Leading telecommunications manufacturers in the U.S. market continue to introduce advanced messaging features, including speech recognition, text-to-speech, conversation record, e-mail integration and networking to help businesses increase productivity and improve customer service. While distribution lists, dial by name and broadcast are among popular messaging features available for some time, newer features address a growing mobile workplace and a focus on “24/7” availability that keeps workers connected to customers and colleagues at all times. Mobile workers benefit from multi-lingual text-to-speech for reading e-mail over a phone and voice-activated commands to log into a mailbox, dial a phone number, record calls, configure a mailbox and even compose e-mail using the phone.
Database publisher and analyst group TelecomTactics finds that advanced messaging features are quickly entering the market. Specifically, the number of messaging systems supporting speech recognition, text-to-speech and conversation record has more than doubled during the last few years. Over 15% of current messaging platforms from leading telecommunications manufacturers support a speech recognition capability, while over one fourth support text-to-speech functionality and nearly one half allow workers to record conversations. Further, roughly 60% of messaging platforms on the market today support some form of e-mail integration that consolidates voice and e-mail messages for easy access.
Businesses benefit from new and unique messaging functionality such as the “Acknowledge” feature from AVST for call answering and management in a mobile environment. As an enhancement to AVST’s Seneca speech-enabled module for the CallXpress unified communication platform, Acknowledge lets mobile users speak the word “acknowledge” into their phones to record a personalized message to the caller such as the reason for not accepting the call and when they will call back. Active Voice targets small businesses and large multi-site corporations with its Windows-based Kinesis server for managing voice, fax, and e-mail messages from a Microsoft Outlook inbox, telephone or the Internet. Users can access calendars and listen to e-mail over a phone using optional text-to-speech technology. The latest version of Kinesis adds new features, including the Shared Extension Mailbox feature that enables multiple subscribers to share an extension, but have individual greetings.
Additional speech-enabled solutions include Avaya’s Advanced Speech Access software that enables mobile workers to access messages “anytime, anywhere ,” using voice commands to interact with e-mail, voice mail, fax, calendar and contact information and even set up conference calls. The latest release of Nortel Networks’ CallPilotSpeech Activated Messaging application, which also lets users navigate their mailbox with spoken commands and listen to e-mail over a telephone, has been enhanced with network broadcast, date/time stamp adjustment for time zones and remote e-mail notification to a mobile e-mail device such as RIM Blackberry.
Popular among smaller telephony platforms is built-in voice mail that eliminates the need for external voice mail equipment. 3Com’s new NBX V3000 IP Telephony system comes with standard 4-port voice mail (400 storage hours) that can be expanded to 12 or 72 ports. Optionally, businesses can take advantage of 3Com IP Messaging software for centralized voice mail, fax mail and e-mail services and text-to-speech. Alcatel’s OmniPCX Office for smaller businesses includes a two- to eight-port voice mail capability (200 storage hours) and an embedded e-mail server for handling text and voice messages via a PC or telephone set. ESI’s IVX systems also have an integrated voice mail and auto attendant capability with popular voice messaging features and the o ptional Virtually Integrated Phone (VIP) communication management tool for on-screen call control using Microsoft Outlook, as well as unified messaging, contact management, call logging and station programming.
Another cost-effective option is a voice mail/auto attendant card that installs directly into a telephone system and does not require cabling, telephone ports or separate battery backup. Samsung’s SVMi-16E voice mail/auto attendant card for the iDCS 500 system, provides 8, 12 or 16 ports (simultaneous calls) and up to 140 hours of message storage with a hard disk drive or 18 hours with Compact Flash. Toshiba ’s Stratagy iES32 card option (up to 32 ports and 600 storage hours) offers a good selection of basic features, as well as advanced features such as Call Record to Voice Mail, Extension Status Monitoring, remote upgrades and optional support for Toshiba’s Stratagy ES Feature Groups for unified messaging, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and text-to-speech. Vodavi’s XTSc or “compact” eXpandable Telephone System for small offices supports optional 8-port in-skin voice mail for 64 mailboxes and three storage hours (expandable to nine hours); Vodavi PathFinder Windows-based unified messaging enables centralized voice mail for multiple locations and combines voice, fax and e-mail messages on a desktop PC.
Visit www.telecomtactics.com and the Messaging Module to compare voice mail and unified messaging platforms from leading communications vendors – 3Com, Active Voice, Avaya, AVST, Cisco, Comdial, Mitel Networks, Nortel Networks, Panasonic, Samsung, Siemens, Toshiba and many more.
Sandra M. Gustavsen
Analyst/TelecomTactics, Access Intelligence LLC
1111 Marlkress Road, Suite 203
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003