Tag Archives: VoIP

A Small Business Trinity?


brockmann-skypegooglesfdcGoogle Adwords, Skype and Salesforce.com are a potent collaboration of three market leaders. Powerfully, all three have direct to user sales models and deliver self-administered services. All three dominate the small business sectors, or are on their way to dominate.

Skype and Salesforce.com enabled a collaboration earlier in May 2007, where users of Salesforce.com could click on a user contact and their Skype client would begin dialing, or when finished with a SkypeOut can have the client's record popup so that the record of the call can be attached. This simple integration improves the productivity of Salesforce.com users, who otherwise have to cut and paste, or retype the phone number of the user.

The integration also enables screen pops, so that when so-and-so client calls on the SkypeIn, the context of the contact record appears in the browser. 

The recently announced Adwords and Salesforce.com collaboration is a backoffice integration that simplifies the marketer's job by allowing a responder to a search advertisement to complete a request for followup to be automatically entered as a 'LEAD' in the Salesforce.com system. But Salesforce.com allows the Adword program attributes – campaign, keyword, ad – to follow through the sales cycle – pipeline, forecast and results, and allows the marketer to adjust their keywords, campaigns as feedback from the complete sales cycle drives the search engine advertising input to the model.

Brilliant in design. However, there are challenges. Salesforce.com is notoriously slow, and at times cumbersome. I know, I've been a user of their service and other people's products in previous lives.

Skype and Enterprise

I got an email from Paul Sagoo, the Global Business Director of Skype Enterprise Solutions today. They're looking for companies to participate in an early adopter program. To participate, the Early Adopters need to be companies with over 1000 employees already using Skype or looking to implement Skype in the future.

Key features promised in the Enterprise version include:

  • enterprise network compatibility (what does this mean?)
  • Company-owned Skype Name creation – this must mean the company owns the corporate directory model
  • Customizable (what does this mean?)
  • Direct technical support from Skype
  • Ongoing upgrades maintenance


Let me know if you'd like participate and I can send you their communication requirements. 

This is a little unorthodox in the method for finding lead enterprise customers. I'd have thought that Skype would look to natural partners – eBay corporate, PayPal or some friendly enterprise to work through the value proposition and feature requirements. Maybe Skype should implement a direct sales force (or have they?) to approach target customers directly. 

Comparing Softphones to IP phones

At VoiceCon, Microsoft made much noise about how the softphone delivered better audio quality than a leading IP phone. (see my posts: Microsoft – where do your get this stuff? and Psytechnics Gets a Microsoft Moment )

At first it sounds impressive – especially considering the history of Windows. I remember in 1998 getting all excited about the prospects of Nortel doing a deal with Vocaltec, the Israeli company that was the first with a Windows softphone, but then having experienced it, I acknowledged that the OS had several flaws.

Windows 95, 98 and probably Millenium, were all single threaded. That means, that any real-time process underway, occupied the machine completely. Any intermittent process, like a clock update, or an email server update simply seized control of the processor, did its thing, and then dropped the user back into the real-time process then underway. This might work if I was editing an email since the interrupt was only about 500 milliseconds long. However, in an audio conversation, a random 0.5 seconds of zero speech processing can destroy the context for the user, and of course destroy the experience of the user.

It could literally eliminate answers like, 'no' which only take ~ 400 milliseconds to speak.

However, Windows today, with the fast processors of today, with the massive memory of today have no trouble with this challenge (thank God) and the Psytechnics test proves it. In the test, results available at www.psytechnics.com, a Microsoft Windows and Office client with a USB phone are contrasted with the Cisco 7961 IP phone. The comparisons show that the MSFT device supports Wideband and Narrowband operation, while the Cisco phone supports G.711 and G.729.

Does this show that MSFT doesn't support the ITU's codec and won't be able to interoperate with other gateways and applications?

Also, the confidence intervals of each of the samples contrasting the narrowband and the G.711 may suggest that the gap is pretty small. For example, at IP Condition 1 (no other apps running on the LAN), the MSFT setup generates a MOS (Mean Opinion Score) of 3.51 and a confidence interval of 0.11. In contrast, the Cisco phone, at IP Condition 1, using the G.711 codec generated a MOS mean of 3.41 and a confidence interval of 0.11. So, although the MSFT setup does have an higher score here, it isn't much of a higher score.

So, this is a test of the performance of two codecs – one using ITU codec standards and the other a proprietary MSFT implementation. Was that the real goal of the test?

Maybe MSFT should present its IPR to the ITU to imbed it into the next codec standard? How about it, Jeff? 




Microsoft – where do you get this stuff?

Just by lustening to Jeff Raikes, you'd think that Microsoft invented the software-based enterprise telephony system (we used to call these things the IP PBX). I know they made a big splash at VoiceCon, and that Jeff delivered a terrific keynote (I wasn't in the room, so this is secondhand), and that the fine folks of Psytechnics provided the evidence that PC-based softphones deliver better audio quality than IP phones. (I did write about this).

As I have been gradually cleaning up my inbox and my new desk by sorting through the myriad of goodies collected from VoiceCon, the Microsoft press release bubbled to the surface and as I pondered its disposition I became enthralled with the language and rhetoric.

MSFT to deliver enhanced VoIP solutions, lead unified communications shift to software… trumpetted the headlines (March 7, 2007). Give me a break. There is nothing enhanced about their offer. There is no leadership position for them here. Why? because the industry is already been on this movement for nearly a decade. The transition to software is already well underway, silly!

This is like SaraLee discovering Splenda.



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