Matching the BlackBerry with the corporate PBX
- 10 May, 2007 11:04
I still can't transfer a caller from my desk phone at the Network World office. How easy, really, are these PBX functions on the BlackBerry?
How many times have you said or heard, "I'm going to try to conference you, but if I hang you up, call me back?" You can look up the zip code in Zimbabwe but you can't phone conference with the guy in the next office. We wanted to make these functions simpler than they are on for most people [on desktop phones]. So, on the BlackBerry, you'd push the trackball, see the menu, see "Transfer," do a 'rollover' to find 'Heather Howland', click on her name, click again and it transfers. The same kind of thing happens for ad hoc conferences. If you're on the road, you hit "*1" and dial Heather. It rings her phone, she jumps on the call, you click "conference," click another name, and [our software] pulls you all together. A main design goal for us was [that] we tried to think through how people actually use this device and make it completely intuitive for them to do it.
But aren't all the vendors trying to do this? None of them say 'our design goal is to make it completely non-intuitive....'
What's fundamentally different is, if you hand someone a BlackBerry smart phone for the first time and say 'make a call,' they'll work it out very quickly. Other solutions may require you to know, for example, there's a new program that you have to call up, or create new calling lists, and run through some kind of manual process. Our solution appears just as part of the user's existing phone experience. Anything less than will not be adopted [by users].
I know I don't use many PBX features on my office phone. Are your enterprise customers really impressed with this?
When I've shown this, I've had some jaws drop and people say "I never thought you could do that." The security and GUI improvements we're introducing with MVS came straight out of talking to customers. BlackBerry MVS is the voice analog of BlackBerry Mobile Data Service, which is about mobilizing the enterprise data stores, starting with e-mail.
You mentioned security. What's actually new here?
The innovation is in user authentication. One large bank explained it well: They have many voice-enabled services in their PBX infrastructure, accessed by executives and others. They can't allow a mobile device user to get access to things like directory lookups, long-distance dialing, and so on, because they can't authenticate the device's user.
Surely there was some way to authenticate in the past?
To enable this in the past, you were using Automatic Number Identification (ANI), as your caller ID. The PBX would give the OK based on the ID. But spoofing this is very, very easy. The other method is using a PIN number like you do with your ATM. But the user has to enter the PIN manually or it's part of the dial string. In either case, it can be cracked.
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