Partners create

Ottawa-based Mitel Networks announced last month that it has teamed up with another local firm to forge a suite of IP-based desktop applications that unify audio, video and data communication via a single client interface towards the development of IP-based “drag-and-drop” multimedia collaboration applications.

Kanata, Ont.-based NewHeights is an IP, PBX and IP Centrex communications solutions provider. The company’s partnership with Mitel combines its Desktop Assistant data communication technology with Mitel’s 3300 Integrated Communications Platform, said NewHeights Software CEO Owen Matthews.

The Desktop Assistant Application provides the automatic delivery, installation and maintenance to enable Mitel to integrate its products with third-party audio, video, and data communications platforms.

As part of the partnership the companies have already unveiled the Mitel Networks Your Assistant offering, a PC-based enterprise software application that unifies audio, video and data communications via a single “drag-and-drop” client interface.

While such enterprise collaboration tools aren’t new, said Tony Jenkins, vice-president of applications at Mitel Networks, the attention to ease of use is. “It’s very lightweight at the desktop, which allows us to add applications at the desktop easily through a Web download,” Jenkins said.

Mitel Your Assistant is designed to enable end users to enhance call handling, contact management and multimedia communications – users can manage contacts, initiate drag and drop collaboration audio and video sessions, and set up virtual workgroups, data transfer and document sharing, according to Jenkins. For example, Jenkins said, users can simply drag a contact from Microsoft Outlook into the Your Assistant program to start a videoconference or phone call.

Jenkins said the new converged communications and knowledge management applications target the small- to medium-sized enterprise space – those companies with up to 1,000 employees.

Converged IP telephony applications not only boost desktop productivity, the software’s advanced telephony call control features are integrated with contact management and data collaboration capabilities from business applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes and MSN Instant Messenger, the companies said. Multimedia collaboration is “becoming a hot area, a growth area from a voice perspective,” Jenkins noted, adding that verticals such as legal, health care, education and manufacturing are ideally suited for the technology.

VoIP networks have experienced a rise in popularity for enterprises seeking to simplify voice and data management. Mitel has been touting the productivity and efficiency benefits unique to an IP environment – earlier this year the equipment vendor launched 6010 Teleworker solution, an IP phone system that Mitel claims makes it easy to enable employees to work off site.

While large enterprises are unlikely to switch their entire systems over to IP, Jeffrey Snyder, vice-president and chief analyst at Gartner Group Inc.’s San Jose, Calif.-based Dataquest unit, noted that Mitel’s VoIP strategy has been to specifically target the small business space.

Converged communications systems have typically thrived, Snyder said, at the low end of the market and this is where Mitel wishes to be.

Available now, pricing for Mitel Your Assistant starts at US$70.