Glad To Hear It: 10 New Cool VoIP, Collaboration Products

Collaboration Craze

Hundreds of vendors flocked to the Enterprise Connect event this week in Orlando, Fla., to showcase their latest and greatest in VoIP, collaboration and contact center technologies.

Ranging from new cloud-based applications to desk phones that make even the coolest smartphones look lame, here are 10 new collaboration products worth checking out.

Google Chromebooks With WebEx

While details are still light, Cisco and Google said this week they are teaming up to add more enterprise collaboration apps to Chromebooks.

Specifically, the two tech giants said Cisco's WebEx is being redesigned to work natively on Chromebook browsers, and that Cisco's unified communications applications will soon be integrated more closely with Google Apps. The idea, the companies said, would be to let users launch a Cisco instant messaging service, for example, directly from Google's Contact Card or the Gmail People widget.

Avaya Customer Experience Management

Avaya used Enterprise Connect to showcase its expanded lineup of Customer Experience Management solutions, which include new applications that it said can help businesses centralize and orchestrate all mobile, Web and contact center interactions that happen throughout a customer care cycle.

Among the new applications is Avaya's Proactive Outreach Manager for the centralized management of all outbound communications, including voice, email and SMS alerts. Also new is an updated version of Avaya's Intelligent Customer Routing application that helps contact center agents manage inbound calls more quickly and with more real-time visibility into callers' needs.

Cisco TelePresence MX Series

With the aim of bringing high-quality videoconferencing to offices big and small, Cisco introduced a whole range of new TelePresence products it said will do just that.

For smaller-size conference rooms, Cisco introduced the second-generation version of its TelePresenceMX200 endpoint, a 42-inch unit for embedded four-way multiparty conferencing. According to Cisco, the MX200 has an average deployment time of a mere eight minutes, making it ideal for smaller offices without big IT staff.

For bigger organizations, Cisco launched the TelePresenceMX700 and MX800 endpoints, 55-inch and 70-inch units, respectively, that support H.265, the next-generation video codec.

Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch 2.0

Alcatel-Lucent made a number of updates to its OpenTouch unified communications suite, including the launch of OpenTouch 2.0 and OpenTouch Personal Cloud, a cloud-hosted overlay that lets users pick and choose from a collection of communications apps and deploy them on an as-needed, per-user basis.

Out of the gate, Alcatel-Lucent is offering three OpenTouch Personal Cloud apps: OpenTouch Conference for audioconferencing; OpenTouch Video Store for creating and sharing video content; and OpenTouch Team Share for file sharing. All three applications are accessible via Web browsers on PCs or Macs, or through dedicated mobile apps.

8x8's Virtual Contact Center

8x8 revealed a new partnership with workforce management software provider Teleopti that will combine 8x8's Virtual Contact Center with Teleopti's workforce management offering.

According to the companies, the joint product marries the best of 8x8 and Teleopti's technologies to help call centers streamline their customer support and reduce staffing costs by up to 30 percent. The combined, cloud-based solution, for instance, will leverage call history data from the 8x8 Virtual Contact Center alongside Teleopti's staffing models to help call centers ensure they're fully staffed during peak call times.

Mitel 6800i Series Phones

Mitel made several updates to its UC and collaboration portfolios this week, launching a line of SIP business phones, along with a white-label offering for partners selling its MiCloud Enterprise UC-as-a-Service.

The new 6800i Series phones are based on technology from Mitel's recent merger with Aastra and are designed to support both on-premise and hosted services. According to Mitel, they also include high-res color displays, Power over Ethernet Class reporter, and a more compact package that consists of 100 percent recycled materials.

Separately this week, Mitel rolled out a white-label offering that lets channel partners resell and rebrand its UCaaS offering as their own.

Pexip Infinity

Pexip, a videoconferencing startup established last year by former Cisco and Tandberg executives, launched the fourth generation version of its flagship platform Infinity.

According to Oslo, Norway-based Pexip, the latest version of Infinity is the industry's first videoconferencing platform that lets users share data and presentations with virtually any enterprise videoconferencing end point, Microsoft Lync client, or WebRTC-enabled browser. Also standing out in the fourth iteration of Infinity is a new feature that lets users brand and create their own conference themes, and a Participant History tool, which lets users browse and see who has participated in past meetings.

Digium D45 IP Phone

Digium has grown its family of VoIP phones with the launch of its new D45, a Gigabit-capable desk phone that Digium said is designed specifically for the entry level of the SMB market.

The D45, like the other phones in the Digium family, integrates with the Asterisk open-source telephony platform and with Switchvox, Digium's Asterisk-based unified communications system. The D45 also comes with the Digium Phone App Engine, allowing users to create and run custom apps on the phone using JavaScript APIs.

Snom UC Edition Phones

Snom Technology said this week that its UC edition Microsoft Lync qualified phones can now be managed natively through the Lync Server, without the need for additional servers or provisioning tools.

The move, according to Snom, will let users manage their SnomUC edition phones directly from the Lync server, saving them time and reducing provisioning costs. ’This breakthrough solves a major configuration and customization challenge for customers deploying Lync with voice,’ said Michael Knieling, COO of Snom, in a statement.

CafeX Fusion Palettes

CafeX Communications, a provider of real-time customer engagement software, introduced at Enterprise Connect a tool that lets users extend their enterprise contact center functionality out to mobile and Web applications.

The solution, called CafeX Fusion Palettes, is designed to help organizations provide a more consistent customer experience across all communication channels -- ranging from mobile apps on smartphones and tablets to desktop Web browsers. CafeX said some of the standout features include a new callback option that lets customers request an agent call them back via a mobile app rather than wait on hold over the phone.