Friday, November 27, 2009

Desk Phone Control for Cisco Phones from Lotus Notes or Sametime

Happy Thanksgiving!  In my last entry, I gave an overview of the Unified Messaging plug-in from Cisco.  Another free telephony plug-in available from Cisco is their Phone Control and Presence (PCAP) plug-in.  There is a lot of functionality packed into this plug-in, including:
  • Desk phone control
  • Click-to-call
  • Click-to-conference
  • and Phone presence.
Each of these features has different back-end Cisco requirements, and can be implemented independently if you do not meet the requirements for all capabilities.  Given this, I'm going to cover the capabilities of the PCAP plug-in over separate blog postings.  In this post, I'll cover the desk phone control capabilities.

Once you've installed the PCAP plug-in, you'll have a new option in the Sametime preferences for 'Cisco' > 'Phone'.  Here you can indicate whether you want the plug-in to control your desk phone or IP Communicator (Cisco's soft phone). 


With your credentials entered, you can click the 'Search for Phones' icon to have it locate your desk phone on the network.  The device will be listed in the 'Select Phone to Control' box.  You select your phone and apply the changes.  Now the plug-in is set to control your desk phone. (Note: if you set the plug-in to control IP Communicator, then the functions below do not apply since call control is handled by the IP Communicator interface.)

Now when you get an in-coming call to your desk phone, you will get a pop-up on your PC screen indicating who is calling you.

If the number is a recognized number and you have Sametime setup to use photos in business cards, the name and the photo of the caller will be displayed.  If not, just the phone number and the silhouette will be displayed.  From the pop-up, you can send the call to voicemail if you're currently busy. Or you can click the 'Answer' button which will pick-up the call on your desk phone and either place the call on speakerphone or put it live in your headset if you are using a head set with your phone.

When I first read about this capability, I honestly didn't see the value of it.  Why would I use the dialog box rather than picking up the call from my phone when I'm at my desk?  Well, once I had the plug-in installed, I understood.  When you're at your desk, your focus is on your PC where you are working.  When you get an in-coming call, the pop up occurs where your focus is already.  It's simply more convenient to respond to the pop-up screen in the context of your current work.

When you answer a call, the window changes to display details of the call status and to provide new controls to manage the call.

 
From here you can:
  • Put the call on hold
  • Surface a dial pad to input numbers (for example, to respond to phone prompts)
  • Hang up the call
  • Or conference the call with another call (I'll say more about this in a minute).
If you receive another call while you're still on the line with the first, you'll see another pop-up window indicating the in-coming call.

 
If you choose to answer the second in-coming call, the first call will automatically be put on hold while you speak to the new caller. 

 
Now here's where things get really get slick.  If you want to conference the two callers together into one single conference call, all you have to do is to click the 'Merge Call' button.  This replaces the two call windows with a single conference call window and merges the calls into a conference call. 


 
On my desk phone, I still don't know how to accomplish this.  But the plug-in makes it easier for end-users to take advantage of the investment you've already made in your Cisco phones and the capabilities they have.

In order to use the capabilities above, you'll need Cisco Call Manager 4.1.3 or higher, and Sametime Standard 7.5 or higher.  If you meet these requirements and have not deployed the PCAP plug-in, I'd be interested in feedback as to why you haven't.

4 comments:

  1. Phil,

    Thanks for this and Unity Posting. We just finished a Cisco UC Deployment that utilized Sametime. And your postings was the only place I could find decent screen-shots showing the plug ins in action. Finding someone at Cisco that knows how the plug-ins work is almost impossible.

    We are planning to deploy Cisco Meeting Place but only as a Audio conference bridge. We plan on integrating this with Sametime Meeting Center. Have you had any experience with this type of deployment?

    Thanks Again!

    Henry

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  2. Hi Hank,

    I'd be happy to setup a meeting with you to go over in greater depth what is available from the Cisco plug-ins. I am familiar with the Meetingplace plug-in, but I do not have experience with its deployment. If you'd like to discuss further, contact me at my work email at phil.salm@cdw.com. Thanks.

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  3. We are deploying Cisco\Sametime presence to our users (we use the external Sametime Client, v8.5). It works great, though whenever users roam to a different PC, it re-prompts them to install the plug-in. Thats resulting in a lot of complaints. Any experience with this?

    J.Franchetti
    jfranche@cravath.com

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  4. Its very interesting post, good job

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