Grown-Up VoIP for the Fortune 500,000

By Ted Stevenson | Jun 30, 2006 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/Grown-Up-VoIP-for-the-Fortune-500000-3617636.htm

Ten-year-old ShoreTel, Inc. is the hottest VoIP infrastructure provider on the block. Lyrio, a newly formed value-added-reseller, based in Philadelphia and New York, is not only building its business around ShoreTel's award-winning equipment, it also embracing that company's passion for exemplary customer service.

As Chief Marketing Officer Paul Sewards put it, ShoreTel has "tremendous traction" in the industry today. Indeed it has achieved a roughly 90 percent growth rate over recent years, an almost unheard-of figure. One reason for this is that the sophisticated telephony system has a fully distributed architecture, so it provides the same features and functionality no matter what the scale of the deployment.

"There's a sense of democracy, that finally there's an opportunity for the SMB market to have access to all the bells and whistles—the applications—that the largest companies have normally only had access to," Sewards told VoIPplnet.com. "That finally there is kind of a tipping point that is being reached, within both technological development and price points."

The fact that the SMB community has to some extent been locked out of the market for "industrial strength" VoIP creates what Lyrio sees as a huge opportunity for them. "SMBs, of course, are the largest chunk of business to go after" Sewards said candidly. "Our deliberate strategy is to really, finally offer award-winning solutions to the Fortune 500,000."

"We're very passionate about trying to be the advocate for the SMB sector," Sewards said. "You can't do that if you're a direct manufacturer. Which is why our brand has ambitions to shift into the solutions mode for the whole of the SMB market."

Lyrio has done long and careful research before settling on ShoreTel as a partner, talking to large numbers of potential customers—many of whom are doing direct comparisons with Avaya, Cisco, and Nortel solutions—and carefully listening to their feedback.

While ShoreTel's infrastructure is the foundation of Lyrio's offering, it doesn't stop there. Lyrio is building a brand, based on the value it will add to the mix. The company's "solutions application strategy" involves creating a number of applications (which they're not yet discussing in detail) that can be customized for individual clients—even collaboration with specific customers to create one-off applications. "Application development, for us, is something that is really significant in the longer term growth." Sewards told VoIPplanet.

That's all part of serving customers really well. "The Lyrio difference is that we're not just delivering a high-quality product but we are building a brand that is highly focused on client satisfaction," says Paul Sewards. "We want to capture and understand the end user better than other resellers or manufacturers have." To that end, Lyrio has commissioned a research study on the real usage of existing communication devices in the workplace. The company expects to release the findings soon.

As of launch, Lyrio is primarily serving customers in the Eastern corridor. Although it is laying the groundwork for an expansion to the West Coast, the company will be focusing on the New York/Philadelphia axis for the foreseeable future.