August 1, 2013 Mobility, Phone Systems, The Cloud Last October, Gartner predicted that 2013 would be the year that mobile devices overtook PCs as the most common Web access tool. Though we’ll have to wait until the end of the year to learn if this prediction became reality, with the ever-increasing adoption rate of mobility technology, including smartphones and tablets, it’s safe to assume that the race will at least be neck-in-neck. However, although mobility technology can empower businesses to be more productive, efficient and flexible, it can also cause significant headaches for organizations that are ill-prepared to implement and maintain it. One of the most major challenges facing companies that adopt mobility technology is the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) dilemma. We wrote an in-depth article about this hot topic late last year. However, even when organizations have their BYOD policy ironed out, they typically aren’t realizing the full benefit today’s mobility technology has to offer, especially in the world of voice and unified communications. This is mostly due to companies utilizing cell phones and tablets as standalone devices rather than integrating them with their voice platform. Here are just a few ways that you can go “Beyond the Cell Phone” to unleash the full power mobility can deliver to your business: Control Your Professional Identity and Communications: Companies with heavy cell phone users typically run into a few major problems related to maintaining professional identity and keeping company-related communications within the company. Luckily, there are ways to solve all of them! First of all, calls from cell phones do not display a company phone number or name on Caller ID. This can cause some prospects, customers, and vendors to not pick up calls, or form an impression that the company is smaller than it is. Even more problematic is that voice mails received on cell phones can’t be shared with other employees. This often means that important messages get lost entirely or are “lost in translation” when the person who received them passes the message along in a conversation or in an email. For some organizations, the ability to transfer calls and create and join conference calls on the fly is also important. Until recently, communications platforms could not solve this issue either. They could forward calls to cell phones, but once the call hit the cell phone, users couldn’t transfer calls or do anything else they could normally do on their “desk phone.” Moreover, if the user missed the call, it would go to the cell phone’s voice mail, which couldn’t be shared with anyone else in the organization. However, today’s communications technology has completely changed this landscape. Both on-premise and Cloud-based communications platforms make it possible for any cell phone, tablet, or even PC to become a true extension of the phone system. Technologies such as Dynamic Mobility for the Mitel on-premise communications platforms and a combination of “find me follow me” and intelligent softphones on Cloud-based systems enable a user’s cell phone or tablet to take on a company’s Caller ID, utilize company voice mail, and in some cases even take on functionality such as transferring calls to company extensions, and even more advanced unified communicaitons solutions that were historically reserved for PCs only (see the final section, “Delivering Unified Communications “on the go”) below for more detail. Enhanced Business Continuity: When cell phones, tablets, and even PCs can simply become extension from your voice communications platform, it means that your communications can continue, even if your voice and Internet service goes down. Both on-premise and Cloud-based communications platforms have the ability to automatically route calls to cell phones in the event of a carrier services outage. This means that a company can keep communicating when their voice and Internet connectivity is down, without any interruption in service to their customers, partners and vendors. Combine that ability with the capabilities described in the section above, and the transition becomes truly seamless. Cloud-based platforms and on-premise systems that are housed in an off-site data center provide an additional layer of business continuity in the event your company’s physical location is damaged or becomes inaccessible. Delivering Unified Communications “on the go”: Today, cell phones and other mobile devices have the capability to not only become fully functioning extensions of your communications platform, but can also enable you to collaborate and communicate using features such as instant messaging (IM), audio and Web conferencing and more. Today’s mobile users want access to the kind of applications they’re used to in their typical office environment, regardless of what device they’re using to work with. That’s especially true of features such as audio and Web conferencing, instant messaging, corporate directory access and more. Software such as Mitel’s MiCollab Mobile Client enable true presence and collaboration on mobile devices, making the mobile communication and collaboration experience virtually identical to what an “office user” would experience.