Putting a new face on the old office greeting
Despite mid-20th century fears, robots haven’t replaced us all in the workforce. A new IT solution from Fitchburg-based Adesys, however, may just be streamlining the way businesses greet customers and clients when they enter the building.
Many workplaces still employ a traditional receptionist to greet visitors when they enter the building, contact employees to let them know they have a visitor, and generally maintain a welcoming presence to outsiders. While job duties may have been expanded over the years, the receptionist’s primary function is still just to say, “Hello.”
Enter Virtelo, Adesys’ virtual receptionist, which promises to make businesses more efficient and secure.
“The idea of Virtelo came from our own need,” says Jason Adamany, founder and president of Adesys. “We purchased a building and relocated our office in January 2014. We are not a retail establishment so we don’t get walk in traffic, but we do get client visits daily. We needed to secure our office at a higher level than we had at our previous office, but didn’t want to hire a receptionist to watch the front door. This was the start of Virtelo.”
Adamany explains that since Adesys is a technology company, they thought it would be a good use of their resources to design a touchscreen-based receptionist that could be installed in their vestibule to allow visitors and guests to easily contact the person they were there to see without having to use a live receptionist.
Visitors can gain access to the vestibule at the Adesys office, but a second set of doors is security locked 24 hours a day. If the person a guest has come to see is unavailable or if a visitor is unaware of whom they need to see at the company, there is a general “Operator” button that calls a group of people in the office. Virtelo can interface with any phone system or even call a cellphone for each employee on the Virtelo employee directory. The system only needs power and an Internet connection, as well as a wall to attach it.
Adamany says the goal of Virtelo was never to put people out of work so much as it was to make businesses operate more efficiently.
“I have been to enough offices to see a wide range of situations,” Adamany notes. “I have been at offices where there isn’t anyone at a front desk and I need to wait for someone to return from elsewhere in the office. Sometimes there is a bell to ring to get the attention of others in the office. During lunchtime, breaks, or sick time you see other employees covering for the front desk staff. They are unable to effectively do their job because they are covering front desk duties. That is inefficient.”
He also believes Virtelo creates a more secure environment for company employees, as well as customers and clients.
“If office security isn’t on the mind of business owners by now, it should be,” says Adamany. “Through the use of Virtelo, companies can lock their doors to protect their employees and data, but still provide a personal touch to visitors and guests. Many companies already have similar protocols but utilize a cumbersome telephone and employee directory sitting at a front door. This is an awkward solution since it requires visitors to use unfamiliar office phones. Virtelo not only displays the name, position, and department of each employee, but can also display a photo, which makes it quick to locate the employee you have come to visit. Touchscreen technology is very easy to use and intuitive.”
More than just an in-house application
With a positive response to the Virtelo system from its own visitors, Adamany says the crew at Adesys saw an opportunity to take the technology beyond its walls.
Virtelo is already available in Southern Wisconsin and later this year the technology will become available nationally.
The Virtelo hardware package includes a 47-inch HP Touchscreen, mounting hardware, micro PC, attached speakers, and microphone for $3,000. The Virtelo service costs $500 per month. There are no contracts required unless the client wishes to set up the initial hardware investment costs on a one-year lease-to-own financing contract.
Because the system does require installation, an electrician may be needed if a business needs to install a power outlet or network jack at the location of installation. However, Adamany notes Adesys can provide a list of recommended installers if a client needs assistance.
All administrative functions for Virtelo are controlled from a secure Web-based console, says Adamany, including updating the employee directory, names, positions, departments, phone numbers, fonts, colors, and company logos. And Adesys can provide additional customization services to meet more complex requirements.
If there’s one drawback to Virtelo, it’s that the system depends on Internet connectivity. Adamany says with the relatively low cost of business Internet service, Adesys advises clients (even those without Virtelo) to have a redundant Internet connection as a safety net for when Internet service may be disrupted from their primary Internet provider.
As for losing that human connection?
Well, in an age when face-to-face interaction is readily being replaced by FaceTime that might not be as big of a concern as was once thought.
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