A few months ago we told you about Switch, a new, cloud-based phone system from the makers of UberConference. Launched in beta back in September, the product is now becoming generally available for any businesses that would like to sign up.
Switch was built to provide unified text and voice communications to enterprise users across a wide range of devices. It enables a company’s employees to have a single number that would ring on their desk phones, mobile phones, and even on their desktop computers.
It also provides a way for them to send messages, as well as share documents and calendar items, so that users within the same organization can have greater transparency around whether or not someone is online and available.
While providing better communication tools to employees is one benefit, the company hopes to sell businesses on the low price of service and ease of implementation.
Switch costs just $15 per month per employee and offers unlimited calls and texts. Companies can port over their employee’s existing numbers to the system, and for those who need desk phones Switch has partnered with VOIP phone maker Obihai to make them available and easy to install.
On the ease of implementation side, Switch takes the pain out of employee phone provisioning by integrating with Google Apps and tying each number to an employee’s Google account. Administrators are given the ability to easily enable or revoke access, and the entire setup process can be done through drop down menus on the system’s dashboard.
So why would a company trust a startup with one of its most important business assets — i.e., its phone system?
Well, for one thing, the folks behind Switch have a strong legacy in building cloud-based telephony products. Much of the team had been part of Grand Central, which was acquired by Google and became the backbone of Google Voice. The team also built the cloud-based conference call business UberConference, which continues to operate as its own standalone product.
In fact, Switch is betting on converting some large UberConference customers into Switch customers. Nicholas Gardner, who is Weather’s Sr Director of Internal Systems and a happy UberConference customer, is rolling out a trial of Switch’s telephony system to replace an old analog phone system in one of its offices.
Over the last three years, Gardner has been tasked with updating internal employee systems to make them more efficient, and he’s managed to do that mostly by moving its systems into the cloud. That includes adopting Google Apps for all its email, documents, and calendaring functions, and moving from a legacy conference calling service to UberConference.
Updating the phone system is one of the final parts of that initiative, which Gardner told UberConference CEO Craig Walker when he visited Weather last year. “My dream would be to have not a single piece of equipment that says cisco on it,” Gardner said.
Now that Switch has moved beyond the private beta stage and is ready for general deployment, pretty soon he might just have his wish.