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    5 Replies Latest reply on Jul 25, 2008 11:05 AM by Iwrite

    I’m looking to pick your brain, not your wallet.

    OpenBook Newbie
      That’s right I am only interested in your brain, honest.

      My company is in the final phases of developing a product that provides
      PBX and email capability for small businesses, such as small office/home office (SOHO) of
      less than 10 people. We are designing it to be flexible, scalable, and affordable.

      The problem is or at least my marketing person believes the problem is that we may be operating in a vacuum.

      We need to find out:

      • If small business owners understand what this system can do for their business?
      • What features they feel will be most beneficial to their business?
      • How much of a need do they have for a system like this?
      • Are owners looking for a system to complement their marketing and communications strategy?
      • Will they feel comfortable managing the system after initial configuration and installation?

      Quite simply, this system provides a communications infrastructure that gives small business owners
      a "big boy" system that can facilitate the ability to route customers through features, such as call routing, call waiting, forwarding, transfer, and parking calls for the appropriate information, resource, or staff member whether they are on-site or off-site. The email infrastructure supports branding and loyalty programs for existing and new customers through mailing lists.

      We would really appreciate your feedbacks and comments. Thanks.
        • Re: I’m looking to pick your brain, not your wallet.
          MnlyTechnlgy Adventurer
          OpenBook: Interesting concept you've presented. As a small business owner myself (2 full-time, 1 pt time staff) I would not find this as a "must have" for my business. The demographic and geographic area which we serve does not warrant the need for this type of system, however I believe this is strictly industry driven. If someone is in the manufacturing industry, would it be safe to assume they would be running with less than 10 employees or out of their home? Maybe yes, maybe no .. again, I think it truly will depend on the geographic and demographic area which they serve. I do not think that people who operate a home office would or could benefit from a system such as this. It would be safe to assume that if their business has a website, they have e-mail and other functions attached to the functionality of the website to bypass the need for your services.

          Again ... I think it would benefit you greatly to do a market analysis which includes demographics in specific geographic locations and make your decisions from there. It would seem to be a viable product for a small business with off-site locations from a base office.

          That's my 2 cents worth as a small business owner ...

          Deb L
          Mainely Technology
            • Re: I’m looking to pick your brain, not your wallet.
              OpenBook Newbie

              I have pondered your response to the post and I think that I should have added a little more information for the dialogue. As a web development company, I am quite sure that you may have some customers that control their technical assets, such as servers, workstations, business specific applications, and phone system. Some of these businesses that are traditional brick and mortar may have knowledge workers that could perform tasks on their behalf outside of the "main" office.

              The product is intended to extend the framework of communications that would allow employees to be satellite locations and access the phone system and email through collaboration. I think that these types of companies may be more ideal than a SOHO unless they are working on a project. Maybe SMBs a little larger would be better. Do you think this could be helpful to that type of business?

              In small business environments, owners wear many hats and communications with our customers is a must, particularly marketing. In the current economic environment, retention of customers is going to be more important as we ride out the economic life cycle. If they don't walk in the door or drive by your location, then what is making them think about you? One more sale or positive referral could mean gas cards for the employees as an incentive. I know that everyone who passes by is not intended for your business, but what about those that could benefit from a loyalty or branding intiative through email or telemarketing. Do folks have the plan and the tools to get the job done expeditiously? The product is intended to help that effort.

            • Re: I’m looking to pick your brain, not your wallet.
              A_Ellicott Adventurer
              My firm has two full-time and two part-time employees. Honestly, I only have a vague notion of what you are talking about and no clue how it could help me.

              Actually, between cell phones and email, I find myself using the regular phone lines less and less these days. As far as giving small businesses a "big boy" system; you might consider that one thing many small businesses use to distinguish themselves from larger competitors is personal service. If your system enhances that, great. If it's nothing more than affordable, "press one to continue in English" phone-tree hell, forget it.
                • Re: I’m looking to pick your brain, not your wallet.
                  OpenBook Newbie

                  Thank you for your feedback. As an engineer, I would guess that most of your work is project oriented and that you may have a certain number of contracts and clients that you perform for on an annual basis. Sometimes, you may even partner with another firm on a project as well, which could lead to a lot of off-site work and travel depending on your area of engineering.

                  When your staff is at the project site instead of the office, do they have to call the main office to get voicemails or are staff members equipped with a company provided cell phone and laptop with broadband access? If so, then I think that there may be an opportunity for a product that affords the flexibility to communicate remotely, which has the ability to connect employees to the main system at your office.

                  Last, if the average commute of the staff members is at least 20 miles per way to the office, then there could be a possible benefit of quality of life for employees by reducing commute time and savings on gas. Of course this would be viable if your staff could perform the majority of their tasks away from the office. It would be difficult if they need direct access to tools, such as CAD and other engineering specific applications and the proper infrastructure was not in place. Could a larger firm benefit if these requirements are out of scope?

                    • Re: I’m looking to pick your brain, not your wallet.
                      Iwrite Pioneer

                      I think you have gotten some great feedback. They are telling you to look at the message you are communicating and the target you are aiming at. Somewhere in your description the real benefit is lost - folks aren't hearing what it is your product will really do for them. What is the quick and easy benefit? If I understand your product right, they may not even perceive they have a problem.


                      Why would they need your product? And how can it help their business?

                      Just my impression, I could be wrong and your message is clear.