Unifying voice, video, wireless, presence and other communications technologies, results in rapid communication and improved employee productivity. Unifying and integrating all the various corporate communications types also provide management a holistic overview of the entire corporate communications infrastructure with unified reporting that provides insights into your business communications. We have a variety of different types of innovative winners, including a virtualized IP-PBX, a mobile UC application for the iPhone, a hosted SaaS videoconferencing solution, and a headset gadget that connects to both your PC and office phone headset. This year marks the 12th annual TMC (News - Alert) Labs Innovation Awards where we honor products and services that have unique and innovative features that often differentiate them from their competitors.
Virtualized NetVanta Unified Communications (UC) solution
Fonality Heads-Up-Display Mobile
High Speed Video
Presence Technology LLC
Presence Hosted Contact Center Suite
Toshiba America Information Systems
ADTRAN Inc.Virtualized NetVanta Unified Communications (UC) Solution http://www.adtran.com
ADTRAN’s NetVanta Unified Communications (UC) Solution Suite has been making continued innovations. One of the latest innovations is that NetVanta UC can be deployed in virtual environments utilizing VMware. One core innovative feature is administrative integration with Microsoft Active Directory, allowing IT administrators to manage the entire communications system using the same user accounts and security policies, thereby reducing TCO.
NetVanta’s capabilities include voice mail, unified messaging, fax server, and auto attendant, firewall/VPN, interoperability with legacy equipment, and features that enhance communications-enabled business processes. NetVanta UC solutions scale from five to more than 2,000 users per server. If NetVanta UC is used to provide hosted services, the NetVanta UC application is installed on a VM server, and there is no additional equipment required at the customer location.
ADTRAN tells TMC Labs, “ADTRAN’s Virtualized NetVanta UC solution addresses a segment of the market that found it cost-prohibitive to implement unified communications. The Virtualized NetVanta UC solution allows businesses to take advantage of unified communications services and better equips channel partners and service providers to offer NetVanta UC as a hosted service, thus extending the use of NetVanta UC even further in the market.”
NetVanta UC Server is capable of supporting unified communications on one or more different types of PBXs from most manufacturers, including ADTRAN, Avaya, Nortel, Cisco, Mitel, NEC, and Siemens to provide a centralized UC solution.
Digium Inc.Switchvoxwww.digium.comSwitchvox is Digium’s flagship IP PBX product built on Asterisk (News - Alert) that gives you out-of-the box unified communications capabilities, including Outlook integration, mobile features, VoIP, fax, chat, video calling, conferencing, contact center, and unified messaging. Switchvox SMB hardware appliances are available for small (up to 30 users), mid-size (up to 150 users), and larger (up to 400 users) SMBs.
Of course, Switchvox supports auto provisioning of popular IP phones, including those from Polycom and snom. Switchvox has free iPhone and BlackBerry apps that allow users to place calls directly from their cell phone as if they are calling from their office extension. The information-packed Switchboard provides an interactive dashboard view into call control, phone book, presence, chat, profile information and any other third-party web application. Users can manage their voicemail, custom greetings, reports, and call routing settings (find me, follow me) as well as Outlook contacts, mail and calendar integration and mobile phone integration. Switchboard also provides real-time call control and can interact with other users’ calls that they may have permissions over (monitor, whisper or barge in on queue members they manage). Callers can even create video panels within their Switchboard for full video and audio conferencing collaboration capabilities.
When a user’s phone rings, panels in the Switchboard can automatically show CRM data such as from Salesforce.com (News - Alert) or SugarCRM, geographical location using Google maps, or any other relevant data.
Asterisk explains to TMC Labs, “With the open API, Switchvox is the first premises-based IP PBX to easily integrate with any third-party web application from key business applications like Microsoft Dynamics CRM or social media contacts. Mashups between Switchvox and these applications take minutes to create and implement, allowing users to see relevant data about their callers. Users can query any database and pull pertinent information from third-party applications with each incoming or outgoing call. In CEBP-fashion this application integrates easily with Switchvox’s IVR to establish call strategies optimizing business processes. Digium makes this feature available to every user at no additional cost, really allowing businesses to create a phone system that works for them and improves their ROI.”
In the last six months, Switchvox has added mobile integration with the iPhone and BlackBerry applications and enhanced security for Switchvox, including requiring stronger passwords for the user and phone and stronger DOS attack prevention mechanisms (bad IP address blocking).
FonalityFonality Heads-Up-Display Mobilehttp://www.fonality.com
Fonality Heads-Up-Display (HUD) Mobile is a UC smartphone client application that connects your phones, desktop and important business applications into a single, unified interface. Fonality Heads-Up-Display Mobile extends their desktop version of HUD to your iPhone or Android smartphone to increase productivity and the ability to seamlessly work from anywhere.
HUD gives users the ability to call, e-mail, send a text, chat, and leave a voicemail from one easy-to-use platform. Displaying color-coded real-time updates, users can instantly know who is available, who is on a call, and who is in a meeting. Users have the ability to determine how they wish to be contacted, by directing calls to either their office or mobile phone. Fonality HUD gives users the ability to work from anywhere, as long as they either have an Internet connection or access to a mobile device. Integration of the users’ Google and Microsoft Exchange contacts allows for a simplified integration with their current contacts and the ability to click to e-mail and click to call.
HUD Mobile gives agents and managers simple usage by allowing them to log in and out of queues from their mobile devices. Managers can leverage real-time presence indications to monitor their agents, and record calls even when they are not in the office. Fonality Heads-Up-Display mobile edition is the first UC mobile client that provides rich real-time presence and contact center features for the SMB audience. According to Fonality, users can leverage the desktop client of HUD, the soon to be web-based version of the same client, or HUD mobile.
High Speed VideoClearVisionhttp://www.hsvideo.net
ClearVision is a managed SaaS-based enterprise-grade videoconferencing platform offering a standards-based and cross platform software-based alternative to more expensive hardware-based alternatives. It delivers enterprise-grade video communications and desktop telepresence as an end-to-end managed service, and supports advanced collaboration features.
ClearVision is designed to work with any web cam-equipped PC, giving it fully featured videoconferencing endpoint capabilities. The collaboration features include instant messaging, desktop sharing and document sharing integrated with ClearVision video communication features. Standards supported include H.323 and SIP signaling, H.263, H.264 and H.264SVC, H.460, and H.239.
High Speed Video explains, “ClearVision is the first enterprise-grade standards-based SaaS videoconferencing platform. We are also the first to provide completely software-based endpoints that can be integrated with existing/legacy videoconferencing and telepresence systems already in use by enterprises. ClearVision promises to truly democratize videoconferencing for the first time. The High Speed Video ClearVision Platform utilizes a proprietary transport methodology to ensure security, reliability and performance around the globe using existing IP network infrastructure.”
Their product works with all standards-based legacy systems, including legacy H.323 conferencing systems. Since it is service based, customers don’t need a specialized IT staff to manage it. They explain, “This combination of software and service also allows us to constantly upgrade the service with the latest technologies and support the latest devices (such as smartphones and tablets) that enterprises, government, education and health care industries may adopt. As a result, the risk of obsolescence is eliminated. The solution is completely disruptive because it offers all the features of systems costing 10 to 100 times more in TCO without any limitations over such systems.”
It features full HD, full-motion, low-bandwidth multipoint video communication that can support any kind of endpoint (PCs, laptops, mobile devices, tablets, etc.) as well as traditional telepresence room infrastructure. Also, ClearVision sessions can be set up within minutes across legacy systems and ClearVision endpoints – virtually on-demand. In the last six months, the company has added full 720P HD resolution, chat, and a VoIP softphone. The solution uses the Internet leveraging 300 to 400kbps connections, and the service is available for $100 per user per month, or less in volume.
Presence Technology LLCPresence Hosted Contact Center Suitehttp://www.presenceco.com
Presence Hosted Contact Center is a hosted all-in-one suite offering rapid integration with call center applications, lower TCO, and the ability to choose modules as needed, such as outbound, inbound, IVR, routing, e-services, recording, back office tasks, and reporting. The Presence Agent is a web-based system so all the agent needs is a browser, thereby enabling home-based agents as well. All other components, such as servers, gateway, etc., sit at the hosted location.
The Outbound Dialer, IVR, intelligent routing, database and recorder are all located in the hosted facility. Presence offers contact center services as needed, either on site, deployed as a hosted contact center service, or in a combination of both.
This hosted solution covers the gambit of automation, multi-channel, blending, predictive dialing, and quality recording requirements necessary in contact center environments. It also includes a powerful routing engine that takes into consideration business rules as well as service levels. It also has a fully integrated scripting tool, which can be used for outbound, inbound, multimedia and back office services. The outbound dialer offers three different automated dialing modes: preview, progressive and predictive.
Toshiba America Information Systems, Telecommunication Systems DivisionStrata Meetinghttp://www.presenceco.com
Strata Meeting is a meet-me audio conferencing and web collaboration solution available in a compact server appliance or a larger 1U rack-mount server. It’s compatible with Toshiba’s Strata CIX family of IP business communication systems, and is available from eight to 24 ports.
Toshiba’s Strata Meeting solution gives users of Toshiba VoIP systems the ability to create web meetings either scheduled or on the fly with audio conferencing, audio conference recording and desktop sharing. Toshiba explains, “Strata Meeting is one of the few meet-me audio conferencing products that also includes web collaboration capabilities at a price point suitable for the SMB.”
It features reservation-less and scheduled meet-me conferencing for fast start up of conferences and easy scheduling, and an easy-to-use web interface to enable moderators to schedule conferences. A Conference View shows moderators the participants that are in their conference and enables the management of individual participants. Participants can be muted, disconnected, or transferred to another conference for a sidebar conversation. Moderators and participants can also control the conference via DTMF. It also has Outlook Calendar integration, web-based reporting, as well as moderator and participant codes for security and control. One important feature is its built-in audio recording capabilities for later playback. It also sports built-in chat capabilities.
Many companies have a large ZoomSwitchZoomSwitch ZMS20-UChttp://www.zoomswitch.com
investment in wireless or corded office headsets and don’t want to make a huge investment in new UC headsets that work with both a PC and the phone. So how cn they leverage existing headsets in a new UC infrastructure? Well, ZoomSwitch’s ZMS20-UC solves the problem by allowing them to connect current headsets into their small circular unit. And, because it’s USB-based, it also connects to the PC and is detected as a USB audio device, including playback and microphone.
With the simple press of a button users can switch from PC to phone audio. A mute button is the only other button on top of the unit, making this a very simple device to use. It also includes a volume control on the side that amplifies the sound on the USB side, and a compatibility switch that includes normal, HIC (Avaya phone), and Cisco mode.
The product is intended for use with popular UC applications like Microsoft Office Communicator, Cisco IP Communicator, IBM (News - Alert) Sametime, Avaya One X, Google Voice, Skype and others. Introduced in late 2007, the original ZoomSwitch was the first product of its kind to hit the market. Now, the ZMS20-UC offers greater compatibility with phones and headsets, and adds critical features like volume control and mute. The product includes compatibility with most office headsets, including Jabra, Plantronics and Sennheiser.
The ZMS20-UC not only enables companies to leverage their existing investment in desk phones, wired and wireless headsets, but users can keep their favorite, most comfortable, and most ergonomic devices that they’ve become accustomed to. In the last six months, the ZMS20-UC Rev. A added a compatibility setting for the Avaya HIC cable, a new protective circuit, and stereo mixdown to listen to both channels of PC audio.
Tom Keating is vice president, CTO and executive technology editor/SEO director of TMC.
Tom Keating is Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Technology Marketing Corporation, and Executive Technology Editor/SEO Director for TMCnet.com. To read more of Tom’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Rich Steeves