Unified Communications

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February 11, 2009

Nortel Granted Restructuring Deadline, Expands UC Capabilities

By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor

Nortel has been given more time to get its finances in order. It has in turn, bolstered its unified communications (UC) capabilities in conjunction with Microsoft’s Office Communications Server 2007 Release 2 (R2) aimed at achieving just that by growing sales and revenues.

An Ontario court has granted Nortel (News - Alert) and its Canadian subsidiaries an extension of credit protection until May 1. An initial 30 day stay of proceedings was obtained on January 14.
The court also gave permission for Nortel and its firms to postpone their shareholder annual general meetings (AGMs) beyond their statutory June 30 deadlines to within six months of the end of creditor protection. That order, says Nortel, gives senior management time to focus on restructuring the company while avoiding the ‘significant’ costs involved with holding the AGMs during this period.
Nortel has taken steps to keep competitive and win sales. It obtained an amendment to its agreement with Export Development Canada (EDC) to permit access to EDC export sales financing of up to US$30 million also to May 1. Nortel says it and the EDC are working together to devise a longer-term arrangement, which was first signed Jan.14.

The EDC agreement is well-timed. Nortel has integrated its Nortel Contact Center with Office Communications Server 2007 R2 that will provide unified presence of experts to contact center agents, and allows new ways for customers to reach contact centers that ensure customer resolution is reached quickly and efficiently on first contact. For example, customers can reach the contact center by phone or IM, and agents can escalate an IM to an audio or a video session.

Key capabilities, announced at the Office Communication Server 2007 R2 virtual launch this week include the availability of new context to enable richer collaboration capabilities such as location and presence features. These enable people to know if the person they seek is available and by what means by which they would like to be contacted, all from a simple interface. This also makes business applications more efficient. Office Communications Server 2007 R2 offers new collaboration features, including audio conferencing dial-in, desktop sharing, and the ability to participate in live group discussions that persist over time.

Nortel has also enhanced its services practice to provide Office Communications Server 2007 R2 network assessment, design and deployment capability. With more than 160 trained and certified Office Communications Server professionals, Nortel is well-positioned to meet the increasing demand of the Office Communication Server 2007 R2 in the market place.

“The combination of Office Communications Server 2007 Release 2 and Nortel's applications and services provides a powerful new way for people to collaborate and offers customers a rich and integrated communications experience,” says Eric Swift (News - Alert), senior director of the Microsoft Unified Communications Group. “Nortel’s applications and services are adding significant value to enterprise communications and enabling businesses to better connect people, information and business processes.”

The solution set is based on the integration with Office Communications Server 2007 R2. Nortel's unified communications application development capabilities, coupled with Nortel Unified Communications (News - Alert) Services, bring real-time communications capabilities to the integrated suite and enterprise applications.

Nortel is optimistic that the integrated presence/UC solution will generate sales, and revenues, amidst a challenging economic climate. One of the strong benefits of presence/UC, say analysts and observers, is greatly enhanced customer satisfaction and retention, resulting in repeat sales plus recommendations to other buyers, delivered nowadays via social networking sites. At the same time it also lowers costs by shortening overall contact handling time.

“We are seeing uptake from all over the world with more than 1,000 customers for these Microsoft (News - Alert) and Nortel  Innovative Communications Alliance solutions, “ says Joel Hackney (News - Alert), president, Enterprise Solutions, Nortel. “Enterprises are reaping the profound benefits of deploying unified communications and the productivity gains our customers are seeing run, on average, about 18 percent. We are continuing to innovate and deliver the technology that drives savings in terms of time and total cost of ownership that pays for itself in as little as six months.”

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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