Avaya has developed and demonstrated a program that turns a Nokia Series 60 smartphone into an extension on a corporate PBX.
With the Avaya software, the smartphone still uses the mobile network to connect into the PBX, but gains the capabilities of a desktop phone, such as call forwarding, conferencing and abbreviated dialling for other extensions. It also means international calls can be routed via the company's usual low cost carriers, and allows the user to have a single office number for all incoming and outgoing calls.
"The key is routing and managing outbound calls as well as inbound. There are tremendous opportunities to cut the cost of mobile calls inside the office," said Carolyn Nguyen, Avaya's director of global mobility strategy.
Avaya has joined Symbian as a platinum member, but the application is only for Series 60, with no decision yet on versions for other popular Symbian phones such as SonyEricsson's P900. The software is due for release this summer.
The mobile operators don't understand business phone users, Nguyen said, adding that with wireless IP phones now available they need to make it easier for corporates to integrate existing mobile handsets, instead of using their mobile networks to duplicate functions that PBXs already provide.
"They need to understand that the mobile phone is just another communications channel that has to be integrated with the corporate infrastructure," she added. "For example, if you want to apply a policy, such as 'no international calls', how many phones do you have to apply that to individually?
"Nokia understands ease of use, but we understand what enterprise users need. We both call it 'user experience' but we mean different things - that's symptomatic of our differences in perception. Sure, I can do everything I need on my mobile, but that's not the point - the enterprise needs to be able to control all that on behalf of the business."
She acknowledged that using a mobile instead of a fixed extension means using more mobile minutes, but said it would be more local and fewer international minutes. "It's still better for the mobile operators than losing the whole business to IP telephony," she added.
She said that the next step will be to use a converged GSM/Wi-Fi handset, with both communications channels routing through the PBX so you can seamlessly roam from one to the other.
Avaya also announced SIP updates for its IP phones and its Communications Manager, plus a SIP softphone. Nguyen said that SIP makes it possible to add other features such as standards-based presence awareness, and that presence would also converge with mobile phones in future.
"One of the biggest ways to increase enterprise productivity is presence, so everybody's trying to figure out how to use it. It has a lot of implications," she said. "For example, statistics say that roughly 80 percent of IM messages are 'Are you there?', just to check availability for a voice or video call."