Siemens touts voice networking products

Siemens Information and Communications Networks Inc. has announced a pair of voice and data networking convergence products aimed at corporate users.

One product, HiPath CorporateConnect, has been used for the past nine months by Volvo Car Corp. to give each of 1,200 workers at several office campuses in Sweden a single telephone, number and voice mail message box for all corporate voice communications.

The Siemens system lets Volvo track calls made on mobile phones and transfer calls to the mobile phones through a switchboard, Volvo CIO Bill Houghton said in a statement released by a spokeswoman for the auto maker, which is owned by Ford Motor Co.

The Volvo workers each have a mobile phone that functions on a wireless Global System for Mobile communications network, Houghton said. The employees are able to drop into any Volvo office or work on the road and use the mobile phone for abbreviated dialing, conference calling, least-cost call routing and up to 30 other features, he said.

The HiPath applications also let telecommunications managers monitor each phone or voice-enabled handheld device to gather information about usage and cost, Siemens said.

Siemens Information and Communications Networks, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based subsidiary of Siemens AG, also announced HiPath ComResponse, a Web-based communications portal that companies can use to provide their customers with a self-service voice or touch-tone interface.

The ComResponse technology is designed to cut down on multiple calls between a salesperson and a customer who's seeking details on a product or service, for example. The portal could be set up to refer the customer to a pricing list that's reachable with voice or touchtone commands, Siemens said.

CorporateConnect will sell for $400 per client, while the ComResponse application is priced at $4,100 for four channels serving a total of 50 to 100 users. Both are already shipping, the company said.

Brian Riggs, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va., said the new products should put more management capabilities in the hands of end users and help increase worker productivity by cutting down on the need to consult more than one voice mail system, among other capabilities. The Siemens networking unit is making a push aimed at gaining market share in the U.S. and Canada, Riggs added.

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