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Citrix 'Click to Call' eliminates misdials

Citrix has introduced new software that allows IP telephony users to call any number in an e-mail or Web application with one mouse click.

Say goodbye to bulky phone books, rolodexes and scattered notes scratched with scribbled phone numbers.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix Systems Inc. recently announced the addition of the Smart Agent to the newest release of the Citrix Application Gateway, which lets users dial any phone number contained in an e-mail or Web-based application from their IP telephones with one mouse click.

Gordon Payne, vice president of marketing for Citrix, said the technology, dubbed "Click to Call" allows users to "see a number and click on it." Once the number is clicked, their desk phone rings. When the user answers, the number clicked is automatically dialed. The system can also be set to require the user to hit a button before dialing out, giving the caller more control, Payne said.

"We see this as something everyone in the office can use," Payne said.

Available through an Internet download, the software turns all phone numbers contained in e-mails and other Web applications into hot links. The software is available with the Citrix Application Gateway appliance, which brings a user's Web-based applications to VoIP phones' screens and speakers.

Payne demonstrated the Smart Agent by opening the Web site for a popular jewelry store. Once he accessed the page listing of all the store's locations, the phone number for each outlet glowed blue as an active link. One click placed the call.

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The technology is a "marriage between computers and IP telephones," he said.

Payne said the easy-to-install software runs in the background and updates automatically. It alleviates complex deployment and upgrade issues for IT administrators.

Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst for Campbell, Calif.-based Infonetics Research, said recent studies found several companies are interested in VoIP enhancements, including click-to-dial features.

"For a lot of businesses there is a demand for this," he said.

An Infonetics study this year found that out of 240 businesses using VoIP, 152 were interested in adding enhanced features. Of that, 111, or 73%, hoped to have some form of click-to-dial in place by 2007.

"For workers who make a lot of phone calls, this makes for a nicer communication experience," he said. "It scans an e-mail and says, 'Hey, that's a phone number.'"

Machowinski said the Smart Agent can increase productivity by cutting down on time spent searching for phone numbers and misdialing.

"How often do you not dial the right number?" he asked. "This eliminates those errors."

The Smart Agent supports any Web application that can be accessed with Microsoft Internet Explorer, including sales force automation, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning. It also works in Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, as well as Eudora or any other Web-based e-mail system.

Payne said Citrix is working to allow Smart Agent technology to work with Outlook contact lists as well.

Along with Smart Agent, the Citrix Application Gateway offers Citrix Voice Office, a suite of communications applications, including express directories, visual voice mail, conference managers, zone paging and broadcast alerts.

Citrix has partnerships with all of the leading IP telephony vendors, including Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, Alcatel, Avaya and Siemens.

The Citrix Application Gateway costs $3,995, plus a one-time payment of $40 per user for Voice Office with Smart Agent.

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