The advance of voice-over-IP systems is blurring the line between the PC and the telephone, making the PC as convenient as the phone and the phone as versatile as the PC. Making strides on both fronts, Citrix Systems Inc. plans to unveil two new sets of features for its Application Gateway for IP telephony.
The Application Gateway provides converged voice and data functions for IP telephone screens and speakers, allowing companies to extend business applications to their phones. Citrix partners with most major IP telephony vendors, some of which sell the gateway under their own brands.
This week, Citrix is rolling out Hospitality Voice Services, a set of features for hotels and resorts that allows them to integrate guest room phones with property management systems and to display up-to-date information and advertising on the phones.
Las Vegas-based Station Casinos Inc., which operates 13 properties in Nevada, plans to deploy IP phones programmed with Hospitality Voice Services in its newest resort, Red Rock Station, said Thomas Noto, director of network communications for Station Casinos. It will be the companys first IP telephony deployment.
Noto is working with Citrix to develop the customized phone content for the five-star, 450-room Las Vegas resort, which is scheduled to open in March. The phones 8-inch, color display will provide a personal touch the moment guests arrive in their rooms.
"When they get to their room, [the phone] will read, Welcome, Mr. Jones [for example]," Noto said. He added that, at first, the phones will otherwise offer standard functions, such as voice mail and call buttons for the front desk, housekeeping and room service. "Were not going to try to bite off too much at the beginning," he said.
Two months after the resort opens, Noto plans to add more functions so the phones can display restaurant menus and allow guests to purchase show tickets, movie tickets and gift shop items directly from the touch-screen.
In a third phase of deployment, about six months after Red Rock Station opens, the phones will be integrated with Station Casinos club card system, and guests will be able to check their membership benefits on the display.
To ensure that guests at the upscale property experience no unwanted con-fusion, each room at Red Rock Station will have a standard digital phone on the nightstand and in the bathroom, Noto said.
Also this week, Citrix is adding Smart Agent technology to its Voice Office suite. The first application to include the new technology will be Click-to-Call, which allows users to dial their phones by clicking a number in e-mail or a Web application.
Although there have been consider-able advances in integrating the PC and the phone in contact centers, it hasnt been easy in other professional contexts because it typically required the network administrator to install a special interface on each PC and update it every time a change was made to the IP PBX system, said officials at Citrix, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Smart Agent technology uses a small, Web-distributed, automated updating client that simplifies deployment and upgrading. Once the client is downloaded from a customers internal Web site, telephone numbers in e-mail messages and Web applications are transformed to hot links.