Avaya Brings Mobile to Unified Communications for Small Business

By Thor Olavsrud | Posted January 12, 2012

Avaya, a specialist in business communications and collaboration systems and services, upped its mobile game in the small and mid-sized business field Thursday with a new version of the Avaya IP Office unified communications (UC) solution.

Unified communications is intended to automate and unify human and device communications to optimize business processes. Its promise involves reducing latency, managing flows and eliminating device and media dependencies through the integration of real-time communication tools (telephony, chat, presence, etc.) and non-real-time tools (email, voicemail, SMS, Fax, etc.).

With Avaya IP Office 8.0, Avaya said it has introduced a range of enhancements to drive improved collaboration, including a suite of mobile capabilities. According to research firm IDC, interest in UC among the SMB set is increasing.

The firm said more than 30 percent of small businesses plan to buy UC components in the next 12 months, and more than 55 percent of midsize firms plan to do the same. On the mobile front, IDC said more than 60 percent of mid-sized businesses already provide smartphones to employees (69 percent in the U.S. and 70 percent in the U.K.).

"Many general business and IT investment priorities cited by small and medium-sized businesses are associated with improving productivity by leveraging mobile communications and collaboration capabilities," said Justin Jaffe, research manager for SMB and home office markets, IDC. "Solutions like Avaya IP Office that are comprehensive, easy to integrate with existing infrastructure and designed specifically for mobile SMB workers will be particularly attractive."

Avaya has dubbed its new mobility suite one-X Mobile Preferred for IP Office. It currently provides a comprehensive set of UC capabilities for Android-compatible devices. Avaya promised it would add compatibility with Apple iOS devices early in 2012.

The key features of one-X Mobile Preferred include full multi-party management via mobile device, integrated presence capabilities, instant messaging, geopresence and visual voicemail.

• The full multi-party management feature lets you invite, view, mute and drop participants during a conference call. You can also use the feature to set up voice conferences by selecting participants and then initiate the group conference with a single touch.

• Integrated presence displays availability status to co-workers via the mobile device and shows specific times of availability based on your Microsoft Outlook calendar.

• The instant messaging feature integrates with the corporate directory to make it easy to find co-workers and initiate a text chat.

• The geopresence feature displays your location anywhere in the world, which Avaya noted was an ideal feature for teams in places like hospitals or hotels where employees need to quickly identify a co-worker's physical location.

• The visual voicemail feature gives you the capability to see all of your business voicemail on your mobile device with date and time information. You can also use the feature to listen to voicemail messages as they are being left.

The one-X Mobile Preferred for IP Office application builds on the existing Essential Mobility solution for IP Office. Essential Mobility extends voice capabilities like one-number access and call control to the mobile sphere. Essential Mobility is currently supported on Symbian, Windows Mobile and iOS devices (with support for Android and BlackBerry devices promised in the first quarter of 2012).

Beyond mobile, Avaya has added an integrated UC module called the Avaya C110 Unified Communications module that enables "serverless" collaboration, eliminating the need for an external server. Avaya IP Office 8.0 also features additional plug-ins to integrate the UC suite with existing desktop productivity applications. Among the features enabled by the plug-ins is the capability to make and receive phone calls from a Salesforce.com page and to use visual voicemail within a Microsoft Outlook email window.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals.

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