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Advanced uses of unified communication apps shine

The Avaya Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. opening keynote addresses at VoiceCon Orlando focused on the potential of unified communications, fleshed out with some targeted demonstrations of what that future might look like.

Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy announced his company's new Aura architecture that can connect multivendor PBXs to create a unified Session Initiation Protocol-based network.

He showed how the platform, mashed with Facebook, could be used to create an online sales-support tool. In the scenario, a person seeking a flat-panel TV connected via Facebook video to a salesperson at the TV store. Using presence, the application was able to tell how long the wait would be.

Once the salesperson connected, she knew who was calling and who referred him because when his video session connected, his Facebook homepage was displayed to her.

The application could have brought in other communication modes such as instant messaging, Kennedy said.

When Cisco's CTO Padmasree Warrior took the stage in front of about 1,000 attendees, she demonstrated use of the company's UC gear to connect a man to a doctor's office via a telepresence system that included data links. The speech of the doctor, who spoke Cantonese, was translated into text that was displayed in English at the bottom of the screen.

Later, using a new Cisco telepresence recording feature, the doctor left his prescription. The patient then viewed it on a PC at lower resolution then on a handheld device to show the system's ability to reformat the video to fit the receiving device.

The purpose of the demo was to show the range of applications that can be drawn into the UC platform and that any device can tap into the collaboration, Warrior said. This can enable what Cisco calls boundary-less organizations, she said

She says Cisco uses the system itself to cut costs, realign resources to boost productivity, get closer to customers and give customers a competitive edge. Business travel has been cut by US$1.4 million in one year with collaboration tools, and another $137 million in improved margins resulted from using the tools to shorten the time to close deals.

The ubiquity of access to all network applications and features will redefine work itself, Warrior said. “We don't go to work anymore, we simply do work. The notion of a work day will become work time,” she said.

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