Interactive Intelligence Launches Phone-less IP Phone

The $49 Interaction SIP Station (plus headset) is designed to serve as a simple and affordable alternative to an IP desk phone.

By Jeff Goldman | Posted Nov 25, 2009
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Interactive Intelligence recently introduced the Interaction SIP Station, an endpoint device that’s designed as a simple and affordable alternative to an IP desk phone. The SIP Station, which lacks a display or dial pad, works in conjunction with a headset and the company’s Interactive Intelligence Interaction Client on a PC.

Company product manager Peter Nees says the idea for the SIP Station came in response to customer requests. "Our customers just love our desktop call control client… and they started asking the question, ‘Why do I need all these buttons and functionality in the phone, when I’ve got it all on the client?... All I need that telephone endpoint to do is just to be reliable, affordable, and simple,’" he says.

At the same time, Nees says, many hardware vendors are adding more and more functionality to those endpoints, making them increasingly complex. "They see what the iPhone is doing… and they’re trying to do the same thing for corporations and their desktop phones, adding LCD screens, increasing the size of those LCD screens, adding touchscreen capabilities, and adding a lot of software functionality," he says.

That really only makes sense, Nees says, if the user doesn’t have a PC sitting next to that phone. "But where we play, largely, just about everybody’s going to have a PC… so why have another device sitting right next to it that looks about the same size as your laptop in some cases, and has another LCD screen, when you can take advantage of the investment that you’ve already made?" he says.

Instead, Nees says, there’s a real need in the marketplace for simplicity. "One of our customers, a Fortune 500 company, they purchased a number of $600, $700 IP phones about two years ago," he says. "Well, they moved onto our platform, and they’re still using those phones, but users were hitting Transfer, hitting Conference, still trying to use a lot of the buttons that are on that phone, and they got so tired of trying to train people not to use them… that they ended up taking an 8½" x 11" blank piece of paper and taping it over the phone and the buttons, so you could pick up the handset, and that’s all you could do."

The Interaction SIP Station is designed to provide that kind of simplicity, with some added benefits—including a physical mute button, volume control, pick up and disconnect, and speed dial. "If your PC is unavailable and you need to make a 911 call, or call your supervisor or IT help desk, you have a speed dial button that you can configure to a specific number and be able to still place a call out," Nees says.

And the fact that the SIP Station uses Power over Ethernet, Nees says, is a key strength. "If you lose power at the desk, at the workstation, it’s going to be backed up at the switch using PoE—so your PC might lose power… but your phone, your SIP Station, will stay connected and stay with the call, and you’ll even be able to place an emergency call if necessary if your PC is down," he says.

At 4½" x 4½" x 1½" and with an MSRP of $49, Nees says, the device is both small and affordable. "I’ve got eight beta customers right now… and the feedback has been fantastic," he says. "They like the look of it, they like how it takes up less desk space… and the functionality is where they need it," he says.

And while the SIP Station is primarily targeted at call centers, Nees says it can also be a good fit for enterprise users. "Say a new customer has 5,000 users, and it’s a mix: maybe 3,000 of them are enterprise users and 2,000 of them are contact center," he says. "Of those 3,000 enterprise users, maybe a handful of them would adopt the SIP Station, but let’s be honest: a lot of them are still going to want that IP phone with the dial pad and some other functionality—and that’s okay. Those 2,000 users that are in that contact center are going to likely go with the SIP Station… and it saves them on the overall purchase price."

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