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Agency Channel: ASP Menu Offers More Choice

Posted: 11/2000

ASP Menu Offers More Choice
By Tara Seals

As the line between ASP and telecom provider blurs, agents find themselves
with a hybrid: Telecom services to sell in a managed environment. For example,
e-mail is perhaps the most logical product in the telecom arena for managed
service.

Transpoint Communications Inc. (www.transpointcom.com)
a wholly owned subsidiary of Vocal Link Inc. (www.vocallink.com),
formerly CoolEmail.com Inc. until its name change in September, rolled out
unified messaging to agents earlier this year.

Transpoint, an agent vehicle for the deployment of telecom services, offers
"modeless messaging," according to Ralph Metz, Vocal Link’s senior
vice president of sales and marketing. The web-based product gives access to
calls, faxes and e-mails from any number of accounts, and consolidates them.
Clients can pick up and manipulate messages via the Internet, regardless of
medium.

Metz explains Transpoint added a security portion and targets the product to
small and medium-sized businesses.

"This can be their phone and their voice mail system, and it’s very
flexible," he says. "Once a company implements it, it becomes a pretty
sticky application. It’s just so convenient."

Metz says an agent can make commission in a variety of ways. Clients can make
outbound calls from the system, transcribe text to voice and vice versa, perform
conference calls and send faxes. These are all ancillary, commissionable
services.

"I view unified as a next-gen[eration] telecom product rather than a
heavy dot-com product," says Metz. "The existing agents have a great
background and great existing customer bases, and this is just one more new
product that they can leverage."

Similarly, Cupertino, Calif.-based ASP ServiceHub Corp. (www.servicehub.com)
stepped up the national deployment of its wireless Internet application by
launching an agent channel in June.

ServiceHub links dispatchers with remote workers through two-way packet data
or one-way text or numeric paging on mobile devices. Customers include couriers,
field service companies, limousine services, growers and trucking firms. The
company projects the market for its services to be worth more than $1 billion
within two years.

Greenville, S.C.-based PROFITLAB Inc. (www.profit-lab.com),
a telecom billing provider, also is dishing out profit to agents with its
Technology Expense Management Operating System (TEMOS), a web-based application
agents can offer to their customers.

TEMOS collects communications and tech expenses from all billers, and
consolidates them into one database that a client can access securely over the
Internet. Ninety-five percent of the information comes into TEMOS
electronically.

The product maps expenses to the client’s general ledger codes and offers
analysis tools such as vendor and long-distance usage reports, budgeting, and
tracking of budget-to-actual expenditures.

"We feel we’re generating a completely new source of revenue for agents
that are out in the field, having to deal with an eroding marketplace,"
explains K.C. Carter, PROFITLAB’s president. "We’re offering the client the
opportunity to never see another phone bill."

Agents are the primary distribution channel for TEMOS, Carter says. He cites
lower customer acquisition costs and agents’ existing relationships with
customers.

"As there’s a paradigm shift, and margins are getting smaller and
smaller in telecommunications, the TEMOS application positions us so that our
dealers have a tool to get into a whole different field," says Carl
Friedholm, PROFITLAB’s CTO. "They can continue to enjoy the income they’ve
had in the past. It’s a vital key."


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