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Which mobile UC application or technology should I be looking into now if my goal is to cut down on

Which mobile UC application or technology should I be looking into now if my goal is to cut down on phone tag and "human latency?" In other words, where's the best place to start speed up customer response time, etc.?

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Early UC platforms often integrated mobility only at the most basic level, e.g. forwarding or diverting calls to cell phones, or allowing for simultaneous ringing on a deskphone and mobile. To make more significant productivity savings and to improve response times, the system must integrate fixed and mobile voicemail, messaging and email systems, and support presence and location awareness. Solutions that have significant input from a mobile specialist often provide greater richness on the mobile side, rather than treating it as a sideline or optional extra. The best example is the Cisco-Nokia agreement for Cisco's Unified Mobile Communicator. However, this is a high end solution, especially for a non-Cisco site.

The key decision is whether to adopt a PBX-centric approach (for companies where most of the staff involved are office based, and where improvements in responsiveness are mainly in fixed locations, e.g. call centers, HQ); or a mobile carrier-oriented approach, which can often be hosted by a mobile operator and is optimized for staff who are usually on the road or remote. A third option is centered on Wi-Fi and is strong for companies with significant WLANs in their offices and/or large numbers of home-based or on-the-road employees. They will require dual model cellular/Wi-Fi handsets and good access to Wi-Fi. These solutions are less tested than the other two approaches but are easy to set up, relatively low-cost and scalable. Fixed and mobile messaging and mail systems are seamlessly integrated using Wi-Fi and Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) though without integration with the PBX some enterprise features are lost.

Strong contenders for mobile UC include:

• PBX-oriented Aastra (teamed with Ericsson), Avaya, Cisco, Shoretel
• Carrier-hosted: AT&T, BT, T-Mobile, Orange
• Wi-Fi: Aruba and Meru
• PBX Adjunct: Agito, RIM, Divitas (add functionality but only to certain PBXs)
• Mobile operator Adjunct: Kineto, Tango (add functionality but only to certain mobile systems)
• Others: Nokia, Nokia/Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, DME

This was first published in March 2009

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