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Corporate Solutions
March 2000


Carol Drzewianowski Clean Up With Unified Messaging


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Corporate Solutions News

Launch A Successful UM Application

Weve heard all about the benefits of unified messaging. Its like a really great closet organizer that keeps all of your pants, shirts, shoes, and hats neatly in one place. You open your closet door, and there are all of your clothes. Likewise, with unified messaging, you open up your messaging program, and there you find voice mail, e-mail, fax messages, and sometimes even video, all in easy view, ready for you to review as needed.

Fueled by IP networks and the Web, unified messaging is seeing a new incarnation as a service offering. Recent developments of software offerings and hardware tools make it possible to create powerful and customizable unified messaging services. But unified messaging is more complex than single-media applications.

One option is subscribing to a unified messaging service via an application service provider (ASP). Interactive Intelligence, developer of the Enterprise Interaction Center (EIC) communications server, announced that it has acquired 19 percent of Interactive Portal, an ASP which plans to offer a wide variety of subscription-based, enhanced communications and application services. Interactive Portal plans to provide unified messaging, one-number follow-me, conferencing, appointment scheduling, and other virtual office services on a monthly subscription basis to home office workers, mobile workers, and businesses of all sizes. The company will use a new Interactive Intelligence product, EIC for Service Providers, as the basis for its offerings.

But what if this option isnt right for you? Eicon Technology recently introduced the DIVA Server Suite Version 2.5, software that helps with the management of Eicons line of ISDN Server hardware. This software also helps give network administrators the tools they need to efficiently set up and manage ISDN remote access servers for unified messaging. The use of ISDN for unified messaging servers makes a lot of sense for both corporate and home office users, as multiple media types can be integrated over a single line, and the necessary advanced communications features (caller ID and call forwarding) are supported more efficiently than other forms of connectivity, such as analog or T1 lines (this allows a corporation to put up a unified messaging server that can then transfer calls back to the PBX, in case a remote employee decides to push 0 for the operator, for example).

No matter what your specific needs are, there is a unified messaging solution out there that can help simplify communication, and streamline the way employees do work. This section examines a few options in this area to get you started.

Corporate Solutions News

55,000+ Clients Using OfficeDomains Integrated Messaging Service
HO2 Partners L.L.C. has led a $5 million private placement in OfficeDomain, the developer of a client-based unified messaging platform that has over 55,000 users worldwide. According to HO2 general partner Charles B. Humphreyson, OfficeDomain is an excellent investment opportunity. The explosion of voice, fax, and e-mail messaging systems creates a huge demand for unified messaging services, Humphreyson said. OfficeDomains management team has a proven track record for growing technology businesses, and its core product, Message ASAP, offers benefits that are far ahead of its competitors. Supported by the financial resources and industry contacts of HO2 and our prominent co-investors, we believe OfficeDomain can capture the lions share of the emerging unified messaging market.
No. 520, www.comsolmag.com/freeinfo

Interactive Intelligence Rolls Out New Features For EIC
Interactive Intelligence has rolled out the latest upgrade to its Enterprise Interaction Center (EIC). This software update, known as EIC 1.3-B, makes performance improvements and adds major new features targeted at service providers, enterprises, and call centers. Previous versions of EIC integrated well with Microsoft Exchange Server and Lotus Notes for unified messaging. EIC 1.3-B adds support for any e-mail platform supporting the popular SMTP and IMAP protocols including Novell Groupwise and Sun/Netscape Messaging Server. EIC 1.3-Bs SMTP/IMAP functionality is designed for enterprises as well as large-scale service providers needing to handle hundreds of thousands of mailboxes.
No. 521, www.comsolmag.com/freeinfo

PhoneSoft And VSI Fuse Technologies
PhoneSoft and VSI have announced the global roll-out of a pure Notes unified messaging solution for Lotus Notes Release 5 (R5). PhoneSofts Unified Messaging for Lotus Notes product, in its newest release, supports VSIs VSI-FAX for Notes 3.0.1. The combination of features offered in each companys products addresses the worldwide market demand for unified messaging with fax capabilities for enterprise-wide communications. VSI-FAX for Notes is recommended by PhoneSoft as the enterprise fax solution for PhoneSofts unified messaging product because of its pure Notes integration tools, ease of administration, and reliability.
No. 522, www.comsolmag.com/freeinfo

RedRock Technologies Offers Free, Unified Messaging Solution
RedRock Messaging, the messaging services arm of RedRock Technologies, has announced the release of its free, flagship service RedMsg.com. RedMsg.com is a complete unified messaging solution providing flexible access options and powerful communications services to enable users to retrieve and respond to e-mail, voice mail, and fax messages anytime, anywhere in the world. Designed for mobile business professionals and private users alike, RedMsg.com enables members to keep in contact conveniently and simply via secure access whether they are out of town on business, on the way home from work, or visiting friends and family.
No. 523, www.comsolmag.com/freeinfo

serVonic Announces New Features For ixiFAMILY
serVonic has unveiled the latest features of the ixiFAMILY, allowing users to access their unified messaging service independent of e-mail system, time, and location. ixiFAMILY enables the user to access and manage messages anywhere and at any time. With ixiCTI the user can make a phone call directly out of a PC application, such as Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Access, Lotus Notes, and R/3 address books.

The ixiMOBILE service enables the user to access an e-mail system while away from the office using a mobile phone. The SMTP-support of serVonic's ixiFAMILY takes advantage of Internet standards, so users can access unified messaging independently of the basic e-mail system. There is also a voice-controlled menu that allows users to access all messages, or only the new ones.
No. 524, www.comsolmag.com/freeinfo

Rare Medium Group Acquires Notus Communications
Rare Ventures, the investment arm of Rare Medium Group, announced that it has completed the acquisition of Notus Communications, a privately held Internet communications company that has developed a business-to-business Internet unified messaging technology solution. This acquisition by Rare Medium Group continues the companys commitment to building a multi- dimensional business-to-business Internet Telephony Group within the Rare Medium Group portfolio. This is Rare Mediums sixth incubator company. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
No. 525, www.comsolmag.com/freeinfo

AVT-Sponsored Study Demonstrates Rapid ROI For Unified Messaging
AVT Corporation has announced the results of its unified messaging return on investment study, which indicates tremendous time and cost savings using the AVT CallXpress unified messaging solution in both a Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange environment. Results from the study, analyzed by Comgroup, an independent telecommunications consulting firm, and available on the AVT Web site, showed that both office and remote employees can gain a significant increase in productive time using the CallXpress unified messaging solution. Utilizing the AVT solution, mobile users experienced a time-savings gain of 70 percent as compared with the traditional means of checking messages. The first facet of the study compared users who were able to review and manage all of their voice, fax, and e-mail messages over the telephone using CallXpress unified messaging with those who check messages on the road the conventional way by calling in over the telephone to listen to voice messages; calling an assistant at the main office to send faxes to the nearest fax machine; and connecting to the Internet with a laptop computer to download and check e-mails.
No. 526, www.comsolmag.com/freeinfo

Call Sciences, Nuance Team Up
Call Sciences announced that it has formed a partnership with Nuance to add a natural language interface to its unified communications management services, including its flagship Personal Assistant product. With the new voice-driven capabilities, telecommunications carriers can offer a service which will give subscribers the ability to speak naturally to retrieve, browse, control, and respond to voice, fax, and e-mail messages. Call Sciences will also offer Personal Assistant with the Nuance-powered natural language interface directly to consumers through its direct sales division, Virtel. Call Sciences unified communications management services enable subscribers to manage messages from multiple devices including PCs, Web browsers, and telephones. Nuances family of speech recognition and voice authentication products provide extremely high accuracy, scalability, and reliability, which is essential for carrier-grade services such as unified messaging and voice portals. Through the integration of Nuance software with Call Sciences Personal Assistant product, carriers and ISPs are able to offer a convenient service with an easy-to-use voice interface.
No. 527, www.comsolmag.com/freeinfo

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Launch A Successful UM Application

Whether youre a service provider or an enterprise, there are a few critical steps you must follow in order to successfully launch a unified messaging (UM) application. Here we will discuss four steps that will lead you to success.

The RFP process is the time to identify your needs based on your business goals and match your requirements against the vendors bidding for your business. Dont shortchange yourself at this stage. The better job you do up front, the better off youll be in the long term. Be sure to ask questions about the reliability and scalability of the UM product, and ask what networks are supported now and what will be in the future IP and wireless might not mean anything to you today, but it could a year from now. Verify that it is true unified messaging that it has a single message store, no synchronization process is required, and that all media types like voice mail, e-mail, and fax are accessed and managed from any terminal.

Other questions you should ask include:

  • How modular is the solution?
  • Is it easy to bundle services for various classes of users?
  • Are voice recognition or multilingual text-to-speech offered as enhanced services?
  • What kind of Internet support is offered?

Dont be afraid to ask the vendor about future plans for emerging technologies that you might want to take advantage of later like WAP (wireless application protocol) and video.

The next critical stage is implementation. Many good applications get a bad name because the implementation is poorly done. Look to your vendor to help you through this phase. They should give you a checklist of things that need to be done before the equipment even comes in the door from making sure theres enough room for equipment, to ensuring plugs are conveniently located, to checking that the right number of lines are ordered and live at installation, to confirming that the vendor knows how to integrate with your switch.

It is always wise to roll out a new application to a small group of users first the early adopters for whom the solution is critical. Work closely with your vendor to ensure the interface works well with your users, and confim that proper training and documentation is available when the application is launched. Follow-up is also key. Its not enough to just turn on the switch, hand out literature to users, and then leave. Within a week or two, while users are still experimenting with the system, vendors should be available to answer any questions.

Finally, plan for the ongoing operation of the application. Understand how the system is run before the vendor hands over the keys to you. In the RFP stage, ask about the administration features of the system and the interfaces used. Make sure your people are trained to properly operate the system. And before you sign on the dotted line, know how problems are going to be handled after the application is deployed. What kinds of warranties are available; what kind of support do they offer; and are they committed to making sure your application is up?

Remember, you and your vendor should work as partners. If you do, youll have a lasting relationship that will ensure your unified messaging application runs smoothly and that you will be able to stay ahead of the technology curve, helping you reduce churn and remain competitive.

Jan Bergeron is marketing manager of Nokia Intelligent Applications. For more information, visit the companys Web site at nokia.com

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