Mark Goldberg

Speaking in unison

My consulting business and my conference company are considered to be small businesses.

In a small business, the owner is the CEO, but also the IT help desk – a job that consumed my time over the past few days after my computer died on Thursday morning. We make coffee, change the toilet paper roll, deal with accounts payable and receivables. You get the picture.

There is no communications specialist at many small businesses who is looking for more efficient ways to support the needs of the business. So frequently, small businesses continue with the same solutions they have always had, month after month, year after year. We always had a landline phone and its phone number is printed on our business cards and advertising collateral. And we have a mobile phone for each person. Landline phones seemed to have more features that suited the business so we forward calls to our mobile phones when we are away.

Now, Rogers has launched Unison, a mobile solution (built on Broadsoft’s unified communications platform) that allows small businesses to cut their monthly phone bill by disconnecting from the wireline network. Rogers says that a solution for larger businesses and the public sector will be available later this year.

Rogers Unison offers small businesses a simple web portal to change or modify features such as:

  • Look professional with ‘Auto Attendant’: A fully automated answering system greets customers and directs calls to the appropriate live person based on a directory of options.
  • Never miss a call with ‘Hunt Groups’: With Hunt Groups, incoming calls are routed from team member to team member until a live voice answers. This ensures a small businesses’ customer is never left on hold and can always reach someone live.
  • Create local identities with ‘Dual Persona’: Now customers can keep their existing local phone number and also use it on their mobile device. They can also appear to have a local presence in multiple regions by adding and routing ‘local’ numbers from multiple regions to their mobile device.

Larger businesses have been investing in IP voice solutions that provide elements of mobility – allowing people to work from home (or on the road) by just logging into their office voice and data systems from remote locations. Migrating to true mobility by putting business features onto mobile phones is a logical progression.

When I worked for Bell Labs 30 years ago, we were developing features for the toll-free networks to help airlines increase the percentage of calls that their agents could answer. A busy signal or lengthy time on hold could result in a customer calling a competitor. Think of a customer trying to reach a plumber with an emergency repair needed; you would search for someone who works in your area and start dialing until you get through to someone who answers the phone.

Canadian businesses increasingly rely on mobile devices to conduct business and they need access to more solutions like Rogers Unison that give them the breadth of services traditionally only available on office desk phones. It’s good to see Rogers offer a solution that brings all the features of landline phones to mobile devices. It seems to me that these kinds of capabilities can provide an opportunity for significant productivity gains and deliver savings at the same time.

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