Google Floats all Boats

Over the past week and a half, Google Voice has prompted an exciting increase in the volume of discussions about Voice 2.0 and the evolution of telephony from a facility based to an Internet based service. This evolution will free millions of businesses from the limited features provided by their local telephone company.

For some background on the impact of Google Voice I recommend reading the excellent posts from Andy Abramson, Wired.com, Gigaom, and Jon Arnold.

Once you have caught up on the industries first reactions think about the following. We are experiencing a dramatic revolution in telecommunications driven by the disaggregation of telecommunications transport from telecommunications features or applications. In the pre-voice 2.0 days, just a few of years ago, a business would call “the telephone company” and lease a telephone line with a set of features. These features might include call waiting, three way calling, voice mail, etc. While you were able to select a long distance carrier that was different from the telephony company providing you with dial tone, to gain access to additional features you had to install a key system or PBX in your business.

Unfortunately the installation of an in house telephone system often locked your business into a fix or very slowly improving set of features. Try upgrading your traditional TDM or POTS based small business key system. It often can’t be done.

Now that many alternatives exist for telephone transport, that is to say, dial tone, a business is no longer limited to the features provided by their dial-tone provider. You might choose to purchase your business lines from AT&T and then use your Google Voice telephone number as your public facing number. When a customer calls, Google will ring both your cell phone and your AT&T landline. In essence you now have three telephone companies. AT&T for outbound calls from your desk, your cell phone carrier for out bound calls from your cell and Google for inbound calls.

This works well since advanced features such as enhanced voice mail and find me are triggered based on an inbound call. The introduction of the trusted and innovative Google brand into the telecommunications landscape will hasten the acceptance of using multiple telephone providers for your business communications needs.

However, Google Voice is just the beginning. Once a business tastes the benefits of enhanced telephone applications they rapidly want more. That’s where companies like Ifbyphone come in. Google has demonstrated proficiency in deploying applications such as search and email where customer service and a consultative relationship are not required. Businesses requiring and willing to pay for a more direct partnership will find the Google approach unacceptable for critical business telephone services. Put more simply, businesses want the ability to pick up their telephone and talk to someone about their telephone application needs.

Additionally, Google Voice is currently limited to a very narrow range of telephone applications. Since Google applications are built for extremely large user communities they leave a wide berth of opportunity for innovative and more narrowly focused organizations.

At Ifbyphone we provide a complete suite of hosted telephone application services focused on the needs of small to medium sized business. We support these services with real people who spend thousands of hours a week consulting with new and existing customers.

While our entry-level services include unified telephone number support and overlap with Google Voice they extend into sophisticated sales, marketing and service delivery solutions. The power of Ifbyphone derives from our instant on-demand IVR services that are available to any web site initiated, in bound or outbound scheduled telephone call. Our customers see our services as toll free and local telephone number call routing, call queuing, interactive voice response, click to call and voice broadcasting.

In conclusion, I believe Google Voice will rapidly become the wave that floats all of the Voice 2.0 boats. While Google does the heavy lifting of educating businesses about the power of utilizing multiple telephone solution vendors for your business, Ifbyphone will focus on the delivery of innovation IVR based solutions that begin where the Google Voice technologies end.