor desktop, skills-based routing, integrated IVR, database integration, expected wait time and position in queue announcements, and more. The call center capabilities are limited to voice only today, although the company plans on adding IM and email capabilities next year.
Until recently, SMBs had very few options for deploying UC. Today, companies like Mitel, ShoreTel, Cisco, NEC, Avaya, and others all have offerings specifically aimed at SMBs. Vertical Communications is not as well known as these companies, but has a very price-competitive product that should appeal to businesses with many branch offices and remote locations, particularly in Vertical’s verticals – including retail, hospitality, and health care. While the company has to re-engage in the market and build up awareness, Vertical’s singular licensing offers a singular solution for franchises and organizations with lots of small offices and locations. It’s elementary.