by Jeff Mirman, Technical Sales Lead
Do you have a phone on your desk with buttons on it?
Does it ring when people dial the number to that phone?
If you’re not sitting next to your phone, do you miss the call?
If you answered yes to the above three questions, while you may have escaped green screen, you are still stuck with mid-1960s technology. That’s right. According to the push-button telephone wiki “the first electronic push-button telephone system, with Touch-Tone dialing, was offered by Bell Telephones to AT&T customers” on November 18th, 1963. After reflection, I was surprised at how much I use decades-old phone technology on a daily basis without complaint. I work daily with sophisticated collaboration tools that allow me to communicate in a variety of ways—but when it comes to the phone, I regularly use time-consuming, out-dated processes, such as copying phone numbers to my phone manually off my computer and other devices. Add a business phone and mobile phone to the mix, and the time spent working with 1960s phone technology further increases. In today’s fast paced world, phones and their enterprise requirements should be changing along with it, instead of slowing you down.
Realizing I had previously settled for out-dated phone technology, I started contemplating ideal phone requirements.
What do I want from my phone?
- My phone should be able to identify at least some of the people calling me.
- My phone should be able to route people by category based upon my availability
- During business hours it should route to me where ever I am
- If I’m in a meeting route to voicemail, the phone should explain I’m in a meeting, and when I’ll call back
- If I’m in a meeting and the CEO of my company rings my phone, I’ll know to step out and answer.
- If it’s after-hours, the phone should route to voicemail stating when I will next be available to return the call.
- If it’s after-hours and I’m on emergency call–it should route to my current location.
- If it’s my insurance agent, the phone should just route straight to voicemail any time of the day.
- Extensible Dial UI: I should be able to access my telephone, and dial numbers on my phone, from my computer or any other device I use.
- My phone should move my calls to move with me.
- If I’m leaving the office the call can be transferred to mobile. If I’m arriving in the office, the car can be transferred from mobile to office line.
- My phone should keep a log of my calls.
- My phone should help me make my list of calls, instead of slowing me down by forcing me to dial every number. It should:
- Have intelligent phone lists that dial with a click
- Have metrics–when did I last connect, what’s the best time to reach this person (given a number of attempts with successes and fails)
- Eliminate most or all busy-signals. If someone is on their phone I should know that at a glance, not after waiting to hear after I’ve attempted to connect.
My phone shouldn’t be a phone. It should be a cloud concept driving peripherals based upon demand.
The IBM Sametime Unified Telephony meets my ideal phone expectations. It requires a PBX and some modification to the PBX (usually strictly software) to support the advanced features that enterprises should be demanding from their telephony solutions.
Let’s visualize a day with IBM Sametime Unified Telephony:
Your day begins out of the office. IBM Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT), aware of your off-site location, has already begun routing your incoming calls to your current location. Instead of dialing their way through your personal cell, your home phone, or mobile work number, clients or colleagues need only call one phone number to reach you. This sole number dials into the corporate PBX and SUT, and the phone nearest to you rings.
Arriving at the office, you log into Sametime [and SUT which runs on the Sametime client] and instantly know the online status of your colleagues. At a glance, you have access to who is available, in a meeting, away from their desk, and who should not-be-disturbed. If someone is currently on the phone, rather than redialing them continuously, you have alternative options. You can wait until they hang up, or you can choose to send an instant message. When they hang up, you dial with a simple click. No need to remember their number or location–SUT handles everything. And if you want to add other participants to the call it’s as simple as clicking and dragging their names to the existing conversation.
Later, on a call but needing to catch a flight to meeting in Atlanta, you log out of Sametime and transfer the call with a few simple clicks to your mobile. You fly to Atlanta and check into the downtown Hyatt. You connect your computer to the Intranet and securely log in to Sametime Unified Telephony, which then begins to ring. You answer the phone on your computer. The other person calling simply called your office number. They have no idea the call was routed from your companies PBX over the Internet to your computer because you were logged in to SUT.
The call comes to an end and you place a video call to Tony from R&D, who’s also in Atlanta for the meeting, to verify (for the 3rd time) that the prototype will be ready for your meeting the next day. Tony’s face pops up, and he immediately says look, I have it right here. There on his desk is the prototype—complete and ready for the presentation. You both agree to meet up later that evening to prep for tomorrow’s presentation, and end the video call.
After you hang up the phone you place a quick call to your spouse. You simply click the entry in the ST telephone book. The call again goes over the Internet and is then a local call from the PBX to your house. No long-distance fee. No hotel phone use fee. And with only one single telephone number. It’s really that quick and easy.
With the sophisticated level of technology available in every other facet of life, you should not have to settle for time-consuming phone technology dating back to the sixties. As the ease and capabilities of the IBM Sametime Unified Telephony illustrates, your phone doesn’t just have to be a phone. It can be a cloud concept driving peripherals based upon demand.
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