Is Unified Messaging for You?

Patrick Payette

I like to think of voice mail as nothing but a failed attempt at communication.  That’s really what it is; you’ve tried to reach me on the phone, you failed, and now you’re leaving me a minute-long diatribe that takes me just as long to access as it does to listen.  This has been the story of “plain old voice mail” for decades, and one that needs to change.  The answer for some has been to simply let their mailboxes fill up, and then never empty them.  I think a better solution would be to enhance the tools that people already use to leverage voice messaging.

Unified messaging, a subset of unified communications, has been commonly accepted as the integration of voice messages, fax messaging, and email messages into a single repository.  The simplest way to experience this is to integrate a voice mail system with enterprise email.  This way when someone leaves me a voice message, I can review it from my email client on my PC, through web-mail on the internet, or using the mail application on my smart phone.

There are several voice messaging solutions out there that give you this type of functionality: Microsoft Exchange UM, Avaya Modular Messaging, Avaya Aura® Messaging, etc.  There are even services available, like Mutare EVM, that enable non-integrated voice mail systems (like Intuity Audix) to talk to your enterprise email.  The first question, however, should not be, “Which solution is right for me?”  No, instead, the first question should be, “Is this something my organization really wants to do?”

Consider the following:  Most public offices (if not all) have a policy in place regarding email as public record.  This means that electronic records, like email, are subject to the same retention rules as paper documents and are subject to public access.  If you were to integrate all voice messaging into your email environment, would they be subject to a seven-year retention policy?  It’s something worth thinking about.

Moreover, integrating voice messages into email can have repercussions with regard to storage.  Whereas a typical email message might range from 15-50KB in storage, a typical one-minute voice message can range from 450-500KB.  Again, it’s something worth thinking about.

If the answer to that first question, “Is this something my organization wants to do,” is in the affirmative, then there are several solutions from which to choose.  Which leads to the next question: “Which solution is right for me?”  The easiest answer to this question should be that you choose the solution that has the easiest adoption for your end users.  If it’s not easy to use, they’re not going to use it.

A solution like Mutare EVM has the capability of integrating with virtually any email solution out there.  EVM takes the voice message, acts as a middle-man, and delivers a copy of that voice message to the email address of the users choosing.  This functionality is further enhanced by the ability to transcribe the voice message into text, so that the recipient may read the voice message instead of having to listen to it.

Avaya Modular Messaging, on the other hand, has native integration to Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino.  This allows voice calls to be handled by the Avaya product, but delivered into a users email inbox.  When a new voice message arrives it appears in-line with all received emails.  Avaya’s solution has enticing licensing incentives for existing Avaya customers, which helps to mitigate the costs associated with deploying a unified messaging solution.

Microsoft Exchange UM has the same integration points, but all of the call handling of voice messages is handled by Exchange itself.  An Avaya or Nortel PBX, for example, can send the voice call to Exchange where it is processed and delivered using the Microsoft product.  Exchange UM may allow current Microsoft customers to leverage the existing product that’s already installed.

You might think that this is a lot of information for voice mail, a “failed attempt at communication,” as I called it.  It’s only a failure if the user doesn’t have an easy way of checking it.  Unified messaging provides that easy way, to the point where sometimes they don’t even have to listen to it at all; they can just read it now.

Patrick’s wealth of knowledge and ability to communicate complex subjects in easy to understand ways make him an ideal leader within the Unified Communications community. His focus on customer service is exceptional which makes him a great asset to Arrow S3. Patrick's experience includes:

  • Certifications include: MCP, MCSA, MCSE, MCTS, Convergence TechnologiesProfessional, ACA - Implement: Modular Messaging, ACA - Design: Modular Messaging.
  • B.S.B.A. Management of Information Systems - University of Central Florida.

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