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Alcatel-Lucent aims to ‘change the conversation’ with new UC platform

Products need to reflect changing consumer behaviour, says firm

By Steve Evans

Alcatel-Lucent has revamped its unified communications platform with a series of new products and updated features. The new suite will, the firm claims, enable companies to hold multi-party, -device and -media conversations and aims to move communications and collaboration from a traditional single channel to one that is much more flexible.

Alcatel-Lucent's OpenTouch
Alcatel-Lucent’s OpenTouch in action

Announced during the company’s Dynamic Tour 2011 event, which kicks off in Barcelona and will visit more than 30 countries across the world, the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch suite works across a variety of devices – such as smartphones and tablets – and platforms. Users can hop between devices and can add and remove participants from the call without needing to break the conversation.

Previewing the suite during his keynote speech in Barcelona, Paul Segre, president of the Applications Group at Alcatel-Lucent said users can begin a conversation when on their mobile before switching to their desk phone. New participants can be added to the call by dragging and dropping them in, he said.

It works across Alcatel-Lucent’s Genesys SIP Server and its OmniPCX Enterprise platform, which provides multimedia call processing. It is also controlled from a central platform, offering a single point for all management requirements as opposed to multiple points that are needed to run unified communication suites at the moment, the company said.

In a similar way to Avaya’s Flare Experience, Alcatel-Lucent’s new platform takes a lot of inspiration from the consumer space, with a vast increase in the use of social media, video and personal mobile devices at work forcing companies to adapt their methods.

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During his keynote, Tom Burns, president of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, detailed some of the challenges facing businesses these days: "In 2011 60% of the iPads in business will not be owned by IT, there are 500 billion impressions of businesses posted on social networks every year and soon we will hit the 30 billion mark for connected devices. Seventy per cent of a worker’s day is spent on unproductive collaboration. The conversation has to change so it’s not just about call or email. It has to be multi-device, channel and media. Every conversation has to be productive."

The suite includes the OpenTouch Business Edition, which is aimed at the midmarket section for up to 1,500 users or 3,000 devices. It will be available on-premise or hosted in the cloud. Also available is the Multimedia Services, which the firm says will help existing OmniPCX Enterprise Communications Server customers to transition to the new system. Both of these will be released in June this year. A Federation Services platform, offering consolidation of SIP trunking and dialling plans for multi-vendor PBX environments, will be out later in the year, Alcatel-Lucent said.

Although OpenTouch is available across different devices, Alcatel-Lucent has also released a new desk phone to run the platform. The OmniTouch 8082 My IC phone, dubbed a smart desk phone by the company, is said to offer a combination of employee and customer applications and has a capacitive touchscreen.

Alcatel-Lucent's new smart desk phone
Alcatel-Lucent’s new ‘smart’ desk phone

"Today’s users are accustomed to the powerful experiences delivered by smart phones with seemingly unlimited applications, yet when they use the traditional desktop phone they are in effect stepping back in time," said Nicolas de Kouchkovsky, chief marketing officer, Enterprise, Alcatel-Lucent. "With our new My IC Phone, we extend communications beyond simple voice calls with limited applications into a true multimedia experience with access to a range of applications."

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