When you think about unified communications you probably think of the big software or hardware companies. These are the organizations making the biggest splash in the UC area.
But we all know about the big boys. What is really interesting is the small players because they are doing today what the big boys will be doing months or sometimes years later.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Esna Technologies CEO Mohammad Nezarati and discuss the latest developments at his company. Esna has been in the telecom space for about two decades and I used to run in to them frequently in the nineties at Computer Telephony shows when the CTI craze took hold of the market.
Then the company fell off my radar for a few years. I knew Esna had some OEM deals but I didn’t know much more about what they were up to.
Mohammed brought me up to speed rather quickly telling me the company has been improving its’s flagship Telephony Office-LinX 7.0 by focusing on areas of growth such as speech, mobility and back office integration. He tells me the company is seeing more and more requests for back office integration and since Esnatech has been doing this integration for nearly two decades, they are quite good at it by now.
In fact he told me the company invented an SOA of sorts – something he refers to as ESNA SOA in 1998-1999. Esna Technologies has had MS Exchange and Outlook integration for about ten years and has mobile clients for Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Symbian devices.
The mobile client allows you to see the presence information of others such as when they are on the phone, off, etc. You can even set the system to initiate a phone call when the party in question is available.
Using bluetooth Telephony Office-LinX can determine if your cell phone is in range and if it is, it knows you should receive calls at the location. If not, your mobile device is used.
You can also use speech recognition to interact with the system in a natural way allowing you to forward a call to “Tom Keating” for example. If you are on the same system you can forward a voicemail as voicemail but if not you can forward the voicemail as an e-mail attachment.
The way this is done is you can say the number “1” instead of pressing it. So I can say “1” to forward the message and then say “Tom Keating” to make sure the message goes to him.
You can also use the system to read your e-mail if you choose and you can forward e-mails using your voice as well.
There is also a call history tracker allowing you to have journal entries of the calls with duration of the call and the phone number associated with it. This allows you to do searches of calls at specific date ranges or by area code. In addition this technology will be brought to mobile clients in the 7.5 release of the software. This will allow a single call history from both devices.
On a recent call to Mohamed the system sent me to voicemail and he pulled me out of voicemail from his home. As he explains it, the client software was running on a laptop in the kitchen and the software detected the bluetooth signature of the cellphone allowing it to know he was nearby. He was able to pull me out of voicemail and take my call.
The system is not a PBX but works with most PBXs on the market and even has open-source connectivity to SwitchVox.
Another interesting feature is backoffice CRM integration allowing a customer to be connected with the last agent they spoke with. This should help improve customer service/CRM levels in an organization.
The company’s IVR system hooks into many databases and there is a script builder allowing you to customize the system to suit your needs. You can use it to determine if a caller has a current service contract for example and you can take appropriate action depending on the outcome.
Esna’s OEMs have people who can help you with this integration if you need it or you can have your own technical team tackle the integration if you so choose.
Communications development is an essential part of unified communications. In fact for true unification of communications with a company’s core objectives, communications developers are a must! Microsoft knows this all too well as they are augmenting their development tools so they can help developers quickly build new and innovative communications applications.
So as unified communications takes on a more important role in organizations, expect CIOs to be looking for technologies such as those from Esna to help them truly unify their communications into their core business processes.
Attention developers: be sure to mark your calendar for TMC’s Communications Developer Conference which takes place May 14-17, 2007 in Santa Clara, CA.