An anticipated boom in the uptake of computer telephony, particularly by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) represents a potential goldmine for resellers, claims a new distributor which has sprung up to service the market. According to Mentis managing director Robert Davies, his company has spent the last two years scouring the US market for products best suited to SMEs in Australia. Mentis is now seeking resellers to capitalise on what it believes is a golden opportunity.
"For the smaller to medium system integrator this is a wonderful opportunity," said Davies. "They can walk straight into a market that previously didn't exist. They're not going after existing vendors - these are new opportunities and a new client base."
Davies refused to say what products Mentis would offer resellers, explaining they had yet to receive Austel approval. In fact, it will not publicly announce any products until it has a reseller base to sell and support the products, he said. Mentis is seeking small to medium system integrators that are Microsoft or Novell certified.
Certainly, if analyst group DataQuest is to be believed, computer telephony does represent a massive opportunity.
It predicts the computer telephony (CT) market worldwide will grow by 51 per cent per annum and be worth $8 billion by the year 2000.
Davies predicts that SMEs will opt for the additional capabilities of CT as they replace their ageing PABX systems. This will be especially true of service-oriented industries where staff spend a large proportion of time on the phone or where remote workers don't have data access back to the office network.
For the same amount of money a user pays for a PABX they can instead buy a voice switch. This acts like a standard PABX until the user plugs in a data cable, connecting it to the network. The user can then take advantage of the many computer telephony applications coming onto the market. It is already possible to use the phone to interact with contact managers and schedulers like Microsoft's Outlook as well as retrieving e-mail from products like Exchange.
On top of these capabilities, CT opens up a wealth of call management applications including detailed call auditing and the ability to route calls through the cheapest carrier depending on the time or call destination.
While CT is nothing new, the technology has previously been restricted to large users who have used it in call centres. Davies claims this has been the result of traditional PABX vendors making the technology prohibitively expensive.
He likened the situation to the computer industry when it was ruled by expensive and proprietary mini-computers.