Call Manager Honored Again

2011 Unified Communications Product of the Year Award From INTERNET TELEPHONY Magazine

Imagine you’re a tech support expert, contact center agent, sales rep, or an analyst, journalist or executive whose work entails serious, all-day interactions via multiple channels.  You’re on dozens or maybe hundreds of calls a day, constantly referencing internal or external Web sites while juggling chat, tweets, texts, voice mail and email. If that’s your day, you need simple, one-touch access to features on both the phone and PC.              

The phone and PC are sitting right there, side by side on the desk.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they could cooperate to make your day easier?  They can.

With Toshiba’s Call Manager on your IPedge® or Strata® CIX™ or business communications system, your Windows laptop or desktop PC becomes a powerful tool for managing telephone calls, voice mail, Web, email and more, all from a single screen, using your mouse, without ever picking up the telephone.

Call Manager is easy to use because it is based on the familiar interface conventions of Microsoft Office®.  Click a tab to access related features.  Drag and drop to answer calls or send them to voice mail or to someone else.  Right-click to display options for a feature.  Fill in dialog boxes to program your own custom buttons without help from an administrator.

Pretty cool, eh?  INTERNET TELEPHONY Magazine thought so and honored Call Manager with a 2011 Unified Communications Product of the Year Award.  (Call Manager had already received a 2011 TMC Labs Innovation Award from Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.)

We love it when “the IP Communications Authority since 1998™” affirms our development directions — and when they tell 225,000 of their closest friends.

“The editors of INTERNET TELEPHONY have verified that Toshiba’s Call Manager for IPedge displays quality and innovation plus meets real needs in the marketplace,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO of the magazine’s parent company, TMC.  “I would like to congratulate the entire team at Toshiba for their commitment to advancing IP communication technologies.”

The 2011 Product of the Year winners are published in the March 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine (www.itmag.com).

Endpoints: Which Model to Choose?

A simple Q&A framework for choosing the right model for each user/role

If you’re responsible for specifying phones for your facility, you no doubt want to make sure everybody gets the productivity features they need, but not more than they would ever use.  There’s need to buy feature-rich phones for light users or for backup.  No need to buy a high-end phone for a drop-in workstation that will rarely be occupied.  Here are some guidelines to point the way to the right model at the right price point for various user roles.

 

What type of wiring is available for connecting back to the communications system?

  • Digital phones can use existing in-building phone wiring from the phone jack back to the PBX.IP phones are a good choice when there is no existing phone wiring, such as a new or temporary building, because you connect phones using the same Ethernet LAN that serves the computer.
  • To connect using an existing wireless LAN infrastructure, choose a wireless SIP telephone or softphone (a laptop, notebook or tablet PC equipped to perform as an IP phone).To use a secure, closed network using wireless base stations, choose a wireless SIP DECT phone.
  • For remote users, chose IP phones or softphones to connect to the phone system through the IP LAN or the Internet.

Is the endpoint for a power user?

Heavy phone users will be more productive with models that offer 10 or 20 programmable buttons for fast access to calling functions.

Receptionists and others might need add-on modules for 10, 20 or 60 more programmable buttons, with the ability to see who’s busy and transfer the call to them at the touch of a button.

For those who use a lot of phone features, displays make it easy and intuitive with context-sensitive options and step-by-step prompts.

For those who handle a high volume of inbound and outbound calls, unified communications software empowers the user’s PC to dial, answer, transfer calls and more, using the mouse, without ever picking up the telephone.

Anyone who spends a lot of time on the phone will appreciate that most Toshiba phones have integral headset jacks.

Will the phone be used in dim or variable light, or by a user with impaired vision?

Choose a model with an easy-to-read, backlit LCD.  Desktop phones can be tilted to different angles to eliminate glare from windows or overhead lights.  Toshiba cordless phones even have a backlit keypad for dialing in low-light situations.

How much data will the endpoint be transmitting?

Some Toshiba IP phone models support 10/100 Mbps Ethernet connections, sufficient for most meeting and collaboration purposes, screen sharing and viewing screen pops from external systems.  For fastest access to high-speed network connections, choose a model with an integrated Gigabit Ethernet switch.

Is the endpoint for a remote, traveling user?

Soft phones are well suited for road warriors who connect through the Internet in their hotel room or other remote locations.

Personal and company-supplied cell phones can be set up to ring when the desk phone rings, to provide both in-building and external mobility.

A network option called Fixed Mobile Convergence enables a user’s smartphone to function as a PBX extension via the office wireless LAN while in the office and via a cellular network out of the office.

In fact, there are a number of ways you can stay in touch when away from your desk.  Another article looks at simple and sophisticated options for remaining connected and productive, wherever you are.

Endpoints Demystified

A layperson’s guide to the array of desktop and mobile communication devices

Remember when a telephone sat on the desk, didn’t light up, didn’t get carried around, and certainly didn’t talk to the PC sitting right beside it?  If you’re younger than 50, you might not.  In mainstream business environments, digital telephony has been around since the 1980s, mobile workplace phones since the early ‘90s, and IP communications since the mid ‘90s.  It has been a long time since the basic telephone and its cousin the fax machine were the primary means of connecting in the workplace.

Today business users have an impressive range of choice in phones.  In fact, telephones are now so versatile, diverse and smart that they are often called endpoints.  (They don’t like to be mistaken for those soulless, legacy devices that couldn’t do much more than transmit the human voice.)

Facing a new wealth of options in endpoints, how do you make the right choice for yourself?  For employees throughout the office?  For remote or traveling employees?  Here’s a quick look at the first steps to narrowing down the choices.

To what type of business communications system will the endpoints connect?

Where will the endpoints be used?

If the user stays more or less at a desk – whether in a local, remote or home office
A desktop phone with microphone and speaker (with mute options, headset interface and programmable feature buttons) is the logical choice.

If the user needs to roam around the building
Choose a wireless handset or mobile phone that uses your wireless LAN or wireless base stations to connect into the central communications system, such as Toshiba IP4000 wireless mobility phones.

If the user travels to other locations outside your company’s phone or data networks
Choose either: (A) a softphone client (software that empowers a PC to perform the features of a desktop phone), or (B) a network option that enables your smartphone to function as a PBX extension via the office wireless LAN while in the office and via a cellular network out of the office.

Having narrowed down the choice to digital or IP, desktop or mobile, you still have a wide range of choice in features and functionality, to find just the right model at the right price point for each user/role in the organization.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Of all the inventions from yesteryear to today’s super high-tech world, it seems that the telephone is one item that has really made an impact in our everyday lives. So much so that it is almost impossible to even think of not owning one. Much like the television is a staple of almost every household, so is the telephone.

From that first day in 1876 when inventor Alexander Graham Bell made his first call to his trusty assistant Mr. Watson, the telephone has not really changed all that much. I mean, its core purpose and innovation was to be able to pick up the handset and have a clear conversation with another person. In fact, it has just been during the last 30 years or so that technology really fine-tuned the telephone to make it as common as the clothes we wear.

 When the first phones came out, they were solid, very heavy and rugged instruments that were made of metal and wood with trays for pens and a platform for writing pads to jot down notes. The cords were encased in heavy cloth. During the course of time, technological advancements and the consumer’s appetite for more functions prompted telephone makers to start adding useful features such as redial, hold, visual ringing indicator, handset and ringer volume settings and so forth.

 As time progressed and the growing popularity use of using plastics in more and more products became the norm, phone manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon too. Soon, due to its durability, flexibility and low cost, telephone manufacturers started creating molded plastic casings to create lighter models as well as a slew of colors that you may remember from your childhood or grandparent’s home. I don’t know why, but a lot of these colors seemed to come from the food spectrum — lime green, banana-yellow, avocado green, cherry red, chocolate brown, etc.

 Up until 1982 or so, telephones in general have always been pretty much a basic product. But when other technologies evolved, such as the personal computer, fax and printing machines, cellular capabilities, and gaming consoles, that all changed. Not to be left behind, the telephone evolved with advanced improvements for the consumer and business world alike. Now, we have more feature options such as Caller ID, LCD display, speed dial, music on hold, voice mail and a host of other enhancements to make calling your neighbor, or around the world, much easier.

 By the 1990s, we saw the introduction of a telecommunications technology boom where applications that were once isolated, such as email, the Internet, VOIP, and SIP trunking, began to converge.  Slowly but surely, innovators were working to bring more of these value-added applications together to create the “killer-app.” Then lo and behold, the big game-changer came along — the smartphone. Hindsight is 20/20, and we now ask: why didn’t we think of this before?

Today, you can hold, in the palm of your hand, an instrument that will allow you to be truly mobile. You have the power to be available (or not) to anyone, anywhere and at any time. True Unified Communications and uMobility means you can make and/or receive calls, surf the net, receive and send emails, chat, send faxes, pay your bills and so much more.  One can only wonder what an early innovator like Alexander Graham Bell would think if he could see the advancement of his creation. He’d probably say, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

Call Manager 7.5

If you thought we couldn’t improve on the popular Call Manager, well, we did.

We listen to our customers, because you always give us great ideas for ways to keep improving the productivity and ease-of-use of Toshiba communications systems such as Call Manager.  For instance:

  • You said you love being able to quickly do things such as transfer a call or put it on hold by using custom keystroke combinations, but wouldn’t it be nice to have one-touch hot buttons to answer or hang up a call too?
  • You said you love the companion softphone feature that enables a PC to perform as an IP phone, but couldn’t it be built into the Call Manager software instead of a companion app?
  • You said you appreciate being able to minimize the Call Manager window to a compact view when you only need basic functions, but couldn’t it be even smaller at times to free up more screen space?
  • You said you love the option to use headsets through the phone or softphone, but wouldn’t it be nice to use premium headsets that support more functions?
  • You said you love how Call Manager uses events, conditions and actions to handle incoming calls the way you want – but could we support 200 of those custom triggers and actions?

We totally agreed.  The new Toshiba Call Manager 7.5, just announced this week, delivers these capabilities and more.

Call Manager version 7.5 is compatible with Toshiba’s IPedge (EP, EC and EM models) and Strata CIX (CIX40, CIX100, CIX200, CIX670 and CIX1200 systems with Version 5.0 software or higher) for IP business communications.  You can use Call Manager 7.5 in a network that uses systems from both product families, and you can easily upgrade from an older version of Call Manager to Call Manager 7.5 at any time.