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Unified Communications

Nortel's Recent Wins and More

March 29, 2008

Nortel's Wes Durow

One of the largest if not the largest deployment of VoIP I am aware of has to be Nortel's 10-year, $300 million dollar win with the US Social Security Administration which will support fifty-five thousand virtual workers and support baby boomers worldwide.

Nortel has had a number of DoD wins recently and part of the reason for this is due to the timing of a test network the Canadian telecom giant had at the DoD when a major network outage occurred about seven years ago. Apparently, Nortel's network was the most resilient and stayed up while others did not… Since this time, the company has been doing well supplying myriad government solutions.

In an interview with Wes Durow, who is Nortel's VP, Enterprise Solutions Global Product Marketing, we discussed the fact that the company refreshed the entire Bay Networks line (the data networking division) about seven months back and as they were doing this they had customer requests to develop more energy efficient solutions.

Now Durow proudly tells me the company's data products are much more resilient, have better performance and are extremely energy efficient.

According to Durow, "You can upgrade your data network and pay for VoIP with your energy savings."

This is all good news and Durow says candidly that companies do not buy products for the sake of being green but instead for the energy efficiency. I get the feeling he is right on with this comment.

I just can't imagine the head of IT going into a management meeting and saying I think throwing away our old network is the green thing to do and keeping her/his job.

Wes went on to tell me that there is a great deal of activity in their telepresence sales and they have partnered with Tandberg and Polycom, companies who supply some of the most open solutions on the market.

Durow went on to explain they have a suite of products that extend mobility which they refer to as unified mobile convergence. The solutions have native Microsoft and IBM UC connectivity and they further allow access to IP PBX features from the cell phone and allow you to move between WiFi zones without dropping calls.

We can also expect Nortel to get more active in the developer arena and this is good news for customers as the more developers get on the Nortel bandwagon, the more Nortel customers benefit.

TMC Growth Update

March 28, 2008

Congratulations to TMC's Kevin Kiley who was just promoted to VP of Finance. Great job Kevin.

In addition I would like to thank TMC readers and our partners who have allowed us to continue our wave of growth.

In the past few months we have hired the following new team additions:

  • John McInerney, Marketing Projects Manager
  • Tim Bongiovanni, Account Executive, Customer Interaction Solutions magazine
  • Mo Harrim, Web Developer
  • Richard Moavero, Account Executive, IP Communications Group
  • Kevin Lake, Account Executive, Events Division
  • Tullio Gianitti, Account Executive, Webinar Group

This does not include our new writers (Charlotte Wolter, Gary Kim, Jon Arnold, Peter Radzieski, Scott Wharton, David Yedwab, Taran Singh, Rick Graves, Dr. Alan Solheim, Jagan Jagannathan, Phil Hill, Chris Gatch, Dan Miller and eight full-time freelance editorial contributors.)

Once again, I would like to extend my appreciation to TMC readers, sponsors and team members for helping us achieve our current growth levels and we look forward to making 2008 the year when all of our products perform better than ever.


Real Visual Voicemail on your iPhone

March 28, 2008

Grandstream's Grand GXE502X

March 25, 2008

Many of us know Grandstream for their IP Phones which offer great value as well as an assortment of analog gateways, ATAs, videophones, etc. I have spoken with resellers in fact who sell truckloads of Grandstream equipment on the show floor.

So when you make IP phones and are looking to get into new markets, where do you go? If you remember, years back, Pingtel moved from selling IP phones which won design awards into the IP-PBX and later the open-source IP-PBX space.

Grandstream is another company located in Massachusetts who has decided to branch out into the IP-PBX space but in this case they have created a simple-looking device dubbed the GXE502X which can support up to 100 extensions and over 50 simultaneous calls.

The box has many features and is surprisingly robust.

For example, there is a built-in fax server with print-to-fax capability. The server converts faxes to PDFs and e-mails them.

LiteScape's Unified Communications Applications

March 23, 2008

One of the more interesting unified communications companies is Litescape. They are doing new things in the UC space and more importantly, I can't think of another company who does what they do.

The company's Oncast solution enables phones to act like PCs and PCs to act like phones. For example, the company has a corporate directory application which works seamlessly with any phone or PC. To pull this off, LiteScape utilizes the directories of disparate systems such as LDAP, and your personal address book to name a few.

In addition, Oncast allows Cisco and Avaya phones to have single-touch connectivity to WebEx via phone or PC.

Calabrio's Call Center Solutions Advance

March 23, 2008

The trend towards unification is something you can see everywhere from cellular phones which now include music players, GPS and cameras to desktop software allowing communications with once disparate applications.

One company in the call center space which is surfing the wave of integration is Calabrio as they have just announced a number of improvements to their software suite. The company was spun out of SpanLink Communications about a year ago and is now firmly established as a leader in the workforce and quality management areas.

In a conversation with the company's VP of marketing and Business Development, Tim Kraskey, we got to speaking about all the changes at the company. The first was to enable a single view of the customer and each user's activities.

This includes leveraging IM, presence, Wikis, RSS feeds and tagging as well as traditional workflow processes.

As you may recall, this is not unlike what Nortel was recently discussing with me regarding customer experience 2.0.

The next goal the company has is to present the appropriate "services" to each user's desktop based on their role…agent, supervisor, evaluator, manager, executive or knowledge worker, etc.

The company has a container view allowing widgets to be used within a browser in a manner which allows integration with business applications.

Calabrio WFM is now up to version 8.3 and this 100% web-based release includes things like enhanced vacation planning, strategic planning, reusable scenarios for forecasts and distribution, project scheduling and the workforce management software works with Nortel, Avaya and Cisco platforms.

Quality management improvements include knowledge worker recording, a graphical dashboard, on-demand recording, extended screen-recording for after-call work and custom metadata for recordings which allow there to be a richer set of data identifiers when playing back and analyzing calls.

In the interoperability realm, there are now CRM integrations for, Siebel Customer Relationship Management and Microsoft CRM

The call center world seems to be rapidly catching up to the web 2.0 world with myriad integrations and features which were once absent from our industry. Although the tools are coming online, I only hope call center managers and CXOs realize that the contact center can be much more useful when fully automated and this will result in higher levels of customer service and increased sales.

See also:

Calabrio Renames Its Unified Interaction Suite

Plantronics Doing Something Big

March 23, 2008

Plantronics is planning something big. I have discussed this before and they are staying pretty quiet about what they are working on. Moreover whatever they are doing has been in development for over a year and they aren't close enough to a launch to even drop serious hints.

Two things I do know is they want to be big in CEBP space and they are also looking to extend the headset paradigm.

It is tough to know what they have up there sleeves but the only hint I have is that when I asked if they are looking to add a heads up display to the headset, they say they did consider this idea but decided against it.

So I can only conclude they will be getting more deeply into the mobile device market. I suppose there is room for the company in the space occupied by Polycom.

The Talkument Evolution

March 23, 2008

Have you ever compared an e-mail conversation to one by phone? I can search e-mail conversations and forward them as needed. These conversations via e-mail become part of a company's knowledge base and can be used for analytics and other purposes. There is a gold mine in corporate e-mail if you know how to access this vital information.

For all the talk of communications progress, it is ironic that the traditional telephone call is not recorded, analyzed, forwarded or shared.

Nortel's Customer Experience 2.0

March 23, 2008

Perhaps one of my most interesting vendor meeting as of late was with Nortel where David Murashige VP & GM Multimedia Applications and Debora Glennon in Multimedia Applications Marketing really got me thinking about the way customers are serviced today. For example, Glennon started talking to me about customer experience 2.0 which reminded me a great deal of the Call Center 2.0 event TMC currently sponsors twice a year.

But Nortel really takes the 2.0 to the next level as they integrate the web with their customer service solutions. They feel that the company of the future needs to worry about social networking, blogging and all other areas of web 2.0.

The scary thing about customer service today is that a single customer can tell millions of other potential customers about how unhappy they are with your company.

Nortel thinks they are in a great position to help you solve the challenges facing customer service in a Web 2.0 world as they have been aligning people, information and communications in contact center for years.

In order to integrate more with Web 2.0 concepts, Nortel is transitioning its solutions to a web services framework and subsequently evolving from a company selling solutions for silos such as the contact center, IVR, etc to a provider of custom experience management in a Web 2.0-enabled world.

I for one cannot be more elated about this news as the contact center has been a bit stale lately as there hasn't been as much innovation as there could be. The next evolution of contact centers is definitely customer experience 2.0 and I applaud Nortel's efforts in this area and I can't wait to see their new solutions in action.

Mitel and Sun go Green

March 23, 2008

In the communications space there are a number of companies that tell us they are green and to be honest, I am sure they are all doing their best to develop applications which are energy efficient. But until every company achieves such lofty goals, there will be some companies which are greener than others.

Case in point is Mitel. I recently had a discussion with Doug Michaelides, the company's vice president of marketing where we discussed the Mitel's alliance with SUN to deliver UC solutions. He pointed out in our meeting that of course UC is a green technology to begin with as it reduces commuting costs.

From there he went on to say a Sun/Mitel UC solution reduces power consumption per person from 90 watts to nine.

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