Partnership Voice-Enables On-Demand Business Apps

VoIP helps make calling an integral part of business processes.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Nov 3, 2005
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Imagine being able to click any phone number appearing on your computer screen to place a call. Imagine doing this in the context of a business application. That scenario has just become a reality, with the announcement, this week of Click-to-Call, a joint venture of NetSuite Inc. and Five9, Inc., two California-based providers of on-demand applications services.

NetSuite, which began its life as a vendor of outsourced, web-based accounting for SMBs, has grown into a titan of integrated enterprise business applications services including CRM, ERP, and e-commerce. Check their website for details on the dizzying array of specific business processes that NetSuite can provide without your having to invest in buying, installing, and maintaining software and servers, or paying IT support staff.

Five9, similarly enables companies to support outgoing telemarketing operations, or incoming call center/customer support operations without the need to purchase (typically very costly) software, switches, and servers—or pay for long-distance phone usage.

In both cases, all a customer needs to be able to utilize the offered services is a PC and broadband Internet access.

"The big idea behind NetSuite is that an integrated business application makes companies more productive at a much lower cost than traditional patchwork application environments. Our partnership with Five9 takes this a step further by seamlessly integrating low-cost VoIP telephony for our customers," said NetSuite CEO, Zach Nelson.

How it works
According to Cary Fulbright, Five9 vice president of marketing, "Click-to-Call will actually work with any phone. If you're using VoIP, then we're actually provisioning an extension for you. But if you don't want to go buy USB headsets for your people, you can use the phones you've got now."

In the VoIP case, the user click of an on-screen number sends an IP-based message to Five9's servers, which then place a conventional (PSTN) call to the intended recipient. The call then runs as VoIP between the placer of the call and the Five9 equipment, conventional between the equipment and the call recipient.

Where customers choose to rely on their existing phone system, the click-generated message to the server results in simultaneous calls to the desk phone of the initiator and to the recipient's phone. " The down side of that is you're effectively paying for two phone calls," Fulbright told VoIPplanet.com "Still, at very low rates," he hastened to add. "Our rates are 1.9 cents a minute including all taxes and tariffs." "The advantage of using the USB headset is you're saving money, and you're generally getting better voice quality," he concluded.

On-demand
According to Mini Peiris, senior director of product management at NetSuite, Click-to-Call is really the result of customer demand. "The reason we did it is we have several joint customers with Five9 already—and more that ask us for having easier dialing capabilities within NetSuite, so that's what prompted us to go into the partnership with them," Peiris told VoIPplanet.com.

Once the idea took hold, according to Peiris, the project went quickly, taking only two to three months of joint work to achieve the integration. Currently, Click-to-call "facilitates outbound dialing," Peiris said, adding that "eventually we'll have inbound screen pop capabilities as well."

"The way we're integrating with [Five9] is through our web services platform," Pieris explained. "Our calls to them are all through that interface—which is part of NetFlex, which we announced at the start of this year. It's just a standard SOAP-based call for us."

Combining strengths
Click-to-Call truly is a joint venture. To take advantage of the option, one must be a customer of both NetSuite and Five9, Peiris explained. "In other words, you would sign up for us, and you would also sign up for the Five9 service," she said.

"I guess one reason Five9 was interested in partnering with us on this is because we have such a full offering," Peiris told VoIPplanet.com. "Traditional IT people think of telephony for CRM applications, but it's valuable even for back-office activities. For example customers that are doing collection calls—you know the finance department typically handles those—but they have a need to be able to quickly run through a call list and just dial through," Pieris pointed out.

Peiris says customer uptake has been 'great.' "It has generated even more interest than we'd anticipated," she said.

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