Unison is phase one of Rogers’ plan to make Canadian small businesses a priority


Recently, Rogers announced Unison, a new product which will allow small businesses to use their mobile phone like an office landline. But according to Craig Bentley, Rogers’ senior vice president of small business, the launch of Unison isn’t a one-off effort to cater to SMBs; it’s part of a larger company strategy to reach Canada’s growing startup community.

“Technology is always about timing, and I think if we launched something like this a year or so ago, it wouldn’t be as well received,” said Bentley. “The market is ready for this now, and the more people you talk to, the more they say they don’t know what to do with a landline anyway. I don’t think the technology was there or available for us to bring it to market before now.”

“We want to make a difference. The first and most important step in getting closer to the community is being authentic and trying to add value.”
– Craig Bentley, Rogers SVP of Small Business

Unison, which costs $15 a month, offers features like a fully automated answering system, ‘hunt groups’ that redirect incoming calls between team members, and the ability to appear to have a local presence in multiple regions by adding ‘local’ numbers from multiple regions. The communications and media giant said that a solution like Unison is a first in North America.

“We’ll be launching more products like this,” said Bentley. “It’s a journey to make Rogers the number one tech provider for small businesses over other Telco providers, and the way we want to do that is to provide the right technology.”

Acknowledging the challenge of trying to serve the agile small business community in an effective way, Bentley said that Rogers has made key internal changes to ensure that its strategy goes according to plan. For one, the company created a small business group within its business unit to single out specific needs of the business community, and opened small business centres within its retail stores to better service SMB customers. Before the changes, the needs of small businesses were served alongside the consumer division.

Bentley said that the new focus on small business was a key initiative straight from Rogers CEO Guy Laurence. “The team is bringing in new technologies and the focus to change the Canadian landscape from a Rogers perspective is starting to take hold now. That’s why you see so many products being launched by the business unit at Rogers; it’s all the work that Guy made a strategic priority for businesses, so now all the data efforts are coming to fruition.”

Rogers is also hoping to resonate with the small business community at a grassroots level, with the company launching a speaker series within its business centres addressing topics like building a business brand, and has created an advisory panel of small business owners. “We know we’re in this market for the long haul and we want to make a difference, and we’re trying to find value-add and partners that have a real impact and bring beneficial outcomes to small business,” Bentley said.

“That’s how we’ll all win,” Bentley continued. “I think the first and most important step in getting closer to the community is being authentic and trying to add value.”

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.