Embarq Business, a division of Embarq, announced Tuesday it has partnered with IPcelerate Inc. to deliver industry-specific productivity applications to businesses using phone systems from Cisco Systems Inc.
IPcelerate’s IPsmartSuite enables users to perform business functions from their Cisco phone system through a touch-screen display on their IP phones. The applications are preconfigured for vertical markets, including health care, legal and retail.
“IPsmartSuite will revolutionize the way many of our small to midsized customers run their businesses,” said Susan Sarna, vice president of marketing and product management for Embarq. “It will make them more productive, streamline many time-consuming processes and improve the way they interact with their own customers.”
In a health care office, for example, IPsmartSuite assists with reminding patients about upcoming appointments. An employee can simply touch one icon on the phone’s display screen and the system automatically dials each patient and provides an automated appointment reminder, freeing up the employee to work on other important tasks.
IPsmartSuite originally was launched in spring 2007 for the UC500 system for business with fewer than 50 employees, but now IPsmartSuite also is available for larger businesses with up to 250 employees using the Cisco Unified Communications Manger Express (CME).
Embarq has been a Cisco distribution partner for nearly a decade, and has sold CME since its launch in 2003. The telco started selling UC500 last summer when it was launched.
Linda Izbicky, a product manager for Embarq, said the telco has several hundred locations installed, mostly using the larger system. IPsmartSuite, she added, represents an opportunity for Embarq to sell back into its existing base of CME users as well as for new sales of CME and UC500.
Embarq plans to sell the gear-application bundle along wit its network services, such as trunking and security.
Embarq Business works with each customer to develop a solution based on its needs. Its team of systems designers located throughout the 18-state Embarq territory also will work to integrate customer databases with the IPsmartSuite applications, which otherwise are ready to go off-the-shelf and require no programming on behalf of the customer or Embarq.
“This is an off-the-shelf business solution that is preconfigured based on the business’ industry,” said Kevin Brown, president and CEO of IPcelerate. “Business owners need only to answer one simple question that identifies their specific industry and the software automatically loads the appropriate applications. It’s designed for smaller businesses that may not have a dedicated IT department, so we purposefully made it very easy to set up and use immediately.”
Izbicky said the ease of use was a big selling factor. “One of the beauties of the product is it doesn’t require programming services or application development,” she said.
Pricing starts at $1,200 for smaller businesses and does not include costs for the phone system or a dedicated personal computer, which is needed to run the software.
IPsmartSuite normally is sold as an appliance, but Embarq has licensed the software application separately and will sell it along with a Dell server. Customers also may source their own Dell server as long as they also purchase a three-year maintenance agreement, Izbicky said.
“IPsmartSuite was created specifically for small-to-mid-sized businesses with their resources and budgets in mind,” said Sarna. “What really excites us is the return on investment our customers will realize with this solution.”
IPsmartSuite is available for numerous verticals, but Embarq has selected health care, legal and retail for its launch. Sarna said those verticals as well as general business are key targets for the telco.