Report from Response Point Training

Report from Response Point Training

I’m writing to you today from a Microsoft Response Point training session. Response Point is a phone system intended for businesses with up to 50 users. Although Microsoft supplies the software, you don’t actually buy a Response Point system from Microsoft. You buy a hardware bundle from one of their authorized manufacturers. Currently, there are only two manufacturers building Response Point hardware: D-Link and Quanta/Syspine. A third (Aastra) is coming into the program next year.

My quick take on the system, based on less than three hours of experience:

  • Compared to what was on the market a few years ago, this looks great. It has a ton of features available that previously cost much more to purchase and configure.
  • Compared to what is on the market today, it looks so-so. There are many, many choices today for small business Voice over IP phone systems. The core feature sets are all pretty much the same. They all give you voicemail, voicemail to e-mail, call transferring, call forwarding, auto-attendant and directory services, ability to use either PSTN (traditional) or VoIP carriers for outside lines, and so forth. Response Point has some neat features that others may not, particularly in the area of voice recognition and Outlook integration, but it also has some limitations. For example, if you are using PSTN lines you are limited to a maximum of 8 concurrent outside calls. Also, if I understood what the instructor was saying correctly, there is only one VoIP carrier for external calls that Response Point supports, and that carrier happens to be Microsoft. Response Point was really designed with analog phone service in mind.
  • Response Point definitely has a "1.0" feel to it. In fact, even though the product was announced almost eight months ago, the first units won’t be shipped to customers until later this month. Some important decisions (like whether there will be an extra charge for future software upgrades) seem not to have been made yet.
  • Although you might expect a Microsoft product designed for small business to have all kinds of integration features with Microsoft Small Business Server, it doesn’t. There is a little administrative plug-in to the SBS management console, but there’s no direct integration between user accounts in SBS and user accounts in Response Point.

In the coming months, you are going to see a LOT of small business IT consultants, contractors, and vendors starting to provide phone system advice and services. My recommendation to a small business today looking for a phone system would be to find a company that has been working with telephony for at least a year or two and is familiar with many if not all of the options out there. If you’re getting advice from someone who’s just gotten into the field, you’ll probably be speaking with someone who’s partnered up with one particular manufacturer and is trying to sell that particular system wherever they can.

I have to advise a client on selecting a phone system this month, and I’m going to be speaking with many, many people before making a recommendation. But I do know one thing: I’m not going to recommend Response Point.

Posted in All, Business, Hardware, Technology, Telephony on Nov 2nd, 2007, 11:18 am by David Schrag   

One Response

  1. July 11th, 2008 | 7:00 am

    […] sixteen months ago. Today — maybe! — it’s worth checking out. As I noted last November, the initial release of Response Point had a very 1.0 feel to it and was lacking many features […]

Leave a reply