VoSKY Exchange Adds Click-to-Call, F/MC to its Bag of Tricks

By Ted Stevenson | May 21, 2008 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/VoSKY-Exchange-Adds-Click-to-Call-FMC-to-its-Bag-of-Tricks-3748411.htm

In 2007, VoIPplanet.com introduced the VoSKY Exchange gateway to its readers and reported on its certification and co-branding by Skype.

Today, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based VoSKY is announcing a new feature: click-to-call (C2C) capability, wherein a link on a website will place a call to a live agent via the company's VoSKY Exchange gateway.

As VoSKY director of product management David Tang put it in a recent briefing, "It allows a business to integrate a website—which is their storefront to the world—to connect back to their phone system, their PBX.

In reality, Tang told VoIPplanet.com VoSKY introduced a partial implementation of the C2C feature earlier this year, wherein the web link connected Skype callers to the PBX.

Today's announcement is about a new wrinkle—Click-to-Call-Back—that lets all callers reach an agent: In a manner similar to some other web-based VoIP call services, this latest technology prompts non-Skype users to enter a number, whereupon VoSKY Exchange completes the transaction by calling that phone using SkypeOut.

"This helps companies monetize their website—doing e-commerce," Tang commented. "Customers online can now click a button and connect to someone live. It's offering that real-time communication with the click of a button."

In today's press release, VoSKY refers to a Jupiter Research study that found C2C services can reduce website abandonment rates by 22 to 25 percent, reduce shopping cart abandonment but as much as 50 percent, and, overall, increase online revenues by up to 45 percent.

Also new to VoIPplanet.com (though not strictly new, rather introduced earlier this year) are the "appliance" versions of VoSKY Exchange—the Exchange Pro VIS8 and VIO8 units that combine 8-port FSX and FSO gateway capabilities with the Skype application in a single rack-mounted box. (Earlier gateway models required a separate server running the Skype app.)

The Exchange Pro models, according to Tang, simplify the deployment of VoSKY systems, and have boosted sales worldwide. "For a VAR, it's one unit, easier to manage, one point of control in management. They don't have to deal with separate gateway and server to manage that," he said.

Another Web 2.0-style development Tang filled us in on is Skype-based fixed/mobile convergence (F/MC).

"This is an application we've been positioning especially in Europe, where Skype recently launched the 3 Skypephone—a 3G phone with the Skype client integrated into it—with a Skype button on it," Tang told VoIPplanet.com.

"This is a solution where we integrate that phone back to the VoSKY Exchange at your office as a fixed/mobile convergence solution." Then, anyone in the company can reach a 3 Skypephone user (for free) using a speed dial set up on the Exchange.

Likewise, pushing the Skype button on the phone connects the caller with the VoSKY Exchange, whereupon the caller can dial the VoSKY extension of whoever s/he wants to talk to. SkypeOut calls via 3G are another inexpensive alternative to more traditional international calling methods.

The F/MC feature also works with Skype-enabled PDAs, Tang said.

One further significant development is that, via VoSKY Exchange, Skype can now be harnessed for call center duty. According to Tang, VoSKY "did some integration with Altigen Communications's PBX earlier this year," resulting in a feature it is calling 'Extension Anywhere' that takes advantage of Altigen's 'Application Anywhere' capability.

"We're now enabling remote agents to use Skype as the audio path," Tang said, as well as to "leverage the Skype client as a softphone."

With the VoSKY/Altigen pairing, calls are routed from Altigen's IP PBX to remote agents via Skype, regardless of whereabouts. "When you call in using the Skype client, it authenticates onto the Altigen," Tang explained, "and you can make incoming call, outgoing calls as if you were sitting behind the PBX, but you are remote on Skype."

In the 12 months or so since VoIPplanet had spoken to folks at VoSKY, the company has built what appears to be a formidable distribution channel, with major channel partners on every continent and region.

Retail (official) pricing for VoSKY's gateways and appliances run from $1,250 for the 9040 4-port, gateway-only model to $5,000 for the 8-port Exchange Pro VSO8 unit.