NEC (News - Alert) updates its software PBX and UC solution, UNIVERGE 3CTM, with an eye toward key trends shaping communications today – a changing workforce that needs better mobile and social technology, highly distributed work environments and the melding of IT and telephony through virtualization technology are among the challenges for today’s businesses.
To recap, NEC previously marketed the product under the brand Sphericall, a software-based IP-PBX acquired in 2007 when NEC Corporation of Tokyo Japan purchased Sphere Communications (News - Alert). The software runs on industry standard servers and integrates with standards-based SIP phones from NEC or third party vendors to deliver a full PBX (News - Alert) feature set with scalability to 30,000 ports across multiple locations. A software-based PBX is a natural fit for virtualized IT environments where voice can run as an application over a data network (NEC supports VMware virtualization technology). Such ‘data center ready’ solutions are suitable for on-premises, cloud or hybrid deployments.
At Enterprise Connect (News - Alert) in March 2012, NEC formally introduced the new branding, UNIVERGE 3C, and subsequently rolled out some new capabilities focused on collaboration, adding a built-in Web, audio and video conferencing capability and improving agent-expert communications in a contact center environment. There are also new pre-packaged business applications for education, healthcare and other vertical markets.
What’s New for UNIVERGE 3C?
Built-in Web, Audio and Video Conferencing
The latest UNIVERGE 3C software adds built-in Web, audio and video conferencing, enabling users to share files and presentations, share a whiteboard, utilize polling, voting, recording and archiving, communicate via video and more from virtually any device, and from anywhere. A user can join a meeting from a mobile phone, tablet or computer by simply clicking on the meeting link. There is a “Lobby” where online users can wait for the meeting to start, viewing pictures from around the world, time and temperature or other visuals such as presentations.
The Web, audio and video conferencing capability is easily activated by purchasing licenses according to the capacity needed. For example, a business can buy 10 licenses to support a 10-user capacity which could be two conferences of five participants or five conferences with two participants each or some other combination. The system scales to 300 audio and Web users per single conference and 16 video participants per conference.
The built-in capability is affordable since it requires no additional server and incurs no per minute usage charges which can really add up over the course of a year. It also offers the security of a privately owned and operated solution.
Enhanced Contact Center
For contact center environments, NEC builds on the existing integrated (license-activated) contact center capability that already supports many advanced features, including intelligent call management, skills-based routing, agent management, multimedia queuing and Web chat, integration to third party CRM applications and standard or custom reporting. The latest software adds support for presence and instant messaging among agents and knowledge experts in the enterprise for fast response to customer inquiries and first call resolution.
UNIVERGE 3C supports some new pre-packaged business applications. Several are available today, including Mass Notification for school settings, an application that sends alerts to parents when there is a school emergency and Advanced Unified Messaging that converts voicemails to texts which are sent out to a smartphone; other applications are in development. There are also add-on options for Fixed Mobile Convergence (News - Alert) and an enterprise-class Call Attendant.
A free Software Development Kit (SDK) is available for third party developers to integrate XML- or SOAP-based applications. NEC recently announced support for the HealthAlert solution suite from partner Extension LLC that enables nurse call integration, text messaging among IP phones and smartphones, critical lab result notification and more.
NEC UNIVERGE 3C Release 8.1 is available as of July 2012 in North America and specific countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia, as well as in Australia; additional countries will follow. Current customers can upgrade to the latest version of the software at no additional charge, purchasing licenses for new features as needed.
Edited by Brooke Neuman