Parallel Lines: Hosted UC

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Unified communications (UC) means different things to different people. For many telephony hardware vendors, UC is about making phones more intelligent and able to communicate with software on customers’ PCs and laptops.

For our business, UC will provide true convergence between our hosted application services and our hosted telephony services. This technology has finally come of age and the company is looking to launch its first full UC packages later this year.

We take a different approach. Most companies are making telephony assets application-aware – we’re using UC to make our hosted applications voice-aware and allowing deep integration with the desktop.

By developing a product such as hosted Microsoft Communication Service with integration to customers’ hosted iPBX service, customers are able to voice-enable any of their Microsoft applications instantly.

The telephony service is also application aware, so the call-routing and delivery is based on information already in the customer’s computer.
A typical hosted UC scenario would be the customer opening a Word document, which had been downloaded from hosted SharePoint.

The document might contain various mark-ups and amends, and each person responsible for editing is shown within the document – not just their email, but their presence information.

Using hosted UC, the user can right-click and call the person from within the document to discuss and amend. In the background, the UC system knows where to route the call – based on the recipient’s presence and calendar information – delivering the call to the correct handset.

Even as the call is in progress, the employee can bring in extra people by opening Outlook contacts and clicking them into a call, which is now a conference call.

If dealers need to see the actual Word document while they discuss it, the employee can share their view of the document with all the recipients as they talk.

All the callers in this scenario would use standard phones and broadband connections and be situated in different parts of the world. This type of interaction is simply not possible today without installing very expensive hardware and costly specialised-broadband connections.

Hosted UC is a wrapper technology – combining the power of hosted applications with advanced call routing, video conferencing and virtual meeting capability. Because it is hosted in ‘the cloud’, customers do not need to purchase expensive hardware or software – they simply rent it as a monthly service.

This technology is easily scalable and very secure, making it suitable for small and large enterprises alike.

Full article in Mobile News issue 444 (July 27, 2009).

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