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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Patent Problems for UC Adoption?

The Unified-View – January 26, 2008

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Will Patent Battles For Both Software and Hardware Interfere With UC Progress?

Recent industry news contained a report that Apple and AT&T, along with other communication carriers, were being sued for patent infringement of “visual voicemail” by Klausner Technologies, after Klausner won a settlement from Vonage in October 2007.

The inefficiencies of the traditional Telephone User Interface (TUI) have long been known, and “unified messaging” (UM), one of UC’s main applications, was particularly aimed at alleviating that problem. That kind of integration started at the PC desktop, but with the growth of mobile “smartphones,” has progressed to “multimodal messaging” and other online applications.

Then the second shoe just dropped with a small California company, Minerva Industries, Inc., filing suit against Apple and most of the other mobile handset makers for their newly granted patent on the hardware device design that supports all the different user interfaces of a “smart phone.” However, it doesn’t claim to “unify” or integrate these functionalities at the software level, just incorporates them all in a single handheld device.

So, how many more ”UC shoes” will drop in the complex world of UC hardware and software technologies?

Will “Visual Voicemail” Hold Up In Court?

How will UM fare in the courts? The need to have a better user interface to manage voice messages is certainly not new, having been implemented ages ago starting with the integration of voicemail systems with desktop email interfaces. That basically allowed the email interface to display and provide direct access to information about a voice message in the way that text message information was displayed.

For mobile cell phone users, UM did the reverse; it delivered an email message received by an email system, through the voicemail system, that contained a text-to-speech (TTS) playback of the information about the email message, as well as the text message content itself. This enabled email to be delivered more quickly by using the real-time notification capability of voicemail to proactively place a phone call to deliver new messages, rather than wait until the recipient can check their mailboxes.

Next Generation of “Visual Voicemail” is Already Here!

Now, however, UC, with its flexibility to use presence technology to determine the best way to make contact with a person, as well as allowing the contact recipient to independently choose the messaging medium regardless of what the initiator (sender) will use (text, voice), may also change the visual voicemail game.

With the power of mature speech recognition, visual voice messaging has started moving to greater flexibility and efficiency, through what is known as “voice-to-text messaging.” Offered primarily as a service to mobile users who need relief from the inefficiencies of managing the retrieval of voice message content, voice-to-text messaging allows the caller/initiator to have the convenience of voice input, but then allows the recipient to easily visually review and manage the disposition of the voice message as a text message. (Access to the original recording segment is also available for playback in the event the transcription is inadequate, e.g. a name, foreign word, etc.)

So, the question is this, will this next generation of call and voice message management upstage the old patent for voice mail retrieval, by using SIP and presence to bypass making a phone call attempt first, and relegating voice messaging to simply being a contact-initiator/respondent option for message input on a mobile multimodal device, while all other message management functions converge under the umbrella of next generation UM?

Why Should You Care?

Certainly, if you are a service provider and a patent interferes with your UC service offerings because of either the mobile devices or the software that they will require (servers, clients).

Certainly, if you are a software developer of mobile applications (business or communications) that will be constrained from offering your products on any end-user device.

Certainly, if you are an enterprise UC technology provider and can't exploit seamless use of different modalities on a device-independent basis..

Certainly, as an end user or organization representing end users who will be prevented from enjoying the efficiencies of universal UC innovation at a reasonable price, along with freedom of choice in services and devices.

Comments? Contact me at

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Comments on "ASAP" Business Calls

Copyright © 2008 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

January 30, 2008

Comments On Ending “Telephone Tag” With UC-based “ASAP” Calls

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

In my last column, Adding ASAP Voice Calls to UC,” I described ways to place a phone call that would recognize the fact that callers may want to have a person-to-person voice conversation as soon as possible, but that callees are really not very available, unless that is their job, e.g., as a call center agent for enterprise customers or as an emergency first responder.

In general, business contacts, whether internal to the organization or outside of the organization (sometimes referred to as “information workers”) fall into the category of rarely available. In fact, an old call activity statistic still holds true, that over “70% of calls within an enterprise do not reach the intended party” and result in voice mail messages or a hangup.

Recognizing that fact, the new UC capabilities for both contact initiators (“callers”) and contact recipients (“callees”) should be put to work to make business communications more efficient and effective for both parties. In other words, we should not be playing the old “telephone tag” game with UC and more flexible, personalized, multimodal endpoint devices such as desktop “softphones” or mobile “smartphones.”

“ASAP Calls” Generates Response

Some of my readers responded to the article with practical concerns about how they see exploiting UC for their business phone call requirements. This reflects the need to personalize business UC capabilities at the individual end user level. So, rather than preach the general “Gospel of UC,” here are their constructive comments.



Rather than just leaving voice mail, I'd like a presence-based system that would
automate requests for callbacks based on both parties’ schedules. The caller would
allow caller ID to identify themselves to the recipient and then select two
categories; one for ID category [customer, vendor, employee, etc.] and the other
for their perceived level of urgency.
For example, I could call a vendor and their system would give me the option to
request a callback using voice recognition. I'd ID myself as a potential customer
with a low level of urgency. My system would sync with the vendor's system [I know
I'm dreaming] and eventually put the call through based on both parties’ preferences
[as previously scheduled].
So, if I scheduled my presence setting to accept low urgency calls on Friday
afternoon between 3 and 5 pm, and the vendor was available at that time as well, the
call would be put through without either party doing anything other than answering
the phone and listening to a voice clip regarding the topic.
Doug Baumwall
A.S.A.P. & Siemens:
This sounds very similar to the "Call Back" functionality of a traditional PABX, TDM or IP,
which also tracks the "status" of the particular terminal called. When the called party
either ends his current conversation by hanging up or the called party returns to his or
her phone and makes a call (alerting the PABX) that the user is now "available". This
feature is, in effect, only available to users on the same PABX or PABX’s QSIG networked
together for this specific functionality (very difficult to implement in a multi-vendor
environment. It has never really worked over the Public Switched Telephony Network even
where ISDN is being used.
It would appear that the same issues would arise in the UC world when the same
circumstances are met. SIP presence, for example, can be linked together with telephony
availability similar to the old CTI (either first or third party) associated call control
software with a telephone. However, complex SBCs and SIP trunking are required to, say,
Integrate Company A's presence solution (Microsoft OCS) with Company B's Presence solution
(Avaya SES). These are capabilities which will have to be provided by operators (or some
sort of DNS for presence information).
But there is a very large question of security in this case, as you don't always want to
have your presence information available to all.
Secondly, presence is only as good as the human administering his or her Presence. How
often is the presence information being published by one or more platforms (i.e. telephone,
mobile, email, IM, etc...) collated into a single interface via UC actually wrong. The user
has simply walked away from his or her desk without changing the presence status?
The real usefulness of email lies in the fact that it is effectively both a real-time and
delayed-time mode of communication for which alerts can be presented to a number of devices
different simultaneously (like twinning between your desk phone and your mobile phone). The
"called" party can then evaluate whether or not they wish the communication attempt to be
real-time(immediate answer) or delayed time.
For me, the real effectiveness of UC is the real-time negotiating and transitioning between
the available modes of communication once a connection" or "contact" has been made. An urgent
email to user A, is alerted on his mobile phone as he is out of the office on the road (as
well as his email and IM client's). He reads it and immediately from his device attempts to
set up a call with the sender. The sender is not Available on the phone but is able to message
(email, IM, SMS), the conversation continues in the negotiated mode between the 2 people.
Working in this way, however, (negotiating an agreed upon mode of communication from a
multiple number of modes) is a massive cultural change for the employees of most
organizations. I agree, however, that this will be something expected by my 15 year old son in
5-10 years when he hits the workplace.
Christopher Alderman
Sr. Convergence Sales Consultant
BT Global Services | Telecomlaan 9 | 1831 Diegem | Belgium
T:  | M:  | F: 
E:  | BT Meet Me PIN #


 I have to wonder how long such a system would be in place before vendors, cold-callers,
and other pests invent a way to use it to force their way onto my "desk".

While I certainly support the idea of getting important people in touch with me ASAP, I'm
worried about letting a caller specify their level of urgency. They already manipulate
their Caller ID data to get past blocking filters and social engineer higher level contacts.
Just imagine what they can do with new features and functions.
The features I'm still trying to set up are, "Call Forward - someone who cares" or
"Busy - Go Away!".
 Pete Romfh


“ASAP Calls” - What Do You Think?

I am not sure what users should call a UC-based phone call attempt that won’t necessarily result in an immediate voice conversation, but it sure shouldn’t always end up in “Voicemail Jail” and “Telephone Tag!” What do you think? Let us know what we should this new way of communicating that will be descriptive of what we really want. Send your comments and opinions to


Go to to read my upcoming daily UC Commentary, which critically reviews the important enterprise user developments in Business UC and not just tons of “me too” announcements.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"ASAP" Phone Calls With UC

Copyright © 2008 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

January 19, 2008

Adding “ASAP” Phone Calls To UC

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

With all the flexibility that UC technology is bringing to business communications, we really need to expand our traditional perspectives of making phone calls to have a voice conversation with a particular individual. With wireless mobility increasing individual accessibility, but not necessarily availability, and instant messaging and texting (SMS) encroaching on the need to have voice conversations for real-time contacts, we need to focus on bringing more efficiency to how we insure having a voice conversation in a timely manner.

The Call Appointment

We know the traditional procedural etiquette that requires manual coordination to schedule a call at a certain time at certain contact numbers. However practical that approach may be, it does contribute to the new bogeyman of business process efficiency, “human latency” because it adds two sources of delay.

· The time to set up a mutually agreeable time and contact location. (God forbid, that the appointment has to be rescheduled due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control!)

· The inherent delay created by scheduling the appointment at a particular time in the future, rather than at the earliest moment possible.

Of course, if the subject of the discussion is not time critical, the delay shouldn’t really be of concern; that’s how we organize our time most efficiently. However, if the situation is more pressing, and we have to be more reactive and responsive, then having a voice conversation becomes more time critical.

The Blind, Ad Hoc Phone Call

The telephone has always operated in this mode, where the caller (contact initiator) places the call to phone number (a location), hoping that the recipient’s line is not busy (“unavailable”) and that the person in question is there and able to take the call immediately. Traditional TDM call handling technologies can be employed to enable the call to be completed immediately even if the call recipient is on the phone (call waiting), at a different location or wants to route the call to someone else (call forwarding), or defer the call for a later time because of other priorities (caller ID, call screening, voice messaging, etc.).

If the call couldn’t be accepted immediately by the recipient, then traditional “caller messaging” using the telephone-answering mode of voice mail systems came into play. In addition to accepting a voice message from the caller for subsequent retrieval by the recipient and allowing it to marked as “urgent,” it also allowed the caller to escape from “voice mail jail” and transfer to a pre-assigned extension number.

I don’t know about you, but I have been finding more and more situations where the caller is advised by the recipient’s mailbox greeting to “Please don’t leave a voice message; send me an email!” In addition, pressing “0” to reach a line person often results in an error announcement saying there is no one at that number.

So, what’s a caller to do when they need to talk to a particular person very quickly and they are not really available at that moment? Leaving a message is just not good enough!

Using UC Intelligence to Manage Ad Hoc Calls – “ASAP”

My friend, Rich Tehrani, publisher of TMC media, tried to describe the solution to the above problem as “just in time” communications - he didn’t like “unified communications!”

I privately reminded him that the term comes from the manufacturing industry, where inventory costs can be minimized by ordering material at the last minute, “just in time” to fill outstanding orders on time. On the other hand, you don’t want to have time-critical discussions or deliver important information at the last minute, which could easily cause big problems. Such communications should be completed as soon as possible (“ASAP”)!

In an executive interview a couple of years ago with one of my startup company clients, OnState Communications, they had come up with a business communications service that they called “Pending Communications.” Their approach was to act as a “personal secretary” for an end user who could not accept a phone call at the moment. Rather than simply taking a message, the service would exploit the power of “second generation of presence management” to track the availability of the recipient and coordinate (“orchestrate”) a conference call between the two parties when both were available. I preferred to describe the service as “ASAP,” which tells you what the service will do for you.

Siemens Has “ASAP” Capability In Its OpenScape Communication Suite

My friends at Siemens have long been in the forefront of exploiting SIP-based telephony and presence technologies. In a new article discussing the results of a survey they sponsored of next generation communications users (Generation Y), they highlighted the fact that in order to attract new business staff in the future, organizations will have to support the multimodal flexibility and efficiencies of UC communications that they have grown used to as consumers. (An industry colleague pointed out that factor after I omitted it from my list of justifications for enterprise migration to UC. This is where end user demand for UC is starting to emerge.)

In addition to describing OpenScape’s familiar presence management capabilities to support UC, they mentioned the ability of a contact initiator to set an “Alert” to track the availability status of a recipient and when both parties are available to take a call, automatically initiate the connection. So, I call that an “ASAP” call, which has the following characteristics, suited for UC:

· The contact initiator doesn’t have to specify where the recipient is

· The contact initiator is ready to take the call immediately as well as whenever both parties are available

· The contact initiator will also have controls to manage the limits on keeping an ASAP call active, as well as any alternatives actions.

This is an intelligent and more efficient approach to the use of telephones for voice conversations when there is no guarantee of availability.

Now all we need is the long expected “federation” of such services between users outside of the same organization.

What Do You Think?

Let us know your comments and opinions by sending them to

(I know! If you are like me, who has time to write anything, let alone keep up with all the things to read! )


Go to to read my upcoming daily UC Commentary, which critically reviews the important enterprise user developments in Business UC and not just tons of “me too” announcements.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Rosenberg's "Third Law" To Impact UC

Copyright © 2008 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

January 4, 2008

End User Mobility and “CEBP” To Start Driving Enterprise UC Movement in 2008

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

We all know that IP telephony for real-time voice conversations is rapidly replacing TDM telephone systems in both residence and enterprise markets. It’s just a matter of time. However, the real change in business communications is the move to multimodal “unified communications” (UC), which enables more flexible choice in initiating, receiving, and responding to all forms of contact with either people or automated business process applications.

UC has been slow to evolve until now, both because the technology is still being developed and standardized across both wired and wireless networks, and because personalized, multimodal end user devices to exploit such flexibility are just now becoming available where it counts, to individual end users. The latter started with the big splash made by Apple’s iPhone, last year, but is quickly being emulated by other mobile “smartphones” makers that can handle both voice conversations and all modes of messaging.

Because so many technology pundits have jumped on the UC bandwagon touting vague productivity payoffs and are publishing commentaries on how to do “UC,” I am going to focus on some key enterprise usage perspectives on UC that should really drive UC planning requirements.

In particular, I see the following important UC-related changes taking place in the enterprise market during 2008:

1. Growth in mobile, multimodal “smartphone” device usage for both business and personal contacts and information access. This will enable “anywhere, any time, any mode” of communication contact with people. With the announced moves to “open” mobile operating systems (e.g., Google’s Android) and the elimination of “walled gardens” restrictions by wireless carriers (Verizon) on devices types and mobile application software clients, the way is paved for exploiting change 2.

2. Business process applications increasingly becoming real-time “contact initiators” to specific individuals for time-sensitive, business workflow processes to deliver information messages to those personalized mobile “smartphones” (as well as to desktops). Such messages, in conjunction with application-oriented software clients, can also offer various customized real-time response options, including online transactions or contacts with other people.

3. The combination of these two trends will reinforce “Rosenberg’s Third Law” to increase end user needs to be device-independent and UC-enabled as both “contact initiators” and “contact recipients” in the context of business process applications.

This shift toward converging business process applications and personalized mobility for end user contacts means that UC planning must start with identifying and reevaluating business priorities for UC applications at the individual end user workflow level. Until current and future requirements are properly prioritized, new technology implementations and procurements will not be practical. (See reference to analyzing business process “value chains” for UC at the end of this article under “Farewell BCR Magazine, Welcome ‘No Jitter’!”)

Desktop UC vs. Mobile UC

Clearly, new desktop UC applications are evolving (slowly) because of screen-based, multimodal devices (PC “softphones,” IP screenphones), with the help of the big desktop application providers like Microsoft and IBM, and desktop IP telephony providers like Avaya, Nortel, Mitel, Cisco, and Siemens. However, the more critical shift in demand will come more quickly with new multimodal “smartphones” for mobile business users, who require the flexibility of UC as both contact initiators and contact recipients more than an office-bound user with multiple devices sitting conveniently on the desktop.

Such communication mobility must support ALL contact activity away from the desktop (not just away from the office), and personalized handheld devices, converged for both off-premise business and consumer needs, are a major change from traditional enterprise controlled telecommunications and business application management. Since business users will typically be using both desktop and handheld devices, seamless functional interoperability and interface consistency between them will be important for migration planning.

Business Process Applications As UC Contact Initiators – “CEBP”

The business requirements to increase communication efficiency through the flexibility of UC applies not just to people who initiate and receive business contacts, but also to automated business process applications that monitor various operational activities and critical events that may require human involvement. Just as a remote customer with a problem needs live assistance from “virtual” staff resources, business processes that can monitor and automatically detect problems, have the same requirements to notify appropriate personnel.

Of course, we don’t really expect software applications to initiate and carry on voice conversations and discussions like people do, but delivering time-critical information in voice may be necessary because of the situational needs of the recipient. In addition, automated online transactions may also be carried out using speech input, combined with speech or visual output.

Proactive information delivery to individual users by business process applications, as opposed to people-initiated contacts, was aggressively launched by Avaya with its Communications Enabled Business Process (“CEPB”) technology development. Note that business process analyses and consulting are key to using such technologies.

“Rosenberg’s Third Law” of Business Communications Revisited (Again) – Mobile Information Access vs. People Access

Perhaps the biggest point of confusion in defining business UC comes from the need to access/deliver information quickly vs. the need to access a person. A couple of years ago, I suggested that each of these needs actually would reinforce the other. I called this “Rosenberg’s Third Law” of business communications.

The logic of most business process workflows confirms such a view, because “human latency” in being able to communicate with people has always been recognized as a primary source of organizational inefficiency and poor business process performance. With web portals and mobile devices increasing the speed of information access, the pressure to also speed up access to people will only accelerate.

People “availability,” rather than just “connectivity,” coupled with the growing use of mobile devices and UC multimodal flexibility, is the new metric that business process efficiency will be dependent upon. That’s where the new power of connectivity presence and availability management will become critical, not just internally within the enterprise, but “federated” between people in other enterprises and with consumer customers.

Farewell BCR magazine; Welcome “No Jitter!”

December 2007 marked the final issue of one of the most respected names in the business communications industry, Business Communications Review. Web publishing allows faster, global distribution of information, as well as greater interactivity between readers and writers, extending the value and the life of any published content. This will be particularly practical for tracking the evolution of UC technologies in the enterprise market.

One of the hallmarks of BCR magazine was that it highlighted the objective insight of the best minds in the telecommunications industry, avoiding the hype for particular products or services. We trust that the new BCR web site,, will preserve that tradition of quality, insight, and objectivity. So, welcome aboard!

As noted earlier, No Jitter is also a site that has started publishing a series of excellent articles by UC implementation expert Marty Parker, from UniComm Consulting, on the subject of enterprise UC application value chains for business communications. For more information on evaluating “UC Communication Hotspots,” where new UC applications can provide real value to business processes, please see the first in this series of articles covering the specific needs of different vertical industries.

What Do You Think?

Let us know your comments and opinions by sending them to

I know! If you are like me, who has time to write anything, let alone keep up with all the things to read? Thanks anyway and Happy New Year!