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OpenScape builds presence

Siemens presents an update to its application for managing office communcations.

Electronics giant Siemens released the first major update Monday for OpenScape, a business application that manages communication via e-mail, instant messaging and telephone.

Version 2.0 of the HiPath OpenScape software includes new tools to automate routing of communications and for linking OpenScape with other business applications.

OpenScape is part of a growing trend toward boosting common office tools with "presence"--the ability to intelligently route calls and messages based on where a worker is, what he is doing and other factors. A presence-enabled application might be able to tell that a worker is in a weekly meeting, for instance, and allow only limited access via IM.

OpenScape integrates with office phone systems and common applications such as Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client and the Live Communications Server IM product. The new version includes more features to automate changes in availability status, a critical factor for presence to be embraced in the workplace, said Gary Paris, vice president of Siemens' HiPath Services division.

"The more you can automate presence changes, the more likely people will embrace this whole idea," Paris said. "But you have to smart about it. "If you just have a simple rule that changes your status to 'out of office' when your screensaver comes on, that doesn't help you a lot."

The new version of OpenScape also includes expanded tools for writing custom applications, such as tools that link the software with back-end technology such as corporate sales databases. Version 2.0 also expands OpenScape's voice capabilities, with more options for controlling data via voice commands and having information presented via synthesized speech.

"For the mobile worker, which is really our target audience, that's a critical element," Paris said. "It's a huge productivity tool if you travel frequently to be able to do ad-hoc conference calls...and do it with one voice instruction, or to have the ability to get corporate data read to me."