A T G Srinivas
Monday, December 1, 2008
Mobile Unified Communications (Mobile UC) places traditional deskphone capabilities on a smartphone and complements it with new productivity tools. With Mobile UC, organizations can close gaps in worker communication and increase productivity. Designing a Mobile UC solution that meets individual as well as enterprise requirements, accommodates handset and carrier preferences, and plays well with existing telephony infrastructure is no small task.

To meet this challenge, it is critical that the Top 10 Requirements for a Mobile UC solution be taken into account.

1. Dual Persona
The solution must provide for ‘Dual Persona’, allowing calls to be placed, and received, on either of the two distinct phone numbers associated with a single smartphone. One number is the private cell number. The other is the deskphone number. A user should be able to easily move between Per¬sonas when a call is placed. In personal mode, the caller ID will reflect the native cell number. In business mode, the caller ID will reflect the caller’s deskphone number. With Dual Persona, both business and private call requirements can be satisfied with a single mobile phone.

2. Voice
Mobile UC extends desk¬phone voice capabilities to the mobile phone, providing a single business number reach so that individuals can be contacted anywhere. Support of deskphone features like transfer, hold, and abbreviated dialing, while the user is in WiFi or in cellular coverage, are integral characteristics of Mobile UC. Being able to extend this logical connection to the corporate PBX, while the mobile is in WiFi or cell, is a powerful fea¬ture of true Mobile UC solutions.

3. Voice Quality
The acceptance test that the customers apply to any telephony product will include voice quality and reliability. Given this fact – and the high bar set by landline call quality – a great deal of engineering attention needs to be given to optimizing voice quality.

Development of a Mobile UC solution involves a design that monitors the quality of the audio link between any two participants. Waning WiFi signal strength, network congestion, audio stream termination, and variant packet arrival scenarios all degrade the voice quality. An optimized Mobile UC design will monitor the call link and invoke dynamic voice quality corrections – even if that requires roaming to cell.

4. Presence
The concept of ‘presence’ had its genesis in Instant Messaging. With Mobile UC, the mixture of telephony and text messaging options expands the necessity and the benefits of presence. Without the support for ‘mobile’ presence services, missed calls and missed messaging scenarios would be repeated time and time again, thus devaluing the capabilities of the mobile solution.

5. IM and Email
Based on a ‘presence’ service, IM provides a strong complement to the telephony capabilities of Mobile UC. Being able to invoke and carry on multiple ‘chats’ with associates disregard of their location or network coverage is a powerful tool.

Inherent in IM applications is the concept of security. In a true Mobile UC product, all users are fully authenticated and the exchange of message is secured by the system, regardless of the physical location of the individual user.

6. Contacts
‘Contact’ information is the underpinning that enables easy and efficient voice and text-based (email and IM) communication. The two most useful capabili¬ties associated with ‘contacts’ are the ability to easily import them onto a new device, and the ability of that device to take maximum advantage of the information.

The Mobile UC solution should make locating a ‘contact’ and placing a call or sending an IM or email to that person a simple process. The solution should know where the ‘contact’ resides (local or remote) and make it immediately available for communicating.

‘Presence’ works closely with ‘contacts’. It should appear with the ‘contact’ name, and change dynamically based on activity (i.e., on the phone). With immediate and accurate in¬formation about the contact’s availability, the chance for the collaboration to take place on the first attempt is maximized.

7. User Experience
There are inherent complexities in implementing a feature-rich application on a small form factor device. However, adoption of Mobile UC will depend upon the end user perception about ease of use. Despite the complication of multiple handset devices having different design options with regard to screen size and availability of keys for special functions, the Mobile UC application should offer a simple architecture on the GUI that can be navigated with one hand and by icon selection.

A comprehensive Mobile UC solution provider should offer their product on a range of mobile oper¬ating systems as well as with the help of manufacturers of handsets. Equally important is that the Mobile UC solution performs consistently and offers uniform features across hand¬sets.

8. Seamless and Equal Mobility
Roaming seamlessly between the cellular and WiFi spheres prevents dropped calls and dead zones. Such roams must be automatic and intelligent for network selection based on the most reliable connection with the highest voice quality. The dynamic nature of a busy WiFi network requires that roaming decisions be made based on environmental conditions, as opposed to static network design. Environmentally aware roaming is based on a design that constantly monitors the quality of the session and the audio streams associated with a call and is capable of making an intelligent roam decision based on the link quality and not upon other factors such as ‘location’. This design approach supports optimized ’on campus’ roaming and roaming in public hotspots.

In cases where the business need is to provide economical high quality voice-over WiFi the Mobile UC solution should support the ability to fully operate over WLAN without requiring a calling plan. There are also times when cellular is the only method of communication needed for a set of individuals. For these individuals, it is more cost-effective to provide single-mode smartphones. Full capability should be provided in this scenario as well.

9. IT Flexibility
The successful Mobile UC solution will be designed with ‘choice’ in mind. Offering the customer flexibility in choos¬ing which PBX, WLAN, cellular carrier, or handset is critical. In the business mar¬ketplace, it is very common for a company to have a mixture of products from various vendors, purchased over time, to meet their communications needs. Since these components are operational, any new mobility solution that would require replacement of these perfectly functional components would be out of question.

10. IT Control
In deploying PBX solutions, enterprises have clearly indicated that retaining control over their equipment is a key requirement. The same need for control extends to Mobile UC. Indeed, because the resource is now mobile, the necessity to retain control – in terms of costs as well as security – becomes even more important for the enterprise.

Specifically, in order for an enterprise to embrace a Mobile UC solution, it must conform to the network enterprise security policies. Enforcing strong security policies on a mobile handset poses the challenge of balancing security with voice quality. The strongest authentication or encryption can impose latency on a wireless voice application and degrade its quality. As a Mobile UC solution is a multi-vendor solution, multiple options that take into account the impact on service quality must be con¬sidered when applying security policies.

Integrating a worker’s deskphone with a mobile phone and then adding real-time communications services is an exceptional opportunity to release impressive benefits to almost any organization. By leveraging the increasing powers and flexibilities provided through advancements in mobile devices, organizations can use well-designed Mobile UC solutions to significantly increase worker performance, resulting in a dramatic, positive influence on their productivity.
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