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In this Executive Insights podcast, Jim Burton of UCStrategies is joined by Ron Wellard, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Mitel Communication Solutions. With its latest announcement, Mitel adds the Apple iPhone and iPad to its UC Advanced Mobile offerings.
Also on UCStrategies.com on this topic:
Mitel Says There’s an App for That, by Blair Pleasant
Jim Burton: Welcome to UCStrategies Executive Insights. This is Jim Burton and I am joined today by Ron Wellard, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Mitel’s Communication Solutions.
I have been following Mitel for years, as many of you know, because we have done quite a number of podcasts with Mitel executives. And the thing that I have pointed out before and I would like to point out again is that Mitel is one of the most innovative companies in the communications industry. And one thing that I remember a number of years ago, is that Mitel was the first company to come out with a PDA phone, something that could dock PDAs and this was over 10 years ago. So Ron, I understand that as the technology within our industry has evolved, meaning in the olden days we had to have hardware devices to make all of this stuff happen, because you couldn’t add software to many of those early mobile devices. But today you can, and I understand that Mitel is making some changes and having some products that will add to that market space. Can you discuss that a little bit?
Ron Wellard: Yes, that’s right Jim. Mitel had been very much focused on the user experience for many, many years and looking at communications from the user’s perspective. And of course, mobility is very, very prevalent today and becoming increasingly more dominant and the preferred means of communication for users.
Another trend is “bring your own” device. In the past IT organizations tended to make choices for their enduser communities and specified specific types of devices, but more increasingly today, users are bringing their own devices and saying, “We want to have our enterprise communication solutions be loaded up on our personal device.” And so with that, Mitel is responding to those trends and is committed to provide maximum flexibility to endusers.
Jim Burton: Ron you’ve discussed the fact that “bring your own device” is certainly something that is important for the marketplace. But I know that that creates challenges for the IT manager and I know there are other challenges. Can you discuss that for us a little bit?
Ron Wellard: IT managers are needing to respond to the ever-increasing demands of their user communities. Users are becoming driven from the innovation from a consumer perspective and are demanding access to rich communication solutions, so that they can operate effectively anywhere, anytime, while they are mobile, or whatnot. And that creates challenges from a IT perspective, problems of security. And as we talked about also, challenges in terms of supporting multiple different device types. So with this solution, as an extension of our Unified Communicator Advanced solution, we now have a solution which is available across the three most popular mobile operating systems and has a set of capabilities which is very similar to the set of capabilities that is available on our PC-based clients.
Jim Burton: Well I see that this is an important thing for a lot of people. Everywhere I go people are using these mobile devices more and more and more, but why is this release important to the marketplace?
Ron Wellard: This release essentially completes the Mitel strategy around freedom of choice from an end user in terms of device choice. Our Unified Communicator Advanced Mobile solutions have been available on BlackBerry devices, as well as Android devices for quite a while. And with this release, we’ve now extended the support to include iPhone and iPad. We also offer the same functionality through a general browser interface, so that we can extend the range of support to our mobile devices with a reasonable browser, even beyond those three platforms.
Jim Burton: You mentioned the Mitel Freedom Architecture, how does that relate to Mitel’s approach to mobility?
Ron Wellard: Mitel’s Freedom Architecture touches on a number of things, a number of key elements of flexibility that IT organizations are looking for. So with our virtualization and virtualization of unified communications, we’ve broken the link between the need for deploying unified communication solutions on specific hardware platforms and tying them to a specific operations practices. So with virtualization, you can deploy the unified communications infrastructure within your virtualized environment and you can manage it the same way that you manage all your other business applications. So that is one element of Freedom.
Another element of Freedom is, some other manufacturers restrict the deployment of their UC solutions onto a specific of network, if you will, or at least they work better on a particular network infrastructure than others. So with Mitel, we’re data infrastructure agnostic and that’s another element of Freedom.
The last element of Freedom, is freedom of choice for the end user and I mentioned the “bring your own device” trend and that’s something that we are seeing increasingly in the user community. Mitel is very much onboard with that and looking to provide our solutions across the maximum number of platforms. So you don’t have to have a Mitel device to get out a unified communications value proposition.
Jim Burton: Ron, we’ve talked a little bit about how these new solutions fit into your mobile solution, but how does it fit into Mitel’s unified communications solutions overall?
Ron Wellard: Unified Communicator Advanced is the single portal on all of Mitel’s unified communications value. So we offer a PC client that users can deploy, it comes with a softphone as well as it supports IM and presence, as well as a number of other innovative capabilities. And it delivers the value of Mitel’s total suite of unified communications server-based solutions. With this latest client this extends the value to mobile devices.
Jim Burton: Well that is certainly is where the market is headed and it sounds like you are leading the way again. Could you give us a little more detail about what some of the features and functionalities that are being brought to the user with these solutions with Advanced Mobile?
Ron Wellard: Yeah, sure thing. A user can get access to the corporate directory. We support a feature called OfficeLink, which allows you to have the PBX phone you back, so you can minimize mobility charges and what not. In fact, you can actually direct the feedback to phone you back at any directly diable extension and you can control that from your mobile device. You can have it phone you back on your conference unit if that’s what you want to do, so that’s OfficeLink. You can also look at your recent call history, you can see who’s phoned you, what calls you made, you can get access to your voice mails. We support a unique capability for end user control of their communications preferences, and we refer to it as Dynamic Status, whereby a user can set their status so that that status is available and visible to other users and you can control your call routing based on that status, based either manually by time of day, or whether you’re on a call or not… or what we can also set it based on your physical location, so if you’re in the office it will make sure the calls are routed directly to your desk phone, for instance, for a lower cost. If you’re on the road, based on GPS signal, calls will automatically be routed to your mobile device and the user won’t have to go to the trouble of changing the settings.
Jim Burton: Well, that’s certainly a very compelling feature, I’m not sure that I’ve heard anyone else have that, is that somewhat of a unique capability to your solution?
Ron Wellard: Yes, Mitel is pretty much unique there and we offer a range of triggers as I mentioned, so on the Apple device we use GPS and on some of the other device families we actually incorporate the ability to set your Dynamic Status based on Bluetooth proximity as well as Wi-Fi network detection so that’s even additional flexibility.
Jim Burton: That’s great. If I were an iPad or an iPhone user, how would I have access to the application? And I suppose while I’m asking the question, if I was using some other endpoint device, how would I again get access to the applications?
Ron Wellard: The iPhone and iPad clients are available on the Apple Appstore, and you can download them and then you can try them out and then it’s simply a matter of you need the appropriate licensing on the Mitel system and then you can begin using them.
Jim Burton: Wow, that’s great. How about if I was using a BlackBerry?
Ron Wellard: Blackberry and the Android are available on the BlackBerry App World as well as on the Android Market, so you can get that then as well and you can download them over the air and begin using them right away.
Jim Burton: As I see Mitel continuing to move forward in your innovation, what you’ve described is very exciting, but you’ve got to have things you’re looking at and thinking about. Can you give us any insight to where you’ll be taking some of your mobile solutions in the future?
Ron Wellard: Yes, certainly. We see the demands of mobile users continuing to become more sophisticated, so things like video for instance are something that we’re very much looking at in terms of enhancements going forward. We think that the value of the location-based Dynamic Status is something that we can leverage into other values as well and we’re also looking at how we adapt our solutions to be focused more around some vertical applications, so those are things we’re looking at.
Jim Burton: It’s exciting for me to see how Mitel continues to innovate. Not surprised by that because you’ve always led in that marketplace of innovation and particularly when it comes to the endpoint IO devices, so Ron, thank you very much for your time today and sharing with us not only what you’re doing now, but a little bit about where you’re headed.
Ron Wellard: Thank you. My pleasure.
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