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TMCNet:  Add-on Makes Microsoft Lync Feature-Complete to Compete with PBXs

[January 31, 2013]

Add-on Makes Microsoft Lync Feature-Complete to Compete with PBXs

Originally posted on VoIP & Gadgets Blog, here:

Yesterday, at ITEXPO I met with some representatives from Bressner, a German-based company with some interesting add-ons for Microsoft Lync. Now targeting the U.S. (English website) their Lync add-ons add some powerful features to Microsoft Lync that help make Lync have feature-parity with PBXs, allowing enterprises to use Lync as a PBX replacement with no compromise.

Bressner's Dr. Klaus Zünkler, Principal Solutions Architect and Mitch Friend discussed three of their Lync products. The first was FonComfort, which is designed to fill the feature-gap in Microsoft Lync. One of those feature-gap fillers is "true busy" so the caller doesn't have to pay for the call if you're already on another call. I asked Klaus and Mitch why this was a popular feature since typically a call would drop to voicemail if you were on a call or unavailable and they said this "true busy" feature was more popular in Europe due to a cultural thing. I guess they don't like voicemail or paying for a call if they can't reach a live person. Similarly, FonComfort offers flexible control of second call handling. You can suppress or allow second call alerting.

Another feature FonComfort adds is several fast hotkeys. One of which is very cool - you can be in Outlook reading someone's email and all you have to do is have the email highlighted, press a hotkey and instantly a Lync call is made to that person. Another hotkey lets you answer the longest ringing call (blind call pickup), whch is useful in contact centers and in other applications. Further, if you have access to pickup someone else's call (call pickup) - say a cubicle neighbor - you can simply use a hotkey or FonComfort's Dashboard to answer the call. Relatedly, manager/secretary functions feature pickup ringing call by delegate and the ringing state is added to the standard presence states. You can restrict access to secretary functions by predefined contacts or groups. FonComfort has a Quick link Dashboard, which is like a secretary / attendant console displaying the presence state of a set of users. FonComfort also makes call transfers easier.

Not only can a personal assistant answer calls for the boss, the personal assistant can change his/her own profile/presence. For instance,  she’s leaving, so now the boss's calls can go to different assistant. Unique to FonComfort, it allows the chaining of call routing – from boss to secretary to secretary's mobile phone. Allowing the redirecting of redirected calls is a seriously lacking feature in Lync that FonConfort solves.

Another interesting product is Brenner's UCFeatureBox, which is a hardware box that enables fast and easy integration with your existing PBX. A competitor to AudioCodes (amongst others), UCFeatureBox adds fax integration as well as support for DECT wireless systems. It is configurable for varying analog and (T1/PRI/BRI) ports to suit your needs. It features full Active Directory and Exchange integration making it very easy to setup. It features automatic fax detection and can direct faxes to individual or group mailboxes. It has an enterprise session border controller (SBC) for enabling SIP trunks. It also sports connectivity to Google Talk and Skype.

The last product they mentioned is Kuando Busylight (OEM'ed), an interesting gadget that you put on your desk and which sports colored LEDs to indicate your current presence status. Ever walk into our boss's office and you start talking to him not realizing he was on a phone call Well, that's where such a gizmo comes in handy. It also sports a speaker, so it gives an audible alert on an inbound call, which is useful if not wearing your headset where the audible alert is normally played.

I'm headed over to check out Bressner's booth (#914) at ITEXPO to see their products live in the Microsoft Lync Pavilion. regular_smile

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