In the beginning was the telephone: when the Munich start-up C4B Com For Business entered the market with its CTI tool XPhone™ in 1999, telephony integration was still in its infancy. Since then the demands on an innovative communications solution have grown year after year: from groupware integration through the connection of fax, voicemail and SMS to presence management, collaboration and mobile clients. The next step? Seamless integration: IT and communications are one.
Dissatisfaction as a driver of innovation: when five employees at solution provider Dionex Softron set out to develop a communications tool for their own Siemens telephone system in 1999, none of the five suspect they are laying the foundation for their own software company. "For us, it was never about developing a new product or even bringing it to market," says C4B CEO Michael Schreier looking back. "We were simply dissatisfied with the manufacturer's CTI client. For us it was clear: 'It can be done better!'". No sooner said than done: the proprietary CTI tool receives a very favourable response within the company and slowly the idea takes shape of marketing the tool as their own product – XPhone is born. Shortly after the five colleagues found their own company: C4B Com For Business AG.
Since the company was established 15 years ago, the market has fundamentally changed: Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) becomes Unified Communications (UC), which in turn soon grows by the factor of Collaboration. XPhone grows too: today the C4B solution is much more than a CTI tool: it bundles all communication channels such as landlines, mobile phones, fax, voicemail, text messaging and instant messaging, augments them with presence information and allows deep integration in applications and business processes.
The company itself also changes substantially in this period: the literal garage start-up records continuous growth – both in sales as well as in terms of the number of employees, distributors and partners. Thus since 2009 alone the number of C4B partners has quintupled. With well over a million installed XPhone licences and nearly 50 employees, C4B is now one of the leading manufacturers of CTI and Unified Communications software.
And the journey continues. Schreier sees the seamless integration of all communication channels in the central business applications as a key requirement of the future: "Far too many companies still treat the telecommunications world as an island. And yet communication is a key component of all business processes." The integration of all communication channels in ERP, CRM & Co. offers companies the opportunity to substantially streamline their processes. Thanks to the intelligent integration of IT and UC solution, employees can, for example, view all the relevant information stored in applications such as SAP or Salesforce on the first ring already.
C4B is currently developing the fifth generation of XPhone. As it does, the focus on the user and his communication needs – in the office as well as on the go – is becoming even greater. The motivation is still just the same as it was 15 years ago, says Schreier: "Ultimately you can also make a very good product even better."