September03

Unified messaging: Features of any UC platform for SMBs and Corporations

A very important aspect in today’s business dynamics is how to integrate all your communication tools under a single platform. Whether we are talking about a small business or a large corporation, integration is becoming vital. Usually, for small businesses, we are talking about integration open source platforms and enhancing minimal investments. For corporations, there is Microsoft UC platform. In both cases, the needs are the same. It is a matter of investments and of allocated budget.

Here’s a list with the main features of any Unified Messaging platform:

Presence Information

Finding out the state of the others Presence information lets people know whether others are available (online, away, busy, in a meeting, out to lunch). People can publish their availability so others know how best to reach them. The system comes with automation features; for example, if a user has not touched the keyboard or mouse for a set number of minutes, that user’s presence information turn to “away.” Other states are also available: “in a meeting,” “on the phone,” “out of the office,” “free in x hours.” With IP telephony enabled, one can also click and call another from the desktop. If the person is traveling, for example, it is easy to click to find her mobile number and make contact that way, or indeed IM on her mobile phone. If the recipient is not available online, one knows to send emails or leave a voice message, which can be received as a WAV file embedded in an email and managed in Outlook.

Instant Messaging

Better Instant Communication Instant messaging (IM) is the capability to send and receive text messages in real time over the internet or a corporate network. The recipient typically sees an alert on the desktop indicating an incoming message and from whom. Enterprise IM maintains this capability within and increasingly beyond the corporate network, adding security that does not exist with public IM systems like AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, and Google Talk.

Web & Videoconferencing

Cost and Time Savings Ad hoc Web and videoconferencing improves efficiency in real-time decision-making by providing easy setup, links to presence management, and point-and-click conference launches. Value increases when the time to set up a videoconference drops to near zero. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Software-powered VoIP makes it possible to communicate via telephone over an IP network instead of over traditional PBX telephony infrastructure. Voice communications can be integrated with email, calendaring, voicemail/unified messaging. VoIP can significantly reduce the cost of telephone communications. Companies interviewed for this study were engaged in pilot testing of software-powered VoIP, including PC-to-PC calling using various devices and integration of voice with email, IM, and conferencing.

Fast Communication

One-Click Away We are approaching a time where all you need to find someone is his name, and all the means of contact are available immediately. Several of the organizations interviewed are looking toward a single identity for each employee that aggregates all the contact information (even individual’s areas of expertise) stored in Active Directory with some of the ways staff in the organization communicate (phone, mobile device, conferencing, IM, email, calendaring). Finding the right person becomes faster, and determining his availability and communicating via his preferred, context-dependent medium is smoothed because presence is integrated into Microsoft Office applications.

Mobility

For some organizations, mobility is an important part of their UC solutions, while for others it is an adjunct set of capabilities for select users. Certain mobile devices can run the OCS client, thus integrating the mobile phone with the individual’s presence, IM, and email. In the next post we will post about where faxing fits in any unified communication platform.

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