Previous: the VoIP Federation
The move to VOIP is making integrating the phone system with other systems more practical and economical to implement for smaller businesses as well, rather than just multi-million contact centres at the big end of town. Cisco's Unified Applications Engine is like middleware, providing standard APIs allowing other applications to interact with a VoIP system.
"Think of Unified Applications Engine as like a form of middleware," says Cisco's Peter Cox. "On one side it's got all the commands that talk to our VOIP network, our Unified Communications manager, and on the other side it's got standard APIs and things. A lot of companies are using that to develop such applications to speak to our Unified Communications manager."
"We are making it easy for people to do these kinds of things by providing a development tool kit into our system. They don't have to be hard core code writers. This is where we see the industry going over time. More and more of VoIP applications will come along because people are building them using such standard software development tool kits."
While the technology is in place for businesses to develop their own VoIP applications, many customers are still coming to terms with what is possible in the VoIP world, says Siemens' Mark Anderson.
"I do a lot of work in pre-sales and when I asks customers what they're looking for in terms of VoIP applications it becomes fairly grey for them, because they really don't know," he says.
"I think our definition of an application needs to change. The term application conjures up the image of a little piece of software that sits on a desktop PC and serves a specific function. I think we all need to start to thinking more broadly when it comes to what you can do with VoIP."
While businesses had have one hundred years to come to grips with telephony, VoIP applications are still in their infancy, says Cisco's Cox.
"All the plain old telephone features had a century to get where they are. People know what they want from a traditional phone system - they want to call forward, they want to transfer. Now we're starting to see VoIP application integration and it's just on the cusp of really taking off. It will take time before everyone comes to grips with that and really understands what it has to offer."