They talk about usJoined-up thinking: keeping the customer connected at all times

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‘Guest Blog by Justin Hamilton-Martin, Centile Telecom Applications’

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Justin Hamilton-Martin is the UK sales director for Centile, which makes FMC platforms for businesses. He believes that FMC flexibility can go even further than the most popular offerings currently do.

Unlike Vodafone or BT, Centile’s offering is a network-agnostic service for its users, but it uses its relationship with French telco and Mobile Virtual Network Enabler Transatel to
route everyone in a business group through the same network.

This makes Centile’s FMC ‘native’, as it uses the GSM network, as opposed to ‘over-the-top’
(OTT) services which use internet instead of a mobile network and are generally considered less reliable.

Vodafone’s and BT’s services are also native, but require access to their respective networks, unlike Centile.

Availability

On Centile’s system, which is an app and web portal that integrates into a phone’s contacts list, calls can be routed to ‘hunt groups’ of company employees (for example, board members), and different outbound numbers come from individual employees based on their availability, such as an office DDI when available for work, or a mobile number when at home or making a personal call.

This way, the number doesn’t represent the physical device making the call, but a call-line identity (CLI) that signifies what the caller’s status is – however, all calls to go to and from the same device and there is a single voicemail for each employee.

Centile’s system can also automatically enable and disable call recording depending on whether or not the caller’s CLI is work- based or not. Hamilton-Martin says Centile currently has around 50,000 UK customers.

Despite these various offerings, Hatt says that the technology is a “niche area”.

While he recognises that a growth of mobile workers would merit the growth of a unified communications platform, OTT services like Google Hangouts and Skype already provide a similar level of integration.

“It’s more about having a set of credentials for a person that applies across a Skype account and a mobile account and being able to link those – that is certainly becoming more common and that reflects partly the home working trend,” added Hatt.

Opportunity

However, Hamilton-Martin thinks there’s great opportunity for growth: “I think market awareness is still a big issue. If you start dialling from your mobile phone and it presents your office or home number as the outgoing number, that surprises people.

“If I go on holiday, then as soon as I enable that holiday mode or PA mode then that call will first be diverted to go to that PA before it goes to my mobile. That control or capability is not known about by many organisations or individuals in the UK.”

He believes that the UK is only at the start of a growth curve when it comes to FMC adoption; Nordic countries have been much more receptive to FMC, partly through increased cloud adoption. Centile provides its services to 90 per cent of the business customers of Finland’s largest operator, Elisa, including a company with 25,000 members of staff.

At a talk at the BT Tower in November last year, Hamilton-Martin expanded on this: “The fixed-line networks are a bit shaky in those countries, it’s tricky to lay broadband everywhere, so mobile is significant – it’s accelerating growth in this.”

More cloud adoption and 5G availability will drive UK adoption, he believes.

Simplicity

While the underlying technology can be a head-scratcher to understand, it’s the simplicity for the users that makes business FMC so appealing. “It removes the need to deal with multiple suppliers, and from a billing perspective it gives you a single payment at the end of each month for effectively three or more different services,” says Connors.

“There’s also the commercial benefit of having that from a single supplier; it could be more cost-effective for a customer to take that as a single package.”

Hamilton-Martin agrees:  “You get unification of call logging, recording and billing in the same place, a single voicemail, and true visibility of availability. It can be as simple or complicated as the user wants it – that’s the beauty of it, it doesn’t have to be a big complicated system, but it can be very advanced for larger businesses if they want it.

“Even though this is one of the most complex areas of the marketplace, it can really simplify the life of the user. Because at the end of the day, everything is either to save money for the customer by saving time, or help them make more money, and increasing contact-ability does that. That’s what it boils down to.”

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