Unified Communications Puts On its Traveling Shoes

Unified communications (UC) is an empty slogan – or at least, a sector that is a shadow of what it can be – until it has a strong mobile element. The two endeavors overlap and share the goal of making employees more accessible when they are away from their desks.

Mobile devices’ inability to support those applications presented a hurdle to the true marriage of mobility and UC. Recent announcements, however, clearly say those limitations have been surmounted. At the VoiceCon Show this week in Orlando, Nortel introduced a number of mobile UC products. The company said mobility has been embedded in the Communication Server 1000 IP PBX 5.5 (available next month) and Mobile Communication 3100 for fixed/mobile convergence. The vendor also introduced the IP Softphone 2050 3.0 laptop for PCs and a DECT system for international markets.

The commentary in the story says that adding mobility to unified communications not only makes people more accessible, but it cuts costs – to the tune of 30 percent – by enabling them to use corporate calling plans. Call-completion rates, the story says, improve from 30 percent to 50 percent.

The age of mobile UC is upon us. In January, Datamonitor released a report entitled “Trends to Watch: Unified Communications 2008,” which found that many organizations use technologies – such as presence, mobility and Web conferencing – that benefit traveling workers. To date, however, the overall concept of mobilized UC has not taken off. Recent cellular advances and the higher profile of mobile e-mail will make mobility a more central feature of UC.

The online post, which for some reason omits Datamonitor’s name, lists the section names in the report. They clearly suggest the mobilization of UC. Some of the titles: “Mobility Will Play a Greater Role in the Unified Communications Market,” “Mobility Will Help Drive Investments in Unified Communications” and “FMC and ‘One Number’ Solutions Will Become a Reality.”

Mobility is a theme that runs through Avaya’s VoiceCon announcement of its Unified Communications Services initiative to lead companies gracefully into the world of UC. Avaya UC Services will assess the company’s needs and desires, create a plan and deploy the system. While the idea is to address the entire UC landscape, the company clearly sees mobility as a key element. Indeed, the example given in the release describes how Avaya helped the Black & Decker tool company create a mobile UC strategy.

Smaller vendors are mobilizing their UC products as well. Last month, CommuniGate Systems added features to its
Pronto! UC system [http://www.communigate.com/news/c-news_article_02052008.html]. Pronto!, which uses Adobe Flash, now supports Web-based VoIP. This eases remote access to the corporate PBX and offers features such as click-to-call from the address book, programmable function keys and speed dial.

Network World also positions mobility as an important piece of the overall UC strategy. A Verizon Business director positions mobile UC as the ability to use enterprise applications and services while not being plugged into the network. This requires VoIP, secure access, auto-forwarding of voice and text-to-voice and voice-to-text services. Security, in a mobile UC context, is about risk management – not locking down applications so that they cannot be used outside of the enterprise.

It is illogical to think of UC and mobility as separate entities. Now, for the first time, the technology is in place to truly join them.

Fantastic Shoes for the Traveler

Traveling can be a stressful activity when it comes to planning and packing. A good way to ease some of this stress is to pack a reliable pair of versatile travel shoes. Packing one or two pairs of great shoes can save a lot of space in your bag and reduce the amount of things to manage throughout the trip. It’s always beneficial to have shoes that have great traction, excellent arch and heel support, and are lightweight and breathable. Since traveling requires you to be on your feet a lot, these support features can make the journey much more pleasant.

Keeping as much weight off your feet as possible is an efficient way to stay comfortable on the road. If you’re carrying a pack this is especially important since you will tire more quickly. Lighter trail shoes are great travel shoes since they still have a solid rubber sole with great grip and a durable last and fabric construction, but they aerate well and are easy to wear.

A cushioned heel is very important on those uneven and rocky surfaces since the heel takes so much shock when walking. A cupped heel will alleviate a lot of stress on the heel and go a long way towards preventing and treating heel pain. This is a great feature for the traveler who stays on their feet all day crossing many different surfaces.

Well designed mid-sole regions of the shoes are also necessary to hold the form of the arch. The plantar fascia tendon that makes up the arch of the foot needs to be well supported to prevent the breakdown of the arches and the development of the foot condition plantar fasciitis. A quality midsole will help keep your feet comfortable no matter where your trip takes you.

Finally, the most fantastic travel shoes are those that can be worn anywhere in total comfort. Versatility is key when you need a shoe that can handle a hiking trip and a tour through the big city. Great travel shoes are designed to prevent pain in the entire foot.

With superior travel shoes, you will be sure to travel better. Remaining comfortable in your shoes all day will keep you focused on the journey and not your feet. A lot discomfort can be avoided by continuously wearing supportive footwear as you travel. Heel pain and breakdown of the arches can be managed with great shoes.

3 Common Mistakes Women Make When Selecting Shoes for Travel

Spring is here, and we’re itching to get our travel on! There’s nothing quite like the thrill of getting away from the everyday routine of school or the office to travel somewhere new, exciting or just plain relaxing. And for many of us girls, with spring break or time off just on the horizon, we’ve already begun shopping for cute clothes and accessories to pack for our trip.

However, in between the fun of picking out sweet little beachy dresses or snagging a new pair of shades, we need to remember the importance of selecting the right pair of travel shoes. With all the excitement of planning for a trip, this vital step of selecting comfortable walking shoes for women is often overlooked or not given much thought. And this is a real shame, because the footwear you choose to bring can make or break your trip.

Here’s three common mistakes that most women make when selecting travel shoes, and suggestions on how you can avoid them.

  • Not enough support

If you plan on taking a sightseeing or walking tour while you’re on vacation, you will need to make sure that your shoes are up to the task. This means you’ll want to avoid shoes with thin, flimsy bottoms or soles. (Yes, that means you’ll probably want to stay away from those cheap dollar store flip flops.) The most comfortable walking shoes for women feature thick footbeds with plenty of support. Even if you think you already have travel shoes with proper support, it never hurts to double check their quality. If they’re a pair you wear often, they may be worn down on the bottom and not be offering you the support you think they are. If that’s the case, then a new pair of supportive shoes may be in your future.

  • Not comfortable

Comfortable walking shoes are a must for women who love to travel. We know you want to look cute while on vacation, but style is simply never worth the suffering, especially when it comes to traveling. Ditch the painful, blister causing footwear and invest in more comfortable options like a cozy pair of sneakers or supportive sandals. And with all fashionable options out on the market today, you should never have to worry about sacrificing style for comfort, or vice versa. Also, don’t be afraid to leave your heels at home. Look instead for cute but comfortable wedges if you’re planning to dress up while on vacation. They will give you the style and height you want without making your feet hurt from extended periods of walking.

  • Too heavy

Weight is something that’s often overlooked when choosing comfortable travel shoes for women. No matter how comfortable or supportive they are, if your shoes are too heavy, they can negatively impact your travel experience. If you’re walking around in shoes that put too much additional weight on your foot, your steps will be heavier and you’ll get tired much quicker. Heavy shoes can also weigh down your suitcase, which may make a difference in the amount of money you pay to have your baggage checked before boarding your flight. Avoid these problems by selecting shoes that are as lightweight as they are comfortable.