Don’t Miss the “Unified Messaging” Boat in UC!
Because UC is complex and still evolving as a technology and as a service, we find vendors, bloggers, and columnists racing to put their spin on what UC is going to do to business communications. In many cases, unified messaging (UM) capabilities are confused with what UC is about, but a recent TechTarget article endorsed the practical use of hosted UC services for SMB business, but failed to include the power of unified messaging (UM) as a complement to real-time telephony and IM under UC. Amy Larsen DeCarlo, principal analyst with Current Analysis, was correct when she hesitated to call many of the hosted offerings unified communications instead used the term “unified collaboration”. Hosted UC services lack real-time contacts like IM and presence-based telephone connections because those features are considered “frilly features” not demanded by the majority of hosted SMB customers.
UC providers know that presence technology is waiting to be standardized and “federated” outside of enterprise organizations to maximize the in real-time business communications. However, asynchronous text messaging is becoming more practical for most business processes. This trend is accelerating due to the rapid adoption of mobile multi-modal devices, immediate message notification, SMS, “push” email delivery, and the recipient’s independent control over message retrieval and response through unified messaging (UM) capabilities.
While hosted UC services are practical for SMB’s, there was no mention of the powerful role UM plays in UC enabling contact recipients to dynamically retrieve and selectively respond to either text or messages in any way they needed to, regardless of how the message was originated. Such flexibility is key to minimizing “human latency” and business process efficiency, especially when people are not available for real-time connections. Today’s business communication needs all contact options, real-time and asynchronous, to be interface independent. It is important that end users initiate and respond to contacts as their work circumstances and time priorities permit.
UC’s power is its flexibility for all types of users using a variety of communication avenues. The exploitation of screen interfaces by the likes of Apple’s iPhone has set the stage for multimodal interfaces that can be controlled by end users to dynamically initiate and retrieve messaging contacts. With the availability of “click to connect,” asynchronous unified messaging can now exploit presence capabilities to efficiently shift into a real-time communication exchange. Jeff Cayer, group manager for voice at Verizon Business was right when he advocated for a more “expansive” UC, but didn’t go far enough when he failed to include UM as a key element of mobile UC for the business user marketplace in hosted service offerings.
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