On 3 April, Cisco launched the Smart Business Communication System.
According to Cisco, the simple, complete and highly secure Smart Business Communications System helps enable anytime anywhere access to information and provides efficient methods of communicating with customers and employees to help improve service and increase business agility. The system employs new hardware products, integrated unified communications applications and system-management tools designed to complement each other and provide communication building blocks for small businesses.
The system is comprised of:
– Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series (connects Cisco phones, internet connectivity, wireless LAN and VPN)
– Cisco CatalystÆ Express 520 (a power over LAN switch)
– Cisco Mobility Express Solution: Cisco 521 Wireless Express Access Point and Cisco 526 Wireless Express Mobility Controller
– Cisco Configuration Assistant (system management tools)
– Cisco Monitor Director (this is a centralized proactive solutions-management tool for Cisco channel partners to offer multicustomer outsourced 24-hour network management services)
The Cisco Smart Business Communications System integrates with existing desktop applications such as calendaring, e-mail, customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) to help improve customer service and business agility, which are hallmarks of competitive differentiation for SMBs.
Partners, as always, are a key part of Cisco’s new offering. They will not only be implementing this new system at customer sites, but also writing applications to operate on top of Cisco’s platform.
While Cisco is a leading provider of hardware, one of the key messages of this announcement is that the Smart Business Communications System is a platform, intended to deliver “smart” applications for SBCS.
For example, IPcelerate’s , is the first to offer customized business productivity applications for the Smart Business Communication System. IPcelerates, IPsmartsuite solutions provides a packaged suite of cost-effective, time-saving business-productivity applications that are vertically focused for healthcare, legal, retail and manufacturing office environments. The customized applications help enable users to take advantage of features such as time, task, and staff management alerts, client-appointment management, and user-profile-defined displays.
Cisco Smart Business Communications System is scheduled to be available to partners through standard Cisco worldwide channels in June 2007. The U.S. list price for the system will start at $699 per seat, which includes the network with complete Cisco Unified Communications system capabilities and a Cisco Unified IP Phone. The U.S. list price for the Cisco Catalyst Express 520 is $1395. The U.S. list price of the Cisco 521 Wireless Express Access Point is $499 and the U.S. list price for the Cisco 526 Wireless Express Mobility Controller is $1799. The U.S. list price for the Cisco Monitor Director and Cisco Monitor Manager limited startup package is $2,900.
What does all of this mean to you?
Your choices for telephony features are wonderful. If you are looking for something to install on your own, with minimal cost and a good, but basic set of features, Cisco’s system is not for you. Go for Bizfon, Talkswitch or some other similar type of system.
If you are looking for a phone system to GROW with your businesses and that will bring an integrated approach to your communication needs (inside and outside the office) Cisco’s Smart Business Communication System is a viable choice.
Cisco’s competitors in this field include systems from Avaya, Nortel, Altigen, Fonality and others.
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