Zultys 36G IP Telephone Available Today

Now available from Zultys: affordable, functional gigabit telephony with the 36G.

Great new phone from Zultys: the 36G

Affordable Gigabit SIP telephony from Zultys

G’d Up From the Feet Up

Designed to replace the Zultys 35i and compete with the cut-rate gigabit SIP offerings from companies like Polycom, Snom and Cisco, the dual Gig port 36G is compatible with any SIP-friendly telephone system or hosted product. It works especially well with the Zultys MX250, MXSE, MXvirtual and Zultys hosted / UCaaS options.

36G LCD

The phone features a 3.7″ graphical display and 8 softkeys for choosing on-screen menu options. The screen is 240 x 120px and supports XML and an XML browser. In addition, the phone supports LDAP based contact directories.

But how many buttons does it have?

Replacing the paper button labels of primitive telephones, the 8 screen-adjacent softkeys are digitally labeled for up to 21 speed dials and features for ease of use and instant gratification when you make a change to your phone.

That is not enough buttons. I want all the buttons

Ok. We heard you. You can add up to 6 of the 340M expansion modules if you need yet more buttons. That can take you up to 228 LCD-labeled programmable keys. Keep in mind there are 11 dedicated feature keys AND a 4-way Nintendo-style directional pad with selection button AND 4 additional softkeys that let you navigate on-screen menu options. At some point we need to leave room on your desk for a coffee mug.

I am satisifed with the buttons. But what about how calls sound?

The speakerphone is full duplex for talking over each other on a call. Speakers are wideband HD. The audio is nothing less than exceptional.

Alright what does it cost

This phone is competitive with the Polycom VVX310. Contact sales@teamextenda.com for a quote.

What else?

  • 802.3af power over ethernet support – use off the shelf PoE components. Nothing crazy here.
  • Supports VLAN, DSCP, QOS
  • Paging, auto-answer support
  • Call park, pickup
  • Supports the Zultys EHS. The EHS is the Electronic HookSwitch. This is a device you can use to connect to a Plantronics, Sennheiser or GN Netcom/Jabra wireless headset so you can pickup and disconnect calls by pressing a button on your headset while you are away from your phone.
  • Find the brochure here

Coca-Cola drops voicemail

No Jitter, one of my favorite telecom blogs, reported that Coca-Cola recently deleted 94% of their corporate voicemail accounts. What is missing from the article is the fact that Coca-Cola is on a Microsoft Lync system, where voicemails are stored on the Exchange Server (making it into a Microsoft case study.) I am certain that Coke’s IT team was thrilled that they didn’t have to deal with tens of thousands of voicemails every day getting stored on their servers.

That quibble doesn’t change the core issue that voicemail is potentially on the outs in the US. Vonage reports year over year declines in voicemails being left even as usage increases – not only do we all hate checking voicemail, we hate leaving voicemail too. Overseas, we do not see the same rate of voicemail implementation as we use here in North America. For example, Chinese cell phones rarely have voicemail included and users prefer texting in any event.

For customers, we can offer a variety of choices. For Mitel MiVoice Office 250 (former Mitel / Inter-Tel 5000) customers, the voicemail is baked right in, so whether you turn the voicemail on or off is just a matter of preference. Same goes for the Zultys MX systems – both it and the MiVoice Office have not just built in voicemail, but built-in Unified Messaging, where voicemail messages are sent to email accounts. Same goes for our cloud offerings, where voicemail is included.

For the Mitel MiVoice Business and our NEC systems, voicemail is entirely optional. Now, keep in mind that with the MiVoice Business, we would still want to add some voicemail capabilities in order to provide automated attendant functionality. In most phone systems (our NEC DSX and NEC SL1100 systems are exceptions) the automated attendant uses the voicemail to store and play messages to callers.

If you do forgo individual voicemail, I would suggest the following tips so that customers know you have not gone out of business.

  1. Forward calls after hours to an automated attendant greeting that states your hours of operation and directs callers to your website or an email address
  2. Use Google Voice and forward calls from your main number to back up cell phones after, say, 4 rings (24 seconds).
  3. Barring using the Mitel voicemail transcription service available for the NuPoint Messenger, consider using Google Voice’s excellent transcription service to copy voicemail to email as text via a company-wide, shared voicemail.
  4. Consider using ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) to play custom messages and hold music to callers instead of ringing when they call a main line. Then, after a preset amount of time, play a custom message directing callers to your website or email. This provides a far more professional image to callers, and can be accomplished pretty inexpensively with all of the systems we sell.

Zultys, you’re the real MVP

LA Kings captain Dustin Brown hoisting the Stanley Cup

LA Kings captain Dustin Brown hoisting the Stanley Cup

Los Angeles Kings and Zultys: Champions of the Universe

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Looks like the press loves Zultys’ cloud offerings as much as we do.

tl;dr – Zultys cloud solutions are just as awesome as the award-winning premise version – in fact, it is the same core software and features.

Zultys has a single software stream of solutions – that means whether you install a phone system in your office in a Zultys server, run Zultys on VMware, throw Zultys in your data center, use Extenda’s data center, use Zultys’ data center, or just rent the system from Extenda, Zultys or another vendor, it is the exact same multi-media unified communications system, with the same features and interoperability between locations.

Below is the press release regarding the various 2015 Product of the Year honors won by Zultys.

“Zultys, a leading provider of innovative unified communications solutions that empower businesses to collaborate effectively, has been awarded top honors by TMC, a global, integrated media company. Zultys’ MXvirtual, an integrated unified communication solution and IP phone system in a VMware®-Ready virtual appliance, was named a 2014 Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award winner.  Meanwhile, Zultys Cloud Services—fully-hosted turnkey Software as a Service (SaaS) offering—was recognized as both the 2015 INTERNET TELEPHONY Product of the Year as well as CUSTOMER Magazine Product of the Year Award recipient.

In 2014, Zultys introduced the cloud-based version of their award-winning MX IP-PBX platform; MXvirtual brings all of the advanced functionality of premise-based MX solutions to the cloud. Zultys Cloud Services, which launched towards the end of the year, makes deploying a Zultys Business Phone System easier than ever in a Software as a Service model with Zultys providing their users with a fully hosted highly advance business phone system. Zultys Cloud Services extends the power of Zultys MX enterprise grade IP-PBX into a fully hosted solution, while preserving the exact same experience regardless of the platform. Zultys’ cloud-based and premise-based phone systems share exactly the same user client and administration interfaces, simplifying training and making it easy for users to transition from a premise-based system to the cloud if necessary, as well as allowing businesses to mix and match premise and cloud systems within the same organization. Despite various different deployment options, the premise-based MX phone systems, MXvirtual and Zultys Cloud Services offerings boast exactly the same feature set including: chat, IM, presence, auto attendant with IVR, sophisticated contact center functionality, smart phone integration, outbound dialer application, 3rd party integration and much more.

“Hosted IP phone systems offer businesses unmatched convenience and ease-of-deployment, but often at the price of advanced functionality. Zultys aims to create a universal experience for all of our users regardless of whether they are utilizing a premise-based MX system or are hosting their phone system in the cloud. We are proud to see our efforts recognized by such reputable publications,” said Steven Francis, chief sales and marketing officer at Zultys.

2014 Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award

TMC named MXvirtual as a 2014 Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award winner.

The Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award, presented by Cloud Computing magazine, honors vendors with the most innovative, useful, and beneficial cloud products and services that have been brought to market in the past year.

“Recognizing leaders in the advancement of cloud computing, TMC is proud to announce MXvirtual as a recipient of the Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “Zultys is being honored for their achievement in bringing innovation and excellence to the market, while leveraging the latest technology trends.”

2015 CUSTOMER Magazine Product of the Year Award

Zultys Cloud Services was declared 2015 CUSTOMER  Product of the Year Award winner.

“On behalf of both TMC and CUSTOMER magazine, it is my pleasure to honor Zultys with a 2015 Product of the Year Award,” saidRich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “Its Cloud Services solution has proven deserving of this elite status and I look forward to continued innovation from Zultys in 2015 and beyond.”

The 17th Annual Product of the Year Award winners will be published in the January/February 2015 issue of CUSTOMER magazine.

2015 INTERNET TELEPHONY Product of the Year Award

Zultys Cloud Services was also a recipient of a 2015 INTERNET TELEPHONY Product of the Year Award.

“It gives me great pleasure to recognize Zultys with a 2015 Product of the Year Award for its commitment to excellence and innovation,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “In the opinion of our distinguished judges, Cloud Services has proven to be among the best communications and technology solutions available on the market. I look forward to continued innovation from Zultys.

The winners of the 2015 INTERNET TELEPHONY Product of the Year are featured in the 2015 January/February issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine and online at www.itmag.com.”

Going Cordless with a Mitel or Zultys Telephone System

Yealink W52P Cordless

Yealink-W52P-cordless

Affordable, easy-to-use cordless phone for Mitel and Zultys telephone systems.

Yealink W52P is both SIP and DECT, providing you with a great combination of acronyms. The base stations connect to your IP network and register phones as SIP devices. This allows us to use them with the Zultys MX-250, MX-SE, MX-30, MXvirtual and Zultys hosted systems, as well as the Mitel MiVoice Business (3300 / MCD) and Mitel MiVoice Office (5000 HX/ 5000 CP/ 5200). You could also just register them with a SIP carrier if you just need a very small office or home office solution.

The wireless communications are using the DECT range, which is better than standard 5.8GHz cordless phones. DECT offers superior range (as much as 300′), lower power consumption for longer battery life, encrypted communications, and uses spectrum not occupied by other devices for clearer conversations.

Funny aside: DECT in the USA is called ‘DECT 6.0’ for the sole reason that American consumers had seen a steady progression of cordless products of higher and higher range – from 900MHz to 1.8GHz, 2.4GHz, and later 5.8GHz. While DECT operates at 1.9GHz frequency, there was concern that it would appear inferior to other, higher spectrum cordless devices. (Hat tip to Wise Geek).

Each telephone can connect to 4 base stations, and each base station can support 5 telephones. This allows you to put base stations around your office to expand the range of the telephone across multiple base stations, so you can wander around your office on the phone, looking very busy and important.

yealink-W52-Color-Screen

Lovely screen to interact with

The handset has a color display and can do all your basic office phone functions like transfer, hold, conference and indicate if you have voicemails via the color display and interactive keys.

The unit takes a standard 3.5mm corded headset. This allows you to use those iPhone 3G ear buds you have lying around, connect to your wireless Yealink office phone, and get a wireless headset that can finally transfer calls and put calls on hold while you wander around. Because the Zultys system allows users to associate 4 phones with each user, you can assign a desk and cordless phone to VIPs and operators that have a need to get up and move throughout the day. Zultys eliminates the confusion of having multiple extension numbers for the same user by assigning multiple phones to users.

yealink-w52p-Conference-call

Conference calling is very easy on the Yealink cordless telephone

Affordable Desktop Unified Communications

Dogs need UC tools too

Mitel Phone Manager and Zultys MXIE

Zultys MXIE Unified Communications UC

The MXIE desktop interface really makes it simple to communicate using nearly any media

Small- and medium-sized businesses, non-profits and government organizations throughout Los Angeles and Southern California are in luck! The Mitel Phone Manager and Zultys MXIE are on sale today for your Mitel MiVoice Office 250 (former Mitel 5000, 5200, 5400, 5600, and 5000 HX variants count too) and Zultys MX-30, MX-SE, MX-250 and MXvirtual systems, respectively. Several licenses of each desktop software are, as of the time of writing at least, bundled in with the purchase of a new system, so you can roll out advanced features to power users and VIPs right away.

Extenda also sells enterprise-grade Unified Communications software for large deployments, with the Mitel MiCollab software being the most popular for the MiVoice Business (former 3300 and MCD). I would argue that the Phone Manager and MXIE UC clients are as good or better than competitors such as Microsoft Lync, at a fraction of the cost. Not to brag, but deployments on Mitel Phone Manager and Zultys MXIE take hours instead of weeks, and you don’t need multiple servers to get them to work. Zultys doesn’t even require an external host computer – the MXIE runs right off the physical, virtual, or cloud-based system appliance.

Mitel Phone Manager provides users with desktop control of their calls and messages with an easy to use Unified Communications interface

Mitel’s Phone Manager allows you to control your status. This lets coworkers know where you are and tells the phone system where to send your calls.

What UC Means to Me: Presence

Cutting through the marketing hype, I will use myself as a (very, very biased) case study, so you can see how I use my MXIE UC client to make my work life better. I can see in Outlook and on MXIE what everyone in my company is doing – are they available, on a call, logged out, in a meeting, etc. I can then choose to text someone who is on the phone, or call them if they are around, or send them a voice message they will hear later, or email. I have access to all of these options through MXIE or through Outlook – just hover over a user’s contact or email address.

Mobile Integration and Find Me-Follow Me

When I need to get up from my desk – rare, but it happens – I change my status. Having created what are called ‘Find me / Follow me’ rules, I can decide how I want my calls to get routed. If I am ‘In a Meeting’ calls should go to voicemail, but if I am ‘At Lunch’ calls should try my cell phone and then ring a backup coworker in the office.

An advantage of this type of call forwarding is clear to a mobile salesperson, field technician, plumber, on-site consultant or any other classic road warrior type of worker. You get your calls wherever you are, without giving out your cell phone number to everyone in your life. But there are huge benefits to office workers as well – you can transform your cell phone into a cordless office phone. Everyone knows how to play music and Words with Friends on their smartphone, but leveraging office WiFi allows you to make and receive office calls from anywhere in the building or out, without impacting your voice and data plan. If you have ever shopped for a cordless office phone, you probably know the sad truth that prices start at $200 a device and climb steeply if you need multiple antennae or access points.

Collaboration and Conference Calls

Conference Calling has been solved by Zultys

The Zultys MXIE conference call feature could not be easier. Automatically integrate new conferences into your Outlook calendar to block off time and set reminders. Send formatted conference invites out like a pro. Drag and drop participants into a call too, for on-the-fly conferencing.

Conference calling and collaboration are increasingly vital parts of my work day. I even have to pay attention during these calls now, instead of putting my phone on mute and surfing the internet, protected by my blocked off calendar time labeled ‘conference call’ – ah the good old days. Setting up a conference call continues to be either painful or expensive for most companies. UC desktop software solves this riddle – just a few clicks and you have a conference set up, you sent out the invites with automatically formatted instructions, your calendar has the time and instructions blocked off, you get a reminder on MXIE, and if someone throws you a curve ball and wants to join last minute, just use your mouse and drag their icon or call into conference. They enter the PIN and you look like a hero.

Collaboration always means desktop sharing and video. The Zultys product provides all of the above out of the box with a few MXvideo licenses included in every system. There is an optional add-on, the MXconference, that can allow you to expand your conferencing to hundreds of users for webinars useful for internal communications, sales, training and showing off your new haircut to everyone you know.

Zultys MXIE video calling

Make video calls and desktop share with MXIE

Inspired Laziness

Instead of reaching for the phone, I just click my MXIE interface when a call comes in. I can, with my mouse and/or keyboard hotkeys, transfer calls, send calls to voicemail, park and hold calls. Yes, this is easier than lifting up the phone – my hands are always on a keyboard and this makes it easier to stay in a productive groove. At a glance, I see all the calls active on my phone too – this is another item that has bedeviled phone users for 30 years. Juggling multiple calls when I just had some red lights and a tiny display was never easy. Everyone over age 30 has likely answered the wrong line with the wrong name, dropped calls, transferred calls to the wrong person, and otherwise let your callers know that you are a bit of a phone klutz. Now, you can just drag and drop calls to other users, see the caller ID, and basically have no excuse for hanging up on anyone.

Dialing out is just as easy. Now you can simply highlight a number and hit a hotkey in any application on your computer. Whether on a webpage, Outlook contact, email signature or in a PDF, if you can highlight the number, we can dial it. This is especially helpful for environments where, if you are like me, you might have a list of people to call back at set times when your schedule opens up. You can make a spreadsheet and just knock out a bunch of calls in a row without touching your phone.

Softphones and Smartphones and Operator Consoles

Both the MXIE and Mitel Phone Manager transform into a full-blown telephone – just add a USB headset if you want some privacy. This saves you money over deploying physical phones throughout the office, as you not only avoid the phone itself but the Power over Ethernet switches and electrical power costs. It also let’s you skip cabling, as it will work over a computer’s WiFi connection, or skip out of the office. For years, we sold a second IP phone to managers as a home office phone, but with softphones, this is largely unnecessary as it is more convenient to have a license on a laptop, tablet or smartphone, though perhaps not as impressive for guests. The MXIE even runs natively on Mac and Linux, in addition to Windows. The Mitel product is limited to Windows.

Mitel Phone Manager can function as a telephone

Mitel’s Phone Manager transformed into a phone, as if by magic

The MXIE offers a smartphone app for Apple iOS and Android phones and tablets that fully integrates the majority of desktop UC functions into the palm of your hand. Calls can be sent to the app rather than the cell phone functions, so you can retain full system features such as hold, transfer and conference. These mid-call features are available with the Mitel through the basic system and accessed via touchtone keys rather than touchscreen.

Interestingly, the MXIE doubles as an Operator console without additional licensing, so full-time receptionists can take advantage of the UC features. The system provides a full set of user tiles for easy access to everyone’s status and better capabilities for handling a high volume of calls. A similar product from Mitel is called the Attendant Console, which is separate from the Phone Manager. The Attendant Console, however, allows for Attendants to also make a limited number of programming changes to the telephone system.

Microsoft Outlook and CRM Integration

The best part of UC is that it can save you time. With optional licensing, we can integrate your MXIE or Phone Manager to Salesforce, Outlook, Act!, Goldmine, MS CRM and Dynamics, and many other popular CRM packages. There are APIs and SQL integration available too, as well as the ability to use GET commands to integrate to other web-based packages. Why do you care? Because we can open a customer record automatically when they call in or you call out, we can open a ‘new record’ when an unidentified number comes in, and overall, we can make it easy for you to improve the quality of customer interactions while cutting down on the time spent on data entry.

The Zultys offers out of the box integration to SalesForce or a Flex Communicator license that allows integration to a host of different CRMs. Mitel Phone Manager’s core strength is the number of out-of-the-box integrations it has with different CRM packages.

Mitel Phone Manager integrates with just about every CRM you can imagine

Screen pop just about anything you can think of with the Mitel Phone Manager’s CRM integrations.

Costs and Deployment

Costs vary by system and how many users you have on the system, as we can bundle licenses together in bulk purchases, but in general, I would budget for about $200 per seat, about the same cost as three months of a SalesForce Pro subscription or a single license of Act! Pro 2013. However, both systems have starter kits that include a number of these UC seats, so often customers find that they don’t need to purchase seats a la carte. Compare these costs to Lync – upwards of nearly $2500 in the first year!

Cutting the cord

Webinars that Raise Your Blood Pressure

I sat in on a webinar today from Aruba Networks, a well-respected manufacturer of wireless network gear. We use Aruba for wireless deployments that involve over, say, 20 users, so I was shocked when today’s webinar on “Cutting the last cord” was actually an hour long pitch for eliminating wired networks by moving to Microsoft’s Lync for your telephone system. Moving away from the desk phone is something I am passionate about, but not by getting in bed with the company that fleeced all of us for decades and were guilty of monopoly abuse of market share. It was like finding out that person you were flirting with at the bar was not only married, but married to the jerk that stole your lunch money in junior high.

Cutting the telephone cord

Cut the telephone cord and just have a broken piece of junk in your hand or the first real taste of freedom in your life as an office drone

I understand Aruba’s angle on this – if people buy the premise that you no longer need cables in the office, they would be required to load up on the wireless network hardware and software that Aruba sells. And I understand Microsoft on this too: Cisco right now owns the corporate enterprise network space, and Microsoft Lync has probably picked off all the easy wins at the enterprise telephone system level with companies that are end-to-end Microsoft. They are hitting the wall many manufacturers have slammed up against: the network guys in very big companies are all Cisco-certified and have invested their entire careers in learning Cisco IOS commands, Cisco’s oddball corruptions of industry standards like SIP, and in trying to breathe life into the Frankenstein monster of acquisitions that is a Cisco voice network. (Full disclosure: I flog my new technicians to earn their CCNAs and deploy Cisco switches in most greenfield installations.) If you can convince the C-suite that they can save money by dumping all of those switches and wires, the Cisco ‘one neck to choke’ value proposition falls apart.

Side note: I got a good chuckle at the fact that Aruba is using PRIs (for non-phone geeks, this is quaint, traditional land line technology) with their brand new Lync implementation and claiming $2M in long distance savings from Lync. I take it this means that the savings was found by stitching offices and remote workers together over the internet, the low hanging multi-office fruit that is a 10-15 year old technology solution. So, yes, the savings was from Lync, like my car’s groundbreaking feature of brakes has made it possible to decelerate.

Cutting the Cord

When I started in this industry in 2004, I had a dream. I had a dream that one day, little companies across Southern California would throw their desk phones in the garbage. They would use the Inter-Tel 8602 softphone, a cool piece of software featuring a handy dandy USB dongle hanging out of the PC or laptop. This softphone would, in my feeble, millennial brain, make it super fast to install a phone system, and make life so much easier for companies since they wouldn’t need PoE switches or to worry about programming phones for users. I pitched it over and over again, first with the Inter-Tel Axxess, then the Inter-Tel 5000, all throughout the aughts. All that fishing, and not one bite.

But We Like Our Phones

The feedback from customers made me feel a bit of deja vu to my time in Little League where I hit a lot of foul balls and lead the team in strike outs. So close, yet so far. CFOs and owners saw the cost savings and forward thinking sales manager types liked the deployment flexibility. IT managers with rooms full of desktops running XP on 1-2GB of RAM were ice cold to the idea. Here was a mission critical piece of software on their virus-plagued, under-powered PCs, and they did not want to take the risk even to save about $100 a seat on hardware costs. There were practical problems in the demo, also, such as an inability to hear the phone ring unless you wore the headset. Oh and speaking of sound… these economy class Dell and Gateway desktops didn’t even have sound cards and sometimes did not even have spare USB ports. So much for my per seat savings projections.

Umbilical cord

Telephone cord or umbilical cord? And who is the baby? Is this just a pretty gross picture I am using to shock? YOU MAKE THE CALL

And yes, many managers liked phones. They had an emotional attachment to their desk phone. Their computers crashed, their computers frustrated them, the IT guy was perceived often as a cocky, smelly wizard they hated and maybe feared. Phones? Reliable. Old school. A holdover from their early career. My grandmother even told me once “Businesses will always need phones.”

Businesses of the world, go softphone! You have nothing to lose but your cord!

You will not drown.

Business infrastructure is up to snuff for softphones for the most part.

Fast forward to 2014, and we have a confluence of a few trends that are making it impossible to consider installing an office where everyone gets a desk phone.

Oddly enough, IP phones are a culprit. The secret is out – they are expensive to implement. You have to replace your switches with Power over Ethernet switches, the dreaded PoE upgrade. Your network probably sucks if you haven’t moved to VoIP by now, so assume a technician will be fiddling about in your server closet for an hour or two. And often your cabling is funky. For LA-area startups, there is no cabling, they went wireless only to save precious capital from the start. So that $100 a seat savings in 2004 for a softphone as a best case scenario just exploded into a $250+ per seat savings, because all you are doing is adding software and a license to a desktop connected over WiFi, versus a network overhaul plus phone.

Desktop computers have gotten better too, of course. Minimum specs on Macs and even entry level Dells and HPs are 4GB plus a built in sound card. The shift to laptops didn’t hurt, with relatively sophisticated audio speakers and microphones bundled in. Computers are far more stable – as much as I am a professed Apple snob, the Windows 7 laptop I bang around on at home for gaming and Office hasn’t crashed more than a handful of times since I bought it a few years ago. So we can run streaming audio services like softphones reliably, and we don’t freak out about a daily CTRL-ALT-DEL like we did a few years back. So IT managers are more comfortable with voice on their network, and their networks are better suited for streaming as we moved to gigabit switches and cloud-based applications.

Ubiquitous softphones and tablets have also helped my dream become reality. We have all accepted that we have these phones in our pockets that sound awful on a phone call but are otherwise more or less magical to the lay person, with capabilities beyond anything we could have imagined just a few years ago. Strikingly, the only feature that has not improved with cell phones is the audio quality of a cell phone call. This has trained us to be content with choppy, static-y calls, and thus not mind the occasional audio weirdness from VoIP connections. It also means we all carry awesome computers in our pocket all the time, computers begging to have an app loaded on them, an app that is just an extension of your office’s telephone system.

Let’s not ignore this guy

Elephant in the room

Fact: The telephone is not quite as indispensable as it used to be

We don’t make phone calls like we used to. There are whole departments in businesses that seem to hate using the phone, and a whole generation of people – my generation – that prefer text and SMS and IM and Facebook Messenger and GChat and Snapchat and even email to communicating via voice. I can’t even remember the last time I called a friend for anything. In fact, when my phone rings at night or on weekends, it usually means someone died or a system crashed, so I probably have a pretty terrible phone demeanor in my free time. All that said, some roles, transactions, industries and circumstances will always be better served by real-time human voice, so I am not holding a funeral for the phone. I am saying that it was easier to justify spending hundreds of dollars per user on telephones when they were the only game in town for communications.

I’m a Business. I need a phone system. Now What?

For one, call us at 800-640-2411 and talk to one of our helpful folks in Sales, or email us from our website. We will meet with you, assess your needs, write up a proposal, demo products for you and help you feel like you understand this new vocabulary and whirlwind of technology at least 1% better. That is our “1% less confused guarantee” that has won us at least three compliments.

Without knowing your situation, I would recommend that your receptionist or front desk have a phone, for image and for the ability to handle a call if the computer is shut off. I would recommend conference rooms have physical conference room phones because you need a specialized device for group conversations. This can be a USB “hockey puck” type device but that doesn’t cut it if you have say 6+ people in a room or a room with challenging acoustics. People that make you a lot of money should get whatever they want, so ask them what makes them happy; a phone is a small price to pay to keep your President’s Club broker to stay happy. I’m not going to sit here and piss off your top producer. People with big desks are important and should probably have a phone, and rooms where an intercom and/or paging is important. Everyone else? Softphone it up. A Mitel MiCollab (former UCA) client or a Zultys MXIE client will blow the doors off any telephone in terms of capabilities, and can travel with your employee if they take their laptop home or move about your office. They are also easy to requisition if you have let someone go, as it is just a license you turn on or off with a click, versus a $150 service call to reprogram ye olde ancient phone.

But blow the doors off? Yes. No doors anymore. Your phone’s plaything buttons and paper labels and weird plastic consoles taking up half your desk should be thrown in the trash. With a softphone-enabled Unified Communications client like what we sell with Mitel and Zultys, you can see in detail what everyone is doing, you can highlight and dial with a mouse, you can drag and drop contacts to call and create conferences, and you never have to look at a manual again; contextual help is built right into the software. Dump the phone. You barely use it. That salesperson trying to sell you phones for your entire user community is pushing horse drawn carriages on you. Get a softphone and dial a contact in Outlook by hitting a hotkey combination on your keyboard.

The question you need to ask is, “Why does this person need a phone?” and come up with material, realistic use scenarios to justify a physical phone. If you have reporting, look at the calls per day. Look at your phone bill. I can’t tell you how many businesses tell me they have “a lot of phone calls” and are averaging about an hour or two of phone calls in a week per user. You wouldn’t buy all of your staff a personal fax machine. Why are you getting people that barely use the phone a $200+ piece of equipment only they can use?

Commonalities in Extenda Softphones

We don’t sell lame software that looks like a phone on your PC anymore. That doesn’t even make sense. Someone tell Shoretel?

Wut. This is so terrible.

Someone tell Shoretel they took the softphone thing too literally with this KITT car inspired design

Both of the award-winning softphones form Mitel and Zultys have a host of built-in Unified Communications features that make the software a central point of control of your communications – a real-time dashboard, if you will. Yes you can make a call, but you can also chat, launch a video call, send an email or share your desktop. You can also create custom calling rules that would have cost $10,000 and a dedicated server to implement just a few years ago. Visual voicemail, personal status, presence and a unified, company-wide address book and personal buddy lists are table stakes in this game. Now look at that stupid phone on your desk again, staring back at you like a dummy.

Why Mitel MiCollab

MiCollab

Mitel’s unified communications softphone all in one awesome PC client

The former Unified Communicator Advanced has a lot of great features. It is a clean, great design, very easy on the eyes. It is unobtrusive. It is great in Windows environments, with a lot of great built-in hooks to Outlook and Office products. The hooks to the Mitel family of products are seamless, especially the video and desktop sharing components and the provisioning through the MiCollab (former MAS). It can also be adapted to Lync environments, so you don’t have to use the oddball 3rd party products Microsoft requires to get phone calls going on their system, with the voice component just fitting in to the Lync interface for simple deployments.

Why Zultys MXIE

Zultys thrives in mixed OS environments and/or when you want to empower your users with granular control over their communications. The MXIE is going to get a face lift in the next year if you don’t love the look, but most of my customers see the great personality. This is a very powerful communications tool that features fax and group mailbox access. It is also easier to train on than competing products, because whether you are an operator, a call center agent, a supervisor or part of the rank and file, it is the same software product with slight tweaks for different roles. Products from other companies have specialized software for the call center, for operators, for supervisors and for knowledge workers, which is 4 products to master instead of one. It can also be configured and administered through the MXadmin software as with everything else in the Zultys world, which is very convenient.

Smartphone extensions

I love my smartphone apps from Mitel and Zultys. At the risk of upsetting some people, I like hiding my cell phone number from customers – I need to retain control over my personal time, and my cell phone’s native phone apps do not give me the tools like my office phone system does for sorting and routing calls appropriately. I like having access to my company directory and the ability to chat with a coworker’s desktop from anywhere. That said, you might get some resistance if you aren’t paying for employee cell phones, so the decision on deploying these devices or not is something I leave in your able hands. It effectively replaces a cordless phone for me, and the shorter battery life on my cell from the app running all day is more than made up for with the convenience of being able to see who in my company is available at a glance, set up my own personal status and call routing with a couple of flicks on my smartphone, and access corporate contacts.

Zultys MXIE

Zultys MXIE with a single image across multiple devices for a unified experience

How Green is My Zultys

Your office phone system is hardly the biggest consumer of electricity in your office – that would be Courtney in accounting – but every Watt counts when it comes to trying to avoid boiling the planet for our kids, or saving money on power bills if you aren’t into science and book-learnin’.

A Zultys telephone system laughs at the gluttony of other IP phone systems and digital PBXs when it comes to energy consumption. An MX250 telephone system packed full of applications uses less energy than a light bulb. Competing systems that require multiple switches, servers, and peripheral products draw a multiple of that power. Not only is Zultys simply hyper efficient by design, the consolidation of different applications into a single server appliance not only makes administration simple, it helps your company do its part in the fight against global warming while saving you money on your utility bills versus the competition.

Zultys loves mother Earth more than other phone systems.

Zultys loves mother Earth more than other phone systems.

Zultys Wins 2014 Product of the Year

Zultys MXvirtual wins Best Unified Communications platform in 2014

We’ve been saying the Zultys MX telephone system is pretty cool for some time.  The good folks at ‘Internet Telephony’ magazine agree – they recently awarded Zultys with the 2014 ‘Unified Communications Product of the Year’ for the MXvirtual product.

Rich Tehrani, CEO of TMC, is quoted as saying:

“I am excited to proclaim Zultys as a 2014 recipient of TMC’s Unified Communications Product of the Year Award for their innovative product, MXvirtual. Our judges were very impressed with the ingenuity and excellence displayed by Zultys in their groundbreaking work on MXvirtual.”

Which tells you nothing about why the award was given, but definitely makes this a legit post, since I used a quote from someone else.  Mind you I lifted that quote entirely from the Zultys press release.

I would hazard a guess that the MXvirtual was chosen for the award because it is the only telephony platform that has an identical user and administration experience no matter how you deploy it.  Whether you rent the phone system hosted in a Zultys-managed environment in a traditional cloud telephony model, install the phone system in a data center or your server cluster, or use a Zultys-branded server installed in your office, nothing changes on the feature and functionality side of things.  In a completely unique-to-Zultys configuration, you can even have these different configurations networked together, so your hosted phones can failover to a local server.

Other advantages of the MXvirtual platform include SIP-at-the-core architecture that is unlike the competition, where it is SIP at the product edge, usually involving a conversion somewhere.  Customers should care about this because conversion means latency, and latency – lag in sending data –  is the enemy of a pleasant-sounding telephone call.  There are few things more frustrating than a phone call where it feels like you are slowly shouting into a well, hearing your own echo.

Being built using SIP from the ground up also means we can deliver on the promise of a shared standard.  Pick the phones you like, from any manufacturer that supports SIP. Connect to a SIP service provider and make your phone calls over the internet, instead of using gateways and carrier edge devices to use old T1 and PRI technology on a 21st century phone network. It means the most choices for deploying phones, which are the most expensive part of the installation, and the best user experience and audio.

Zultys killing it in mobile integration

The latest update to the Zultys Mobile™ application (v4.0) extends existing tools like real-time Presence, Instant Message (IM), Presence Notes, Single Number Contact, Call Handling and more right to your Android for increased productivity, enhanced customer service and cost savings.

Users can now log into call group or operator roles from their Android phone, allowing these power users to actually step away from their desk without handing the baton to coworkers to answer their calls for them. Inbound contact center agents (or in Zultys-speak, “ICC agents”) and receptionists can handle incoming calls as if they were still at their desk.

Parked calls are now visible on the app, so mobile users can pick up and park calls as if they are in the office, making it much easier to handle calls between users taking advantage of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) capabilities of the MX system and their colleagues in the office.  Similarly, full visual voicemail functionality is added with the ability to set and record voicemail greetings, view deleted messages folder, access group mailboxes, create voicemail-only replies to internal users, and call people back from the voicemail screen.

ZultysMobileAndorid

Requirements include Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or 4.x (Ice Cream Sandwich or higher), and the latest MX software build (9.0.4 at the time of writing).  External (off-network) users should be on 3G at a minimum.