Takeaway: Panasonic (News - Alert) focuses on the growing trend in distributed work environments, introducing a new version of its Communications Assistant (CA) productivity software that improves communications among remote and mobile workers. New CA (News - Alert) V3.0 functionality includes a Conference Management Window for organizing group conferences (up to 32 participants), Remote Location Call Monitoring and networking which allows users to view contacts and presence status information across eight networked PBXs. Panasonic also updates its KX-NCP and KX-TDE systems with V4.1 and V4.2 software to support the CA V3.0 capabilities, two new DECT (News - Alert) handsets, enhanced QSIG features and networking of 100 sites. Read more below.
Panasonic enhances its Communications Assistant (CA) software with new Version 3.0 (V3.0) features and functionality that improves communications among remote and mobile workers. The CA productivity software enables visual control of calls and messages from a PC with functionality such as point and click call control, screen-based presence, instant messaging, visual voicemail, integration with Microsoft (News - Alert) Outlook, group conferencing and TAPI-enabled CRM desktop tools, as well as door phone and IP camera integration.
CA software is pre-installed on the main processor of Panasonic’s KX-NCP and KX-TDE communications systems, so that minimal computer skills are needed for implementation. Up to 240 CA client users can connect directly to the PBX (News - Alert) in this “PBX Mode.”
Customers choose from different levels of CA functionality depending on user needs from basic PC-based call management to more advanced IM and presence functionality, group call monitoring or operator functions. CA Basic Express mode is a free version for up to 240 users (requires free downloadable activation keys). User licenses are purchased for other versions of CA (CA Pro, CA Supervisor and CA Operator) which have additional functionality.
- CA Basic Express enables call management from a PC (free for up to 240 users).
- CA Pro builds on CA Basic Express and also enables presence and chat/IM functionality.
- CA Operator Console has an arriving calls screen, and operators can park, transfer and page, as well as change settings on other users’ phones such as resetting forgotten passwords, setting a timed reminder or changing call forwarding or absent messages.
- CA Supervisor builds on CA Pro and adds group call monitor, and supervisors can take over, override and listen into calls. An active screen displays current calls on hold and whether group members are logged in or out.
- VM Assistant allows users to visually see and manage voicemail messages using their desktop PC (requires Panasonic’s KX-TVA Voice Messaging server with a LAN Connection). VM Assistant is included with CA Basic Express, CA Pro, CA Supervisor and CA Operator and does not require a separate user license.
- Additional options include a Softphone version (for laptops), ICD Group Agent Features and Thin Client support.
Alternatively, a CA Server can be deployed in which CA client users connect to the PBX through the CA Server; this server mode enhances the performance of the CA client and supports networking which allows users of different PBXs to communicate with each other through the CA client. For example, users can view the contact information and presence of users at another location. Also, one PC running the CA Server can connect to up to four PBXs over an IP network, and a maximum of eight PBXs can be networked (requires at least two CA servers). As an example, two computers running CA Server connect to four PBXs each, for a total of eight PBX connections. The CA Server is required to support more than 240 users.
New CA V3.0 functionality:
- Conference Management Window (CA Pro, Supervisor and Operator levels) – CA users can organize a group conference, adding up 32 participants by dragging and dropping contacts. For regularly scheduled meetings, up to eight (8) conference groups can be saved and assigned names and pin numbers for quick set up.
- Remote Location Call Monitoring (CA Supervisor and Operator levels) - Supervisors and Operators can monitor calls for users on a networked PBX system (previously only the local PBX system could be monitored). CA V3.0 allows the monitoring of extension status (e.g. Idle, busy) across a network of PBXs and supports other features such as Leave Message Waiting, Set Call Back, Call Waiting, Directed Call Pickup, Busy Override and Listen-In. (KX-NCP/TDE 4.1 or higher is required).
- Caller Information Output - Customers can output CA information for use with other databases. When CA receives a call, the caller information is written to a specified file which can be used in a third party application.
- New Short Cut Keys - Users can assign short cut keys for features such as Answer, Write Memo. Redirect, Set Call Back, Call waiting tone, Listen in, Override (Conference), Take Over and others.
- Networked CA and My list – CA V3.0 allows one CA Server to handle up to four PBXs (previously there was a separate PC server for each PBX). In conjunction with the CA Server, users can take advantage of the My List feature which lets the user view a list of contacts and their presence status across up to eight (8) networked PBXs. A maximum of five (5) different My List tabs can be created, with up to 128 contacts per tab.
KX-NCP and KX-TDE V4.1 and V4.2
Panasonic’s KX-NCP and KX-TDE have new functionality that includes the CA V3.0 features listed above, as well as some new functionality for private networks, including a large number of enhanced QSIG features and networking of 100 systems. The systems also add support for new DECT handsets called KX-WT125/126 (KX-NCP/TDE V4.2). A mobile twinning solution from Mobisma is currently being used in Europe, but is not available in the U.S yet.
As of V4.2, there are three ways to program private networking: (1) 100 systems can be networked without PBX Codes (Extension Number method) or (2) 100 systems can be networked with PBX Codes (PBX Code method) or (3) up to eight systems (recommended) can be networked with a Common Extension Numbering plan in which each PBX unit shares its extension numbering plan with the other PBXs. Enhanced QSIG network features include Leave Message Waiting across the network, Absent Message Display, Ringing Extension Name and Number prior to answering, Call Waiting, Executive Busy Override, Automatic Call Back, Call Forwarding, Do Not Disturb and DND, Override, Hands-free Answerback, Internal Call Block, Camp-on Transfer and Directed Call Pickup and soft key operation is available for Call Waiting, Automatic Callback Busy and Executive Busy Override.
Availability/Compatibility: CA V3.0 is available now and works with Panasonic KX-TDE100/200/600 V4.1000 or KX-NCP500/1000 V4.1000 or higher telephone systems. CA software is pre-installed on the main processor of the KX-NCP and KX-TDE (earlier Panasonic systems do not support CA). Activation keys (files) are required to allow the use of CA clients with the PBX. CA Basic Express mode is a free version for up to 240 users. www.panasonic.com/bts Sandra M. Gustavsen, business VoIP analyst, contributes her Business VoIP column to TMCnet. To read more of Sandra�s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Charles West