We have been steadily moving through a range of mobility options on our way to achieving true fixed mobile convergence. We want to take our Office Extension away on our Cell phones and have the same functionality away from the office as we do in the office! Originally, people forwarded their office extensions to their Cell phones. Not the best solution, but clearly the easiest to set up. The problem however, is that the caller to your office extension might end up anywhere including your cell phone voice mail. So much for a maintaining a business presence!
ShoreTel addressed that issue, but adding a couple of useful features. For example, you can use External Assignment. Someone calls your desk phone and you can have it re-assigned to your home phone or cell phone. The benefit over call forwarding alone, is that the call profiles you set up for each of your call handling modes are followed as if the caller were going to your desk phone.
Find Me Follow Me with the auto option was also very useful for that reason. When your desk phone was called, it could be routed to your cell phone. You had to explicitly accept the call or the system would take the call back and put it in your personal Voice Mail box. This is clearly superior to just forwarding the call off to your cell phone, risking the possibility of having the caller end up in a personal cell phone voice mailbox.
Twining (see other blog video) is also a favorite strategy for extending your office phone to your cell. Why not ring both devices when your desk phone is called? In this way you could answer on either device and you could also seamlessly move the call between the devices. For example if I am on my desk phone and need to jump into my car and race off to the next appointment, but do not want to terminate my current call, I can simply hit the move button and the call now appears on my cell. Likewise, if I took the call on my cell phone, I can now *23 and send it to my desk phone enabling me to move seamlessly from my car to my desk.
The Mobile Call Manager is another exciting option for extending your desk phone to your cell. Using the ShoreTel Mobile Call Manager, we get a GUI on our phone that allows us to setup our call handling, review voice messages and otherwise experience most of what we see in the desktop Communicator. I can externally assign my desk phone to my Mobile Call Manager and setup phone calls that originate at the office.
All of these are useful tools, but none come close to true fixed mobile convergence. I want my cell phone to be smart enough to enable me to take and make office phone calls regardless of where I am on the planet. I also want the phone to work on any available WiFi connection and to seamlessly move between G3 and WiFi without dumping the call in progress. You walk into Starbucks and your cell phone is smart enough to jump on the WiFi and establish a secure connection back to the office and register with the office mobility server. Any call coming into your office desk phone will now ring your cell phone as a SIP extension!
With a true mobility router, a call to my desk phone will ring both my office extension and my mobile extension. I can answer the call on either extension and have full feature access. While out on the WiFi I can still access my office directory, history, voice mail and manipulate active calls to allow conference and transfer functionality. If my WiFi drops my G3 connection can pick up and continue as my office SIP extension.
Calls to my Cell phone are personal business and calls to my office desk are for business. I want each of these callers to receive appropriate call handling. If I make a call to a personal contact, I want my CID to be different then my CID to a business contact. The phone should be smart enough to route business calls to the company VM and personal calls to my personal VM. All of this is possible with a true Mobility router. All that is required is a PBX that supports both SIP trunks and SIP extensions. Most if not all of the IP based PBX solutions in the market support this capability and the ShoreTel Mobility Router and ShoreTel Roam Anywhere Client make true fixed mobile convergence a reality!
email comments to DrVoIP@DrVoIP.com