There is plenty going on in the Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) world in the third quarter of 2015, including product updates, enhancements, and new releases. A few examples of the power of UCC are examined below.
At the recent Cisco Collaboration Summit, announcements were made about the IX5000, the Project Squared client, and the Cisco Collaboration Cloud (C3).
The IX5000 features theater-quality audio with 18 custom speakers plus a subwoofer with an integrated, microphone array—with 17,502 sound-capturing micro holes—and uses advanced beam-forming technology to deliver crystal-clear audio. The unit is small, easy to install, and dongle-free.
Project Squared is a business collaboration application that combines chat, audio, video, multi-party meetings, and content sharing in a single experience for modern teams. Project Squared is Cisco’s answer to the challenges that many workers face on a daily basis: staying connected across devices, time zones, and project teams. Quickly get up to speed on projects already in progress. Share thoughts and ideas with people both inside and outside the company without violating company security requirements. Project Squared is built upon the Cisco Collaboration Cloud—a new, next-generation platform aligned with Cisco’s Intercloud strategy—to enable these collaboration experiences.
Collaboration Cloud is the server-side software that powers the Project Squared client evolving around and designed to improve the end-user experience. It includes “end-to-end content encryption” as a core security feature of the platform, allowing the client to encrypt every message, photo, and document before uploading. When the client receives the content from the cloud, it receives it in encrypted form and then decrypts it locally. Because of this, content is always stored in encrypted form. It also means that the content cannot be intercepted in unencrypted form at any point in the processing through the cloud. Since collaboration services often end up being islands that are not integrated with customers’ existing premises-based infrastructure, Cisco has incorporated Fusion into C3, providing the ability to combine premises software and services, partner software and services, and C3 software and services together in innovative ways. The Cisco Collaboration Cloud integrates with premises Active Directory, allowing for single sign-on (SSO) and directory synchronization. C3 also integrates with unified communications, enabling capabilities like single-number reach (SNR) to the cloud. SIP and XMPP interoperability are included as first-class capabilities of C3, and the platform includes an easy-to-use administrator and partner portal.
ShoreTel, of Sunnyvale, California, made some announcements in August as well about ShoreTel Connect™, Connect ONSITE and Connect CLOUD CRM integration, and a new contact center called Connect Contact Center™.
ShoreTel Connect™ is a unique, single platform and user interface that provides business communications from the cloud, on site, or a combination of both. ShoreTel Connect changes how companies communicate with a new collaboration experience that unites groups and adapts to individual preferences. With ShoreTel Connect, businesses gain flexibility and customer insights and increase their ability to collaborate with employees inside, as well as partners and customers outside the company—all while lowering IT operating costs and ensuring that what companies select today will grow with them as their needs change in the future.
ShoreTel announced the integration of advanced customer relationship management (CRM) applications with deployments of ShoreTel Connect ONSITE™ and ShoreTel Connect CLOUD™. For the ShoreTel Connect roll-out, ShoreTel focused on bringing CRM integrations to the combined on-site and cloud platform, creating feature parity for customers, no matter which deployment model they elect to deploy. These CRM integrations bring capabilities such as embedded call control, screen pops, click-to-call, and call activity record correlation with business data. By tying organizational communications into core business processes and workflows, these solutions help increase employee productivity, shorten response times, encourage collaboration, and improve customer satisfaction—all while providing faster access to a company’s business data. ShoreTel advanced applications extend core contact center, workgroup, and UC and CRM capabilities and combine to streamline workflows and analytics across multiple business systems, preventing the barrier of silos.
Connect Contact Center™ is a solution scalable to 1,000 users for both ShoreTel Connect CLOUD™ and ShoreTel Connect ONSITE™. Built on the foundation of ShoreTel’s Enterprise Contact Center, Connect Contact Center extends the power of multi-channel routing and deep reporting to ShoreTel Connect CLOUD and delivers a new agent interface for all customers. ShoreTel has integrated previously stand-alone contact center functions into a single, centrally Web-managed, highly available platform.
Cisco and ShoreTel made some of the most important collaboration systems announcements in August 2015, giving value-added resellers new products and releases to offer customers, especially those with hybrid integration needs.
What do these announcements mean to your company? Have your customers been asking for these products? Please comment below.