Unified messaging allows a business to expand access to voicemail, e-mail, and fax from one inbox. This technology proves convenient as you can chose the device most convenient for you: a laptop, a computer, a mobile phone or desk phone.
In its most basic form, Unified messaging sends a copy of a voicemail from a corporate voicemail server to an individual’s e-mail inbox. What’s so intriguing about that, you ask?
Now that voicemail is in an e-mail form, you can send it to anyone in the world. No longer are you restricted to just forwarding to others on the same voicemail system. You can also store that voicemail electronically with all your e-mail correspondences, and access them quickly with ease and organization. This administrative method replaces the traditional routine of having to sort through endless voicemails using a keypad interface on your phone to retrieve a message that may be 20 deep in your office voicemail.
Optimal interface for traveling employees
Today, most traveling business professionals have remote access to their e-mail. They plug in at a hotel or local wireless hotspot, and boom; they can access e-mail as if they were sitting at their office desk. Well, what about voicemail, you ask? With your voicemail being sent to your inbox, you no longer have to dial up the company voicemail system to retrieve your messages. All you need is a speaker on your computer.
These are the basics of Unified Communications, but some manufacturers take it a step further. Have you ever witnessed a person incessantly banging away with two thumbs on a tiny cell phone keypad? Simply add the text-to-speech module to the Unified platform, and you can have your e-mails read to you while you drive. You can even reply after you hear the message. The communications platform captures your voice in a wave file and instantly returns the e-mail. The best part is that it works with any standard cell phone.
Corporate Instant Messaging and Presence
Another feature of some Unified platforms is instant messaging. Secure to your office network, you are free of concerns about employees lack of productivity or the spread of viruses to your network. It can be used to send messages to individuals, distribution lists, or companywide in a secure, non-threatening fashion. In addition, you will have access to a corporate directory showing the presence of all workers on the network. You will know immediately if they are on the phone, logged out of the network, in a meeting, or out on vacation.
Simple greeting/phone setting administration
Client software can pull up a menu and quickly change a phone greeting to one of many different options (vacation, gone home, out to lunch, etc.). You can also change other phone settings from a Web interface like putting the phone in do not disturb or forwarding your phone to another number such as your cell phone. A clever feature on one Unified platform is the ability to program all of your greetings for an entire year and use a time and day setting to activate and deactivate the greetings automatically.
Some Unified platforms also integrate in faxing to the desktop. All that is needed is a direct inward dial (DID) number for the inbox you want the faxes to route to. This technology is ideal for lawyers, doctors, and mobile employees – any professional who sends confidential documents on a frequent basis, or needs to retrieve faxes electronically.
The ability to synchronize your telephone message greeting with your calendar meeting settings is a feature of some Unified platforms. It allows callers to know when you are in meetings, on vacation, and when you will be available.
Client software can be loaded on some smart phones allowing the mobile user to have all the Unified features he would have sitting at his desk. Access to co-workers presence and instant messaging from a mobile device allows mobile workers access to office personnel as if they were in the office.