A Siri-like intelligent voice agent for business. That’s the idea behind a new cloud-based virtual assistant called Excendia, which startup Speech Mobility says makes business phone systems smarter and safer.

The Montreal-based company said its voice-activated virtual assistant, Excendia, improves the use of business phone systems while driving, provides access to advanced features for SMBs, and offers hands-free voice access to unified messaging, including voicemail, email and calendar.

No Dial Tone

PBX-accustomed business users will have to adapt to the fact that Speech Mobility’s agent has no dial tone. To dial, the user simply says the name of the person or the number to call, and the application takes care of the rest. The idea, the company said, is that you can simply say whom you’re trying to reach, and then let Excendia query the different phone numbers for that person until the intended party is found.

Although Speech Mobility makes comparisons to Apple’s Siri, it points to several key differences, not the least of which is that the hosted Excendia will work from any phone.

Siri’s calls are routed through the wireless network, while Excendia’s uses the company’s phone service, providing centralized call logs and potentially lowering costs. Like Siri, Excendia allows listening to emails, checking calendar and scheduling meetings or reminders, but it can do this for colleagues registered with the company phone system, as well as for contacts. It also offers such consumer-like features as voice texting, voice tweeting and voice updates to your Facebook status.

Secretary, Receptionist

The cloud-based Excendia works with a variety of messaging servers, including Google Apps and Microsoft Exchange, and with switch vendors so it can be added to an existing VoIP service. The service is compatible with Broadsoft, Openface, Dialexia and babyTEL PBX solutions.

Since it can be connected to the office phone system, Excendia can have access to office phone functionality, such as listening to office voicemails, changing status and call forwarding, listening and replying to emails, or calling back from the office call logs.

Excendia can also act as a personal secretary to answer calls, greet callers by name, employ user status to filter calls, forward calls based on user preferences, or act as an office receptionist to answer and route calls to employees from the main office number.

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The company is also offering a speech-enabled, Asterisk-based, Excendia-powered, hosted PBX called Evatel, which it described as “the world’s first cloud-based multi-service, multi-tenant business phone system that comes with a built-in virtual assistant.” Evatel is intended for smaller service providers, and it can be customized for specific industries, such as real estate or insurance.