But that connection has been complicated by the fact that cell phones lack the flexible features—like multiparty conferencing and abbreviated extension dialing—that enterprise users get from desk phones that connect through corporate PBX systems.
Avaya Inc. plans to change all that. At CeBIT, the worlds largest technology show, opening Thursday, the company announced plans to become the first IP telephony partner of Symbian Ltd., makers of the dominant operating system on enterprise-class mobile phones.
Avaya also announced that it will bring its Internet protocol-based software with advance mobility capabilities to Nokias Series 60 mobility platform, which uses the Symbian operating system.
"We see connecting mobile devices into the corporate network as a fundamentally important area to develop," said Geoffrey Baird, vice president and general manager of the Communications Appliances Division at Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Avaya. "Bringing mobile phones into the corporate communications network is a key opportunity in the marketplace," he added.
"This is what is known in the industry as Fixed-to-Mobile Convergence," said Baird, "and it is an important area for our customers because so many of their users are mobile phone users. These kinds of capabilities just dont exist for them at the moment."
Communications Manager will allow a salesperson who takes a call in the field on a mobile phone to transfer that call through the corporate PBX to an assistant or call center to complete an order, for example.
A doctor could attend to a patient request using a mobile phone and offer a diagnosis routed through a PBX so that the cell number remained anonymous. Financial brokers, who are presently unable to conduct trades via cell phones because legally the calls must be recorded, will now be able to do so from the road as the calls are logged through a PBX where they can be recorded.
To date, cell phones and fixed-line desk phones have operated independently in the corporate environment. The Nokia partnership will enable enterprises to use Avayas Communications Manager, currently available on Motorola phones, on any phone that uses Nokias Series 60 platform.
"This means were now working with the top two vendors of mobile phones," Baird said.
The Series 60 platform, which Nokia licenses to other vendors, is presently the most popular development platform for mobile devices. Users will be able to download Communication Managers client software to any Series 60, Version 2 edition devices. Communications Manager is scheduled to become available for Series 60 V. 2 in the third quarter.