Ottawa-based Mitel Networks, longtime provider of hosted VoIP and unified communications applications, had a busy week last week.
First, they announced the successful closing of an IPO.
Second, they announced a partnership with Research In Motion (RIM), whereby Mitle’s Unified Communicator application works in tandem with RIM’s Mobile Voice System 5.0 (or MVS 5, itself just announced) to bring the full range of Mitel’s unified communications functionality to the BlackBerry smartphone.
Enterprise VoIPplanet.com had an opportunity to speak with Stephen Beamish, Mitel’s vice president of marketing and business development, and Arnaud Bellens, in charge of business development and strategic alliances for Mitel, to get the details.
“We’ve ported all of our UC applications—headed by our Unified Communicator app, which is our core app—which can now be fully integrated onto a BlackBerry device,” Beamish told VoIPplanet.
“What that means is that I now have a GUI on my device, and I can have all my corporate interests and contacts on my device. I can access them; I can see their presence and availability as to when that person is there. Also their device presence, so I can see when you’re on the phone, off the phone,” Beamish said.
Call history and visual voicemail are also available over the mobile device. “The beauty of visual voicemail is if I have 10 voicemails, I don’t have to listen to them in sequence, I can go straight to the ones I want to read. I can also be notified when someone becomes available again, so I can contact them directly from my BlackBerry,” Beamish said.
Another key facet of the integration, according to Beamish, is that it extends Mitel’s Dynamic Extension feature to the mobile device. “Dynamic Extension is a Mitel solution, whereby I publish one phone number, and that will ring any device—up to eight devices at one time,” Beamish explained.
Dynamic Extension brings all of Mitel’s VoIP functionality and features to whatever phone that answers the call—even traditional analog phones. “We’ve now extended that to MVS 5.0 so I can make a four-digit phone call from my BlackBerry and call anybody within the network—or the business. That is routed through the PBX, and I don’t have a toll charge,” Beamish told VoIPplanet.
Arnaud Bellens delved into another unique piece of Mitel technology—Mitel Dialing Status—and how that fits into the bigger picture.
“What it does is it sets your presence indication and also manages your call routing, so the call reaches you where you are,” Bellens said.
“For example, when I’m home, I like my status to be ‘Working from home,’ so that when someone rings my extension, it also rings my home phone number. But when I leave home and become mobile—on my way to the office—I want my status to be ‘Mobile,’ but I also want my personal home phone to be removed from my ring group so the person at home doesn’t get the call, but I get it on my BlackBerry,” he explained.
That’s pretty interesting stuff, but even cooler is that, since the BlackBerry is also equipped with global positioning system (GPS) technology, Dialing Status changes can be largely automatic.
“I don’t have to change that status manually any more,” Bellens said. “I can still do it through the UC application on the BlackBerry. The idea is to let the GPS to manage it as much as possible.”
One of the features of MVS 5.0—which as we mentioned was announced just a day or two before the Mitel/RIM collaboration—is that it now Wi-Fi enables the BlackBerry device. Bellens and Beamish confirmed for Enterprise VoIPplanet that the user can indicate a preference that Wi-Fi be used wherever available. When Wi-Fi is not available, calls and other communications data travel over the cellular network.
Mitel views its forays into mobile communications as having significantly altered the prevailing view of mobility. “It’s not just about road warriors,” Beamish stated, “it’s about corridor warriors. Whether I’m 100 miles away or 100 feet away from my desk, I’m still mobile.”
So, the company feels, tying all the up-to-date communications technologies to a mobile device, creates a new possibility for businesses:
“What we really foresee happening is a greater use of the mobile device as the only device,” Beamish asserted. “We’ve already got to the point where you only need one phone number—and that can be any device—and only one mailbox, but we’re going to see more and more businesses where the employee—if they have BlackBerries already—they will keep that device as their primary business telephone.”
Aside from the abstract desirability of consolidating devices and technologies, Beamish pointed out that cost savings would undeniably come with such a change. “All business calls will be routed through the PBX [thanks to this technology], and all the personal calls will be routed through their regular plans. So no longer will businesses have to pay for the personal plans of individuals.
“I’m really bullish that, because of the sophistication of the BlackBerry device and the continued growth of the strength of things such as MVS 5 and the Mitel applications, that Mitel and BlackBerry are going to be working together to help push businesses to complete that strategy of using mobile devices as the primary means of communication. So getting a single phone number and now a single device,” Beamish concluded.