Business Phone System Review: Featuring Mitel

by Jeff Wiener on March 1, 2011

Over the course of the next few weeks will highlight some of the more popular business phone systems sold to the Small Medium business market. We sent a series of questions, as you will see below, to a number of the larger manufacturers of business phone systems and asked for their responses which we are publishing exactly as provided by the manufacturer. At the end of the series we will do a round-up and comparison, review of the major brands. Some of the brands which we will highlight include: Avaya, Cisco, ShoreTel, NEC, Mitel, Toshiba, and Panasonic.

We have now highlighted Panasonic, Avaya, Mitel, and ShoreTel.

Disclaimer: I am the President of and have an obvious bias toward the products Digitcom sells. I am NOT the person writing these posts, nor will I be the person doing the round-up. That will be done by one of writers.

There’s an obvious market trend toward VoIP, some of the manufacturers only have a VoIP solution. We’re going to delve into the call center, and finish with the following question (which sits on my mind as well):
Do you view manufacturers of smart phones, companies like Apple and RIM, as a competitive threat, not necessarily today but 3 to 5 years from now?

So stay tuned over the next 2 weeks. We will be discussing ShoreTel on Thursday, Cisco, and a few others to come. This week we’re going to highlight Mitel, a Canadian based manufacturer with deep roots in the Telecom space and a very strong product offering.

Who are you and what position do you have with Mitel?
I’m Peter O’Blenis, Director of Solutions Marketing in Mitel’s global marketing organization.

Can you describe Mitel’s offering in the SMB space and address the following questions:

What is your SMB phone system called?
The Mitel 5000 Communications Platform.

What is the system capacity?
The Mitel 5000 Communications Platform supports up to 250 users.

Do you have more than one model in the SMB space?
Yes. Mitel also offers the Mitel Communications Director (MCD), which is a pure software based call control application for small business to very large enterprises. The MCD gives you the freedom to select a deployment option that best addresses your business needs. MCD can be deployed on industry standard servers, on VMware virtualized environments, or on Mitel hardware, or offered from the cloud as a hosted service from Managed Service Providers. MCD supports integrated UC applications that are also common with the Mitel 5000. Customers and resellers have choice in deploying Mitel solutions depending on their business needs and geographic location.

Does your phone system support both digital and IP phones?
Yes. The Mitel 5000 Communications Platform supports up to 250 users on IP phones, digital devices and mobile phones.

Do you have a call center offering and what is the capacity of the call center including agents and queues?
Yes. The Mitel 5000 Communications Platform has an embedded ACD functionality which supports up to 3,000 agent IDs. Active agents are limited by the number of devices programmed on the system (up to 250). The maximum number of queues is limited by the programmed devices and/or trunks on the system (max 180).

The Mitel 5000 supports the Mitel Application Suite which offers small to mid size businesses enhanced informal contact center capabilities via the Mitel Customer Service Manager application. It enables basic contact centers or workgroups to efficiently monitor, manage, and route calls. It provides real-time business intelligence, including call performance and agent activity reporting, as well as agent productivity tools, including screen pop and PIM integration.

Customer Service Manager (CSM) provides:
• hunt / ring group-based routing and longest idle routing of calls
• CSM Clients, which improve agent and supervisor productivity with call management, screen pops with PIM integration, and call control
CSM Reporter Pro, which delivers both historical and real-time management reporting, as well as call recording capability
Optional modules are available to address more advanced requirements:
Intelligent Router – provides more advanced options, such as routing by skills set or look-ahead routing, which changes the route a call takes based on real-time performance indicators
• Media Blending – gives you a more flexible approach to contact and availability by allowing you to route media such as email, fax, and SMS text (using appropriate gateways) as email to agents, in the same manner as voice calls

Does your call center offering support skills based routing?
No. However, the Mitel 5000 supports 300 ACD Groups and 75 priority levels for call distribution, which allows for skills based routing assignments to agents. Formal skills based routing is provided on the Mitel Communications Director (MCD) platform.

What level of integration does your product support with respect to integration with Outlook? For example, can you, from within the calendar, access your mailbox settings and define the greeting to use while at a certain appointment? What other features does the product have with respect to calendar integration?
Mitel’s desktop client, Unified Communicator Advanced, provides integration and functionality that is compatible with Microsoft Outlook® 2003, 2007, and 2010. This includes:
• Synchronization with Contacts from Outlook to UC Advanced. Users can dial from their Outlook contact list, and click-to-dial using smart tags.
• Dynamic Status Updates- a user’s presence status can be automatically updated based on the user’s Outlook calendar information. Also, if the user has indicated in Outlook that they will be, for example, “Out of the office”, UC Advanced updates the user’s Dynamic Status to reflect “Out of the office”.
• Launchpad – launch frequently used applications from UC Advanced including Outlook.
• Knowledge Management – see files associated with callers, appearing in one list, including Outlook emails. When a contact calls, based on the calling line ID, the associated items will be made available to the user for quick access.

System redundancy can be a complicated topic, but can you describe, from a high level perspective, how your system supports redundancy?
Redundancy is not supported on the Mitel 5000; however Mitel Communications Director supports extensive redundancy and high availability capabilities. These include hardware redundancy, call processing failover, IP Phone failover and integration to data center toolsets such as vMotion from VMware supporting high availability functions.

Where do you see the SMB market headed over the course of the next five years?
There are 3 major trends happening within the SMB market, associated with communications:
1. Explosion of mobile device use in SMB – see below.
2. Growing adoption of unified communications solutions: – After a slow start, Unified Communications has crossed the chasm in the SMB market. Where UC was once poorly understood, SMBs now recognize the various components of these solutions and are embracing the value that they bring.
3. Popular UC-based applications include audio & web conferencing, voicemail and email integration, , support for remote workers, and improved customer service capabilities – all of which can be delivered under the umbrella of unified communications.
Products such as the Mitel 5000 with the Mitel Applications Suite are making it easy for SMBs to adopt and utilize the wide array of UC capabilities, by delivering a spectrum of commonly used solutions under a single configuration and management umbrella. As PBXs and Keysystems continue to be displaced in the SMB market, UC capabilities will increasingly be adopted in conjunction with the new IP telephony systems, and not an afterthought.
4. The emergence of hosted communication services – Our industry is on the cusp of widespread availability of reliable, high quality hosted UC services, delivered by trusted Service Providers. With the evolution of software based communications platforms that are equal to capabilities provided by traditional on-premise solutions, SMBs now have the option to choose between traditional on-premise products and hosted services on the merits of cost, control, overhead and convenience, without sacrificing functionality.

Do you view manufacturers of smart phones, companies like Apple and RIM, as a competitive threat, not necessarily today but 3 to 5 years from now?
Mitel is not in the business of making smart phones or other mobile devices. Instead, Mitel believes that the customer should have the freedom to use the mobile devices that are best suited to the needs of their end users. To that end, Mitel has designed its products to make it easy to integrate and manage the growing array of disparate third party mobile devices within the business context. Though capabilities such as dynamic extension, mobile twinning and unified communications applications for mobile devices, Mitel is extending the definition of what a “work phone” is to include just about any device the end user wishes to bring to the table.

Note: We have already highlighted Panasonic and Avaya.

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