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February 12, 2008

Comverse-Sponsored Survey Shows Increasing User Interest in Visual Voicemail Solutions

By Patrick Barnard, Senior Web Editor, TMCnet


Comverse (News - Alert), a leading provider of service delivery platforms and billing solutions to the multi-play service provider market, has released the results of a survey showing that there is increasingly strong interest in visual voicemail applications among both users and wireless operators.

Visual voicemail is technology that lets a mobile user see their voicemail messages in list form on the screen of their mobile device -- and in some instances read what was said rather than having to listen to the message. The ability to view voicemail in menu fashion means a user can select which voicemails he or she wants to listen to at any given moment, leaving the other voicemails stored on the voicemail server to be accessed at another point in time. In this sense, the technology lets a user prioritize their voicemail inbox, and respond immediately to voicemails which are deemed important. In addition the ability to read the content of the voicemail message means that in many cases a user can get the “gist” of the message more quickly, rather than having to listen to an entire message.

Comverse’s Visual Voicemail Suite gives users immediate access to each individual voicemail in their inbox with just the click of a button. The information-rich inbox enables a user to see the date, time and duration of the message, as well as the caller ID, if available on the network. Message management features include one-touch call return, save and delete, and integration with handset- and network- based address books. The suite includes several visual voicemail access solutions, including Handset Client Access, which facilitates “email-like message management capabilities, SMS-like instantaneous access, and the expressiveness of voice;” 3G Access, which facilitates “video messaging and sharing capabilities via a dynamic and innovative Video User Interface (VUI):” MMS Access, which “pushes messages immediately to a user’s MMS-enabled device with immediate click-to-access” and lets the user “personalize the voice messaging experience with multimedia attachments, such as animated GIFs and talking avatars;” Web Access, a convenient Web-based visual interface which is fully synchronized with the user’s voice mailbox; and Email Access, which “sends voicemail messages with a WAV attachment to selected email addresses.”

Results of the survey commissioned by Comverse and carried out by market research company Synovate in the UK and Germany show that there is increasing interest in visual voicemail applications – obviously in particular from the enterprise and SMB market segments. According to the company, more than 80 percent of the approximately 800 respondents who took the survey described visual voicemail as a “useful value-added service.” Further, 75 percent of respondents said they consider visual voicemail “somewhat-to-extremely interesting” and about one third said they would retrieve (listen to) more messages with Visual Voicemail on their mobile phone, thus demonstrating that the solution can help boost collaboration and productivity among mobile users.

When respondents were asked what they like about visual voicemail, 44 percent said they like the ability to view all voicemail messages at a glance, in any order, with full details, and 35 percent said they like the idea of an email-like interface. Another 34 percent said they like the idea of immediate receipt of messages and one-click retrieval with no need to dial in, and, additionally, 34 percent said they like the concept of being able to reply, forward, save and delete voicemail messages from the same screen/interface.

Comverse’s visual voicemail solution offers all of these features and more.

In addition, 60 percent of respondents showed some level of interest in having a Converged Mailbox (i.e. a single mailbox for all of their voicemails, whether home, mobile or office) with access from any device (mobile, fixed-line, PC). Also demonstrating the strong interest in the capabilities of these solutions, about 60 percent said they were intrigued by the concept of having easy access to ample personal space for storing, organizing and sharing personal files (pictures, videos), contacts, and messages of all types (voicemail, email, SMS, etc.).

Comverse says the results of the survey fall right in line with its “3 screen” strategies for mobile, PC and TV.

“By deploying Comverse solutions, service providers can offer truly integrated converged communication services customized to consumer lifestyles and delivered over multiple access networks, which can lead to stronger customer relationships. This is an important strategic direction many operators are taking to enhance their competitive positions,” said James Colby, Vice President of Marketing for Comverse Americas, in a company statement. “The service provider capable of simplifying services for the user while at the same time providing a richer communication experience will benefit from a highly attractive offer that can stimulate revenues and encourage customer loyalty.”

Certainly, many users here in the U.S. also have a keen interest in visual voicemail technology and it would be interesting to see the results of the survey were it carried out on these shores as well.

“Consumers and their wireless operators are telling us they want visual voicemail and this research gives quantitative confirmation,” said Comverse Chief Marketing Officer John Bunyan, in a press release. “Comverse’s industry leadership is reflected not only by our dominant market share in visual voicemail, but also by the way that we lead and shape the evolving market. This is another way we can help carriers build the best available customer experiences.”

In a related announcement, Comverse’s Visual Voicemail has been nominated as a finalist for the 2008 GSMA (News - Alert) Global Mobile Award for Best Mobile Messaging Service.

Comverse made news on TMCnet earlier this month when it announced that Australian triple play service provider AUSTAR had upgraded its billing system with the next-generation Comverse Kenan FX Billing Solution. The real time billing platform operates seamlessly with Comverse’s other solutions covering content delivery, multimedia messaging, and call completion/call management. Part of Comverse’s billing portfolio, Kenan FX enables operators to increase market agility and improve operational efficiency. The platform offers an advanced set of customer lifecycle management software solutions — from ordering and activation to charging and payments — and supports a range of communication services, including fixed, mobile and interactive. Coming in a modular framework for full flexibility, the solution is designed for the converging communications market.

Comverse’s goal is to provide end users with an intuitive solution for all communications that hides the underlying technology from the user and ensures that communication is straightforward – regardless of the device or network either party is using. Comverse solutions focus on the consumer and how they want to actually use their communication services.

For more information about Comverse Converged IP Communications, e-mail info@comverse.com or visit www.comverse.com.

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