Mitel Series X Announcement – Dynamic Extensions
Today Mitel announced their Series X with Dynamic Extension. Stockpiled with some of the best descriptive marketing I have seen for awhile: “Series X – Where you are should not dictate how you work”, “One Connection, No Limits”; Mitel’s announcement aimed straight at one common industry theme of breaking down the barriers to effective, and cost effective worker mobility.
To summarize the announcement, Mitel Communications Director call control software with embedded Mitel Dynamic Extension solution, gives workers all the mobility and Mitel IP phone features they are accustomed to on any mobile device, over any network, using any carrier in the world. Dynamic Extension allows workers to have up to eight devices, using a single business number, regardless of device type. Whether it is an office desk phone, home or mobile phone or some other device, Dynamic Extension gives the worker access to all of the attributes of a Mitel IP desk phone, from anywhere (without requiring an IP phone).
Dynamic Extension allows traditional Mitel hot desking to extend to any device including third-party PBX extensions. It also allows a user to have a personal ring group (PRG) of up to eight devices and enables them to ring all at the same time with presence capabilities. Individual phones can be excluded with one key press. Due to a call recognition feature, once in the system, users have full access to all phone features without having to key in feature codes, and can access their voicemail mailbox without a PIN. The user also has a choice of having all devices shown as busy when they are on the phone (one busy, all busy) or just the device they are on, so that other calls can come in (one busy, one busy). In addition, Mitel claims that Dynamic Extension doesn’t provide a GUI on the mobile device, but allows the user to use the device the way they normally do.
Other features include group presence, which allows members of groups, such as hunt, ACD or PRG to make them absent or present in a group. If they are absent, they don’t receive calls in that group. Dynamic Extension also has a hand-off feature for PRGs that allow calls to be “pushed” or “pulled” between the devices of that ring group.
As the slide below shows, as part of the solution, dual mode fixed mobile convergence (FMC) lets workers roam across cellular and Wi-Fi networks, and the software allows users, with a single button, to hand off a call to any device of choice.
Mitel stressed no limitations, with users being able to choose the lowest cost network access no matter what location they are in, having one number and one mailbox, accessible on multiple devices. Finally, there is no server hardware or client software required.
In the announcement briefing Mitel hit upon many of the pain points that organizations have with worker mobility including:
Costs of IT running both fixed and wireless networks
Costs of provisioning workers with the latest mobile devices, and increased support costs for IT
Charge backs from workers using unsupported or perceived lowest cost channels of communication while out of the office
Here is what I liked about the announcement. It clearly addresses the issues that the industry has been designing around, which is increased mobility of workers, no matter where they are, whether that is someone traveling around the world or down the hall. We have seen numerous announcements in this area in the past months/years including the bigger players such as Cisco and Avaya with their ability to ring multiple phones simultaneously.
From a cost and complexity perspective it enables users to keep the phone they want to use without IT having to standardize and provision new mobile phones, for example. This also eliminates the depressing fight that people often have with IT when they join a new company and don’t want to give up their existing mobile phone or carry two. Plus it solves the problem of employees making choices of which phone service to use when out of the office, and then billing back the company for the charges.
For Mitel customers it extends the life of their existing equipment by providing customers with a mobility solution without having to upgrade their key systems or PBXs. This might even be a boon for some segments of the market, such as existing Centrex customers with minimal feature sets. It also lowers costs to a point on numerous fronts, including roaming charges, adding new devices, etc. Mitel has also positioned the solution as “Legacy Rescue”; by saying that with one Mitel gateway you will never have to buy another phone again, and can deliver Mitel features over legacy phones in non-Mitel environments.
I really liked that once a user is into the system they don’t have to use feature codes or PINs, which should greatly simplify use, as well as the amount of devices that can be put into a personal ring group. Plus, it is really slick to be able to call out on any device and have your one business caller ID displayed, no matter where the call is generated from.
However, this solution isn’t going to be a panacea for everyone. Whereas Mitel hit on the pain points of mobility, it doesn’t necessarily eliminate all of them. For example, roaming charges can be reduced, but not done away with, as even their PowerPoint charts showed. Plus it doesn’t guarantee that when a user is traveling abroad and gets to their hotel room that they will have an easy time gaining access to the hotel’s WiFi, etc.
There is also the issue of what presence really is. For example, when Mitel Communications Director is working with Mitel phones, then it’s more likely that it’s integrated with OCS, ala unified communications presence as we know it. But when Mitel says that this works with any PBX, is it really integrated with OCS? In either case, when Mitel says that there is no GUI on the phone as with a Mitel client, then isn’t “presence” just if a person is on or off the phone? It is a tad confusing.
Also, whereas I like the solution for the above reasons, it’s not completely new to the industry. They do have some competitive differentiators with this product, such as no feature codes or pins, no requirements for the user to have an IP phone to twin other devices with, but other vendors, such as Cisco and Nortel, have numerous similar pieces of the mobility puzzle in place. Customers are going to have to really compare to see what they are getting from Mitel versus contenders.