Today, September 23, 2009, Mitel announced significant enhancements to its Unified Communicator Advanced (its core UC application) and TeleCollaboration solutions (see press release here).
Unified Communicator Advanced (UC Advanced) release 3.0 features capabilities such as dynamic status, integration flexibility, a launchpad for Web and applications access, knowledge management and context-driven communications, among other new or enhanced functionalities.
The dynamic status capability allows users to dynamically manage their extension in terms of specifying a user’s status with regard to various messages, presence and call routing. It also enables users to treat certain communications preferentially based on user-selected criteria. Finally, it allows users to remotely manage their status.
Further, Mitel’s UC Advanced solution now integrates with Microsoft Office, IBM Lotus Notes and UCA APIs. Calls can be launched from Internet Explorer, Word, Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes or the user’s calendar.
The knowledge management capability provides call recipients with information about callers such as recent emails, contact entries and exchanged documents.
The launchpad allows users to launch Mitel applications from a single access point. Individual contacts can be called with a single mouse click, including creating speed dials that navigate voicemail and conference service menus.
Context-driven communications is another valuable addition. It enables screen pops providing the called party with information about the subject and call priority. It also displays a picture of the caller and allows the user to respond via IM.
Some other UC Advanced enhancements include visual voicemail, secure instant messaging, RSS feeds, easy audio and web conference initiation through the desktop, etc.
The UC Advanced solution scales from small to very large enterprise and can support up to 5,000 users on a single server.
Mitel’s TeleCollaboration solution release 1.5 features integrated video and collaboration capabilities, low bandwidth requirements and high tolerance, and greater simplicity compared to competitor solutions. It offers browser-based collaboration and the ability to participate from anywhere, as well as session and snapshot recording.
With these technology enhancements Mitel is seeking to address some current business challenges such as the increasingly diverse, geographically dispersed and mobile enterprise workforce and the need to manage multiple communication media for greater productivity and efficiency. A plethora of advanced UC and collaboration solutions offered by communication vendors are looking to address the same business needs and challenges. Yet, Mitel has remained at the forefront of technology innovation. While most of the new capabilities are not entirely unique, they are very much in line with industry trends and match or exceed those offered by its competitors. My personal favorites are the knowledge management and context-driven communications capabilities. We frequently go through multiple emails and documents in order to prepare ourselves for a call with a colleague, customer or partner. The tighter integration of such resources into the communication process seems to have the potential to greatly enhance user convenience and productivity. I also believe that the integration of video conferencing with collaboration (file sharing, etc.) is a valuable feature that provides users with a more comprehensive collaborative experience.
What also makes Mitel unique is its consistent focus on the SMB market and its relatively strong competitive position in this space. When combined with the rest of its communication portfolio, these solutions can provide SMBs with capabilities typically available to large businesses only. Given Mitel’s efforts to gain greater penetration into the larger business space, the scalability of these solutions along with the rich functionality provide Mitel with an opportunity to more successfully move upstream as well.