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A handful of big names are out with new unified-communications products that they promise will make life easier for users.
AT&T, for one, has unveiled UC Federation, a service that allows partners, customers and suppliers to communicate in real time across various networks. The service supports Microsoft Lync, Cisco Jabber and a number of other UC platforms.
AT&T says UC Federation gives employees the ability to instant message and see the online presence of other users as if they’re all on the same UC platform. It’s designed to give customers the flexibility to grow without being limited to a single UC system – and supports seamless collaboration when a company switches to a new communications platform.
“With AT&T UC Federation, our sales team can connect with key contacts on the spot, in less time than an email would take,” said Michael Swade, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, Sonus, which is in the middle of a full-service rollout of UC Federation. “It makes collaboration easy, and it truly functions as if each user is communicating on the same platform. We can IM and check presence all within a secure connection.”
AT&T has plans to take UC Federation beyond IM and presence to include calendar integration and video and voice capabilities later this year. It’s available now for free as a 90-day trial for up to 25 users.
Meantime, 8×8, the cloud UC and contact center provider, is delivering a new cloud service that brings together telephony, UC and contact-center users with single sign-on and share presence over a common platform. (A full list of features can be found here.)
The integrated 8×8 Virtual Office and Virtual Contact Center offering aims to free up IT resources traditionally dedicated to managing disparate telephony and contact-center services. It gives call-center agents access to company experts outside of the call center. And other employees can now easily reach the call center using common presence information and click-to-dial as they would for anyone on the 8×8 UC service.
“By integrating core business telephony and contact-center functionality onto a single cloud-based platform with single sign on and shared presence, 8×8 has not only simplified the communications infrastructure that burdens so many businesses today, it has enhanced the value businesses derive from its solution set by providing a path to improved customer engagement,” said Keith Dawson, practice leader, customer engagement at Ovum. “The ability for a call-center agent to tap into the company’s expertise when interacting with customers can have a dramatic effect on first call resolution and overall customer satisfaction.”
The integrated Virtual Office and Virtual Contact Center will be available to existing customers by the end of March. It’s just the first of a handful of new products that 8×8 promises to unveil in the first quarter.
The company earlier this month named Puneet Arora to lead its global sales efforts.
Also new is a service from Sunnyvale, California-based NextPlane, which is designed to help enterprises secure voice and video collaboration with their partners – without having to switch to a third-party service.
NextPlane’s aptly named UC Exchange Voice and Video Collaboration allows users to place and receive voice and video calls to and from any contacts right from their UC client. Moving from chat to a voice or video call can be done quickly.
“With a click of a button, NextPlane customers are now able to easily escalate their federated chat sessions into secure voice or video calls — technology that will certainly transform B2B UC collaboration,” says Farzin Shahidi, CEO of NextPlane. “And this is all accomplished without having to switch to or install any third-party products or services.”
The service leverages several key technologies — including patented UC federation, video transcoding and WebRTC. It supports a broad range of UC platforms, including Microsoft Office 365 and Lync; Cisco WebEx Messenger, UC Manager IM Presence and Jabber; Unify OpenScape; and more.
NextPlane’s channel program offers pre- and post-sales technical support; access to product demos, sales, marketing and technical documentation; recurring revenue opportunities; and more.
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