Mitel Says There's an App for That

25 Sep 2011

It's no longer about beer or wine - BYOD now means bring your own device - whether it's an iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android or other device. The notion of "consumerization of the enterprise" means that more and more, workers want to use the consumer tools they're familiar and comfortable with to help them do their jobs. While this is great for end users who get to choose the devices they want to use, it can be a nightmare for the IT staff that may need to support these different devices and deal with security and privacy issues.

Recognizing that more and more organizations now allow - and in some cases encourage - employees to use the mobile device of their choice, Mitel is making is easier for workers to access their unified communication capabilities via these devices. With its latest announcement, Mitel added the Apple iPhone and iPad to its UC Advanced Mobile offerings. UC Advanced provides a single point of access to users' communication capabilities, including voice, video, secure instant messaging, voice messaging, user presence, and audio and web collaboration; UC Advanced Mobile extends these UC capabilities to mobile workers and devices.

Mitel's UC Advanced Mobile already supports BlackBerry and Android devices, and with the addition of the iPhone and iPad, now supports all of the leading mobile devices and operating systems.

The iPhone and iPad are leading the way when it comes to "bring your own device." Several years ago, Apple began targeting the consumer market with its devices, based on the notion that consumers were open to new options, while enterprises were forced to adopt whatever device the IT department selected, and that generally did not include Apple products. Thanks to the consumerization of IT, more and more Apple products - smartphones, tablets, and even laptops, are now a staple in many organizations, as the consumers that Apple targeted brought their devices and computers to work with them. In addition to the iPhone becoming more common within the enterprise, the iPad is quickly replacing laptops. Look around any conference or airplane and you're bound to see iPads (and other tablets) taking over and replacing traditional laptops.

To support the multitude of users in the enterprise, and especially in SMB organizations, using iPhones and iPads, Mitel UC Advanced Mobile for iOS includes a variety of communication and collaboration features the workers need to be productive and effective. Capabilities include searching the corporate directory; click-to-dial from corporate contact list; view missed, dialed, and received calls; and visual voice mail from the iOS devices. It also supports location-based presence, so that the system can automatically update presence status and call routing preferences based on the user's location.

Mitel introduced location-based presence with its BlackBerry version of the UC Advanced Mobile client. As Michael Finneran of UCStrategies pointed out in a nojitter article, Mitel's introduction of the UC Advanced Mobile is the first implementation he's seen that uses location information to change the user's presence status and set calling preferences. Finneran notes that with the UC Advanced Mobile client, "Mitel can use GPS, Bluetooth association, or Wi-Fi recognition to set a user's presence status and identify the device they want to receive calls on; the user can also set those preferences by time of day. By recognizing the Wi-Fi network the mobile device is connected on, we can tell if they are in- or out-of the office or if they are working from home." This is pretty leading-edge stuff.

As with everything, there are tradeoffs, and vendors have been approaching the mobile client in different ways in order to provide the most benefits to their customers. Mitel claims that having a client installed on a particular device lets them leverage the native capabilities of the device for things like location-based presence. While this is certainly a good approach, it has some limitations. Each time the device OS is updated, the client software will also need to be updated.

Bring-your-own-device means that there is likely to be a mix of smartphone and tablet devices used in organization, whether a small- and medium-sized business or a large enterprise. By offering a single software stream that works on the most popular mobile platforms, Mitel is making it easier for end user customers to use the device they want, while being able to access their company's communications tools in a safe and secure manner.

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