M5 Networks: Reinventing Telephony With the Cloud
Back in December 2009, I reported on enterprise VoIP services provider M5 Networks and their push to build smarter phone systems for SMBs. Now, fast forward to the present: I had the chance to catch up with M5 Networks CEO Dan Hoffman (pictured) on where the company’s going, how the cloud is helping them get there, and how the Apple iPad fits into their vision for enterprise telephony. Here’s the scoop.
Hoffman says the PBX, the heart of the modern telephone system, is outdated at best and “broken” at worst. The core PBX technology has been in use for as long as companies have kept switchboards on-premises, and new features have been limited to whatever can be “bolted on” to it. But now, Hoffman says, the power of the cloud presents an opportunity to build something new – maybe something a little more intelligent.
A smart system, Hoffman says, doesn’t care about endpoints. Unlike a PBX, M5 Networks’ VoIP solution allows mobile devices to be put on an enterprise’s phone system. That’s a boon as Hoffman estimates that 30% of all business calls are now made on smartphones of one kind or another, and now administrators can manage them like anything else on their switchboard.
To drive that point home, Hoffman showed me the M5 Networks iPad app, currently in beta with no formal release date set as of yet. It worked, and worked well, as he was able to receive a call, seamlessly switch it over to his desk phone and back, and even dial me back. As far as M5’s cloud-powered phone system was concerned, Hoffman’s iPad was as much a phone as what was sitting on his desk.
M5 Networks isn’t the only one taking this approach to reinventing the phone system, but Hoffman says their differentiation is their focus on the entrepreneurial and midsize business markets who want to “buy, not build” a smart, cheap phone system out of the box.
Hoffman says M5 Networks is growing across the board, and they’re focusing their efforts on building customer satisfaction and keeping that momentum going.
“We’re trying to be great in this niche,” Hoffman says.
If you’re not sold on VoIP in the enterprise space, I doubt M5 Networks’ success is going to sway you. But if, like me, you’re a believer in the power of telephony-as-a-service, the idea of a smarter switchboard should have you intrigued.