• United States
by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Vendors add conferencing and collaboration options

Jun 11, 20032 mins
Collaboration SoftwareNetworkingSmall and Medium Business

* Siemens, Shoreline and Webley separately advance the conferencing cause

Voice-over-IP-based conferencing and collaboration are on the move. In three separate announcements last week, Siemens, Shoreline (an IP PBX supplier), and Webley Systems (a unified communications service provider) updated their product lines.

Shoreline targets distributed small and midsized businesses. The company has integrated converged voice-and-data conferencing into its IP PBX. Shoreline’s ShoreConvergedConference offers both scheduled and ad hoc collaboration. The Web-based user interface provides an easy-to-use screen to establish a voice conference bridge. Users can share data like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents using a drag-and-drop feature on the user screen. Scheduled conferences are available from Shoreline now; ad hoc capabilities will be commercially available in the first quarter of 2004.

Siemens has announced a strategy called LifeWorks. According to Siemens, “The LifeWorks concept integrates the technologies, devices and applications used by enterprises and carriers to produce a single, homogeneous communications infrastructure with anytime, anywhere availability.” Under the LifeWorks umbrella, Siemens offers carrier-grade products similar to its enterprise-level OpenScape architecture – providing carriers the capability to offer new services like unified messaging, multiparty videoconferencing, whiteboard collaboration and other multimedia applications.

Webley Systems is a service provider offering unified communications, conferencing and virtual PBX applications. Using the “click to conference” features from its unified communications service, Webley has spun off a separate service for users who only want to use the audio conference feature. The company provides a softphone connection using the Internet at 7 cents a minute. Users can also have PSTN “off-net” connectivity at 10 cents a minute or a toll-free service priced at 12 cents per minute. One of the unique service features Webley offers is a speech recognition IVR menu to create and control the conference bridge, building on the speech recognition capabilities of its unified communications architecture.