Remote VoIP is a communications WorldWinner

VoIP and application integration helped one company bring IP communications to its remote workers.

VoIP can get tricky when it comes to remote workers. Some choose to go the Skype route, others just rely on cell phones or their home phones for communications.

But WorldWinner, a Newton, Mass.-based online game and competition service and a subsidiary of FUN Technologies Inc., needed to get VoIP and collaborative abilities to its ever-expanding remote employee base, which is scattered across the country.

From teleworkers to traveling employees, WorldWinner was in need of an economical yet flexible solution with little management overhead. And, according to WorldWinner vice president of operations Mike Frank, the company's IP solution had to integrate with its commonly used desktop business applications to improve productivity and efficiency. Essentially, a softphone option would let end users manage and control calls from their PCs regardless of location, creating seamless access to the corporate voice services at company headquarters.

"We needed a fast solution for our smaller offices and remote workers," Frank said.

In the past, remote workers relied on cell phones, but spotty coverage made that option unacceptable, especially when communication is a vital part of business.

"Communication is of the essence, and timing is of the essence," Frank said. "We don't have the luxury of waiting around for someone to have service."

WorldWinner hosts online competitions for popular games, among them Solitaire and Scrabble, in which players compete for cash and other prizes. The company has more than 30 million global players and hosts 20 million tournaments per month. To keep up with that pace, Frank realised, WorldWinner needed communications that were beyond the scope of a traditional PBX.

WorldWinner had a 3Com installation that was suitable for headquarters, Frank said, but it would require too much management to be viable in remote office locations.

"Moving 3Com into a smaller user base wouldn't have been cost effective for us," he said.

WorldWinner also evaluated remote VoIP solutions from Cisco and Shoretel but worried that those solutions would require too much on-site management, Frank said. With limited IT staff in each remote location, that could prove troublesome.

Instead, Frank went with BlueNote SessionSuite. He said scalability and richness of features played a strong role in the decision. Another factor, he said, was that SessionSuite uses SIP, which allows WorldWinner to choose from a variety of SIP phones for employees to use as their office desk phones.

"We needed an efficient and cost-effective answer to connect our distributed workers to the voice and data applications that are key to running our business," Frank said.

BlueNote software runs on industry-standard servers and was quick to install, he said. And the desktop application integration, coupled with leveraging both WorldWinner's existing infrastructure and the Internet, freed up resources, allowing the company to concentrate more on core business needs than deploying and managing a complicated VoIP system.

Sally Bament, vice president of marketing and product management for BlueNote, said the SessionSuite family uses real-time interactive communications and integrates them with business applications and processes. It comprises an open, modular software architecture that can be incrementally deployed alongside existing PBX systems.

SessionSuite offered key features that Frank was looking for in order to connect the distributed workforce -- softphone capabilities, three- and four-digit dialing from any location, and simple administration.

So far, he said, the ability to reach workers in remote locations has improved dramatically, and the ability to spark an impromptu conference call has come in clutch when problems arise.

"Our time to resolution for any topic that might come up in a pinch has improved greatly," Frank said. "We can now get an immediate response."

Read about improving VoIP applications

Learn how the VoIP market is evolving

Read more on Voice networking and VoIP