Unified messaging 'changes everything'

10 Apr 2006

Cisco CEO John Chambers used his keynote at the VoiceCon show in Orlando to introduce a new suite of voice, data and video products and applications that enable enterprises to communicate more effectively by integrating traditionally separate communications tools under a single system that is tightly incorporated in the IT infrastructure.

Despite the proliferation of communications devices and applications, the company argues that communications has not become more effective. It notes that the average US executive has 6.4 communication applications. 'But our research shows that 40% of professionals cannot reach the right person at the right time to complete specific jobs,' said Gary Coman, Cisco's VP for Asia Pacific IP communications.

Branded as the Cisco Unified Communications system, the open platform brings together communications tools like email, voice, videoconferencing, IM and collaborative file sharing technologies under a single user interface. The system delivers presence and preference information to a company's employees that helps them use the right communications tool at any given time so they reach the other party the first time.

During a press conference in Bangkok, Coman proclaimed that 'this changes everything,' the company's new mantra. He said, 'we believe unified communications changes everything for the end-user, our partners as well as Cisco.'

Cisco reportedly is repositioning it IP communications portfolio, moving beyond switches and routers into the unified communications space, which enables all forms of communications.

'Cisco is shifting from selling individual servers and applications for IP-based communications to focusing on the system as a whole, including technical support services. It will offer per-seat licensing and market those systems to business decision-makers based on business benefits such as productivity, Coman told Telecom Asia.

The system's Unified Personal Communicator is designed to help users reach all their communications applications, such as voice calling, text messaging and videoconferencing, and move from one to another within the same desktop interface. It lets them search existing directories and see whether a contact is currently available and what device that person would prefer to use. Users can 'click to call' from the directory to start a voice or videoconferencing session.

The Cisco Unified Presence Server collects information about users' availability on various devices and publishes that information to Cisco IP phones, Cisco Personal Communicator and third-party services and applications such as Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005 and IBM Lotus Sametime.

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