By Ellen Muraskin  |  Posted 2004-06-04 Print this article Print

Theres one option with Your Assistant that I, as a tech journalist, could really warm to: Using a Knowledge Management system OEMd from dtSearch Corp., of Bethesda, Md., it can index documents anywhere in your file system by the names of people or groups in your Outlook PIM. So, should my SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) guru call me back a day after Ive left a burning question in his voice mail, I need not drag my brain out of todays subject matter, force it back into yesterdays and fumble through files until finding the one with the highlighted questions.
Theoretically, at least, a screen pop-up would produce not only the gurus Outlook record but also an instantly accessible list of files of related correspondence, presentations and the story in progress.
Salesfolk—who have a 750 percent greater likelihood of ever actually gaining this tool, publishers being the parsimonious bunch that they are—could appear totally focused and dedicated to anyone who calls. Click here to read about how Equant is expanding the range of IP PBXs with which it can integrate. To be sure, Mitel has not given up on the use—or the profit—of hardware phones. You can click on Your Assistant to make the call, and it will activate your IP phone unless youd prefer to use a headset. But the phones are all about converged media, as well. Ramping up from voice to video is a matter of one button on the handset. At the highest end of the phone line, the 5240 "IP Appliance" comes with an XML and HTML browser, upon which such applications as hospital television-service ordering and meal selection have been implemented. Cheaper, teleworker versions come with a two-line screen. All of them can be daisy-chained to PCs. If networks fail, the phones—three of which can work on one DSL link, they say—can fall over to analog PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). They have dual-boot VOIP functionality, to SIP or Mitels own MiNet IP protocol. Mitel also sells its system with a Nuance Communications Inc. speech engine, voice verifier and VoiceXML interpreter. This works in the unified messaging application so you can voice dial or order up particular voice mails by saying, for example, "Give me Dan Smiths voice mail." It also makes it possible to write and run any kind of IVR application using VoiceXML markup language. The window-side row of cubicles in Mitels demo center is dedicated to contact-center applications. These, too, are sold very modularly and based on an OEM of contact-center technology based in Sioux Falls, S.D., called Prairie Fire Communications. Here, youll find intelligent routing of calls and e-mails, agent scheduling and forecasting, historical reporting, supervisor monitoring, recording (with synchronized screen activity) and supervisor control. Youll also find intelligent queuing that tells customers on hold how long theyll have to wait and asks them if theyd like to let a voice mail hold their place in line for them. Like all other IP PBX vendors, Mitel beats the drum of incremental migration to IP. Phil Ouellete, my demonstrator, posits a customer who has just invested in two TDM PBXs but wants to gateway the two across a WAN and wants to grow into Mitels capabilities. For this site, Mitels reseller inserts a plain, unadorned ICP 3300 platform on either side of the customers WAN, gatewaying to the TDM PBXs on either side. For now, it packetizes voice and passes QSIG signals for four-digit dialing and toll bypass. Later, "well turn on licenses," Ouellete said. The 3300s can grow to serve voice mail at first—or remote IP phone users, ACD or conferencing—and can eventually replace the PBXs entirely. In a similar vein, a CITELlink gateway in the demo centers equipment room, from Seattle-based Citel Technologies, made it possible to hook up your new ICP 3300 to pre-existing Norstar phones from Brampton, Ontario-based Nortel Networks Ltd. Check out eWEEK.coms VOIP & Telephony Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.

Ellen Muraskin is editor of's VOIP & Telephony Center. She has worked on the editorial staff at Computer Telephony, since renamed Communications Convergence, including three years as executive editor. Muraskin's work has also appeared in Popular Science magazine and other publications.

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