Voicemail Replacement

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Voicemail Replacement Featured Article

October 14, 2009

Interactive Intelligence's Messaging Interaction Center: The Ultimate Voicemail Replacement Solution

By Patrick Barnard, Senior Web Editor, TMCnet

Voicemail has served the corporate world well during the past three decades -- ever since Gordon Matthews received the first patent for voicemail back in 1979.

But with businesses increasingly gravitating to IP telephony and unified communications, standard voicemail is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Today, businesses are replacing their legacy voicemail systems with robust, full-featured unified messaging solutions that integrate voicemail, email, chat, IP fax and phone all on a single platform, thus enabling employees to communicate and collaborate using multiple channels without having to constantly switch applications.
 
Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) Messaging Interaction Center (MIC) is one such unified messaging solution. With this innovative, all-in-one, application-driven messaging system, organizations can effectively and affordably streamline communications and boost employee productivity.

With MIC, employees can retrieve voicemails, emails and faxes all from the same user interface on their PCs (or, with optional mobile client, from their mobile devices), bringing a new level of awareness and immediacy to all communications. The system, which can be integrated with Microsoft Exchange Server, IBM (News - Alert) Lotus Notes and or Sun iPlanet Mail Server (or all three simultaneously if needed), delivers an email-like interface, with all emails, IP faxes and voice message alerts displayed in the user’s “inbox.”

Messaging Interaction Center offers a level of scalability and flexibility that traditional voicemail systems cannot deliver. Because it is software-based, it is capable of supporting up to hundreds of thousands of mailboxes. This extreme scalability is important to organizations that plan to grow -- or which tend to scale up and down in size due to business cycles. One of the drawbacks of traditional voicemail systems is that they don’t scale easily -- very often a company has to buy a whole new system, or at least additional hardware, in order to support additional users. In addition, MIC can be readily deployed across multiple, geographically dispersed offices or locations.

Another huge advantage of MIC is its flexibility, both in terms of deployment and on-going administration: A company can integrate only those channels which it desires – for example, just voicemail and email – thus allowing it to tailor the solution to meet its exact needs. The system can be readily expanded to include additional channels -- and, because it is based on Interactive Intelligence’s SIP–based call routing platform, customers have a smooth migration path to the company’s flagship unified communications system, Customer Interaction Center (CIC), should they want to upgrade to a more full-featured unified communications system.
 
Also enabling new levels of flexibility is MIC’s Web-based administration, which allows users to retrieve voicemails, emails and IP faxes from any computer with an Internet connection. The Web-based interface enables users to set their individual preferences – regardless of whether they are working in the main office or a remote location. For example, if a manager is going to be away on vacation and can only be reached via email, he can record a personal voicemail greeting saying, in essence, “I am away on vacation this week and can only be reached via email.” In this regard the system delivers a level of end-user control that traditional voicemail doesn’t even come close to.

Perhaps more importantly, Web-based administration allows IT staff or managers to quickly and easily configure the system on a per-site or even per-user basis. This makes it simple to add/drop users or define access permissions for each user (or each department) based on business rules, corporate policy and/or an individual user’s specific needs. This flexibility and ease-of-use is important to organizations that don’t want to spend a lot of time and/or IT resources getting new employees set-up on the system (or removing former employees from the system) or modifying existing user accounts.

MIC’s voicemail functionality replicates existing telephone user interfaces to minimize user retraining. The system works with existing PBX (News - Alert) phone systems, Centrex systems, or in any SIP-based VoIP network.

One of the system’s more advanced features is its presence capability. Presence gives users the ability to view the availability status, or “presence” of other users on the network. With presence, it is possible to find out if a user is at their desk, temporarily away from their desk, on vacation, on business travel or working at a remote location. What’s more, presence can be used to specify the channel, or channels a user can be reached on at any given point in time: For example, a user who is going to be in a meeting might set the system so they can only receive emails and faxes, while all phone calls are directed to voicemail. What’s more, a user can set the system so that they can only receive messages from other specific users.
 
Another advanced feature is the system’s auto attendant with speech recognition capabilities. With MIC’s auto attendant feature, callers have more control over the routing of their calls. For exmaple they have the option of either dialing by extension or speech-enabled “dial-by-name,” by way of integration with the corporate directory. What’s more the system’s integrated IVR lets company employees manage messages, place calls, change presence management settings, and search contacts using voice commands.
 
Finally, customers can easily build on MIC's unified messaging and collaboration with additional enhanced messaging features including:

--One-number Find-Me/Follow-Me
--Universal message access and notification options
--Calendar and contact management
--User-defined rule-based call routing
--Call screening and automatic callback
--Pre-integrated knowledge management
--Desktop, inbound and IVR faxing
--Workgroup and departmental broadcast messaging
 
To learn more about Interactive Intelligence’s Messaging Interaction Center platform, check out this recent interview with Mark Kowal, manager of product marketing at Interactive Intelligence, or click here.

Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard



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