Two major equipment manufacturers are offering products designed to allow private branch exchanges to re-route incoming calls directly to workers’ personal cellular phones.
San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is making its Cisco Compatible Extensions wireless client feature available on the Nokia Series E60, E61 and E70 handsets.
Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Avaya has added extension-to-cellular to its Communications Manager platforms, meaning a mobile worker’s Nokia Series 60 handset can be reached by dialing the person’s desk phone. The call would go through the company PBX, rather than over the service provider’s network, said Frank LoVasco, Avaya’s director for solutions marketing.
“If you turn it off, it becomes a standard cell phone,” LoVasco said, adding if a user enables Communications Manager and makes a call, it will be routed through the company PBX, so the recipient will see the caller’s desk phone number, not the cell phone number, on call display.
“That’s a way to keep your personal number private,” he said. “If they call you back on that corporate number, extension to cellular brings that call back out to you.”
Mobile workers are interested in having fewer communications devices, and would rather not carry both a personal cell phone and a work cell phone, in addition to having an office phone, said Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst for enterprise voice and data at Infonetics Research Inc. of Campbell, Calif.
“I call you and that call will be routed to you, one way or another, whether you’re in your office or at home or out on the road,” he said of extension-to-cellular.
Avaya will offer its extension-to-cellular along with its IP soft phones as part of the “Mobilize Now” promotion until Dec. 16.
Using a soft phone over an IP network can allow applications such as presence awareness, where a worker can open a messaging application and determine whether a colleague can be reached by landline, mobile phone, instant messaging or another means, LoVasco said.
“You can actually see if a person is on the phone or not,” he added. “You can see whether I’m logged in or not. If I’m on the phone, I don’t even bother ringing the call, I’ll just send you an instant message.”
Machowinski said 43 per cent of companies surveyed by Infonetics Research are using presence awareness now, and 57 per cent expect to be using it within two years. But he added not everyone is convinced they need it.
“I understand it and I like it, but someone else may say, ‘So what? I see that you’re on the phone (but) what does that do for me?’”
Many companies are combining telephony features such as find-me follow-me, click to dial and unified messaging, he added.