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Unified Messaging Rapidly Replacing Traditional Voicemail

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November 12, 2009

Unified Messaging Rapidly Replacing Traditional Voicemail

By Patrick Barnard, Senior Web Editor, TMCnet

Voicemail has gone from a rudimentary, stand-alone, circuit-switched solution to an integrated software application that’s standard in practically every IP telephony platform today.

These days, when a business decides its time to upgrade its legacy voicemail system, it almost invariably ends up replacing its entire phone system – especially if the organization is yet to upgrade from traditional phone service to VoIP or unified communications. In fact, some of the major vendors of legacy voicemail systems are already starting to phase out support for those systems – which means it’s just a matter of time before traditional voicemail is a thing of the past. Waiting to scoop up these customers are the major telephony software vendors, with their integrated, all-IP systems.

Organizations considering making the jump to VoIP are well-advised to consider an all-in-one IP communications platform delivering unified communications features and capabilities. While VoIP service alone is great and can help an organization drastically reduce its communications costs (especially if the organization is geographically-dispersed), unified communications – which is the bundling of all communications channels, VoIP, email, Web chat, instant messaging, fax, voicemail and conferencing, on a single software platform – brings even more value, thanks to its productivity-enhancing features and ability to streamline communications.   

A recent report from market research firm Aberdeen Group concludes that UC delivers “measurable business value” to organizations. The report, "Unified Communications: Gaining a Competitive Advantage While on the Move," claims that 79 percent of companies surveyed achieved a break-even return on their UC investment within the first 12 months. The savings was realized by streamlining internal and external communications, maximizing telecom spend, increasing productivity through improved collaboration, and reducing customer churn through increased customer responsiveness.

Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) Messaging Interaction Center (MIC) is a unified messaging solution that delivers advanced voicemail functionality. What’s more this all-IP, standard-based solution enables organizations to easily “step up” to advanced UC features and capabilities, including “presence,” which is the ability to view the availability status of others on the network. With this enterprise-grade, all-in-one, IP-based messaging system, organizations can effectively and affordably streamline communications and boost employee productivity.

Positioned as a “voicemail replacement” system, MIC is basically Interactive Intelligence’s “entry level” unified messaging system – yet it delivers many advanced capabilities, including a speech-enabled auto attendant that allows callers to dial by name or employee extension. The system, which can be integrated with Microsoft Exchange Server, IBM (News - Alert) Lotus Notes and or Sun iPlanet Mail Server, delivers an email-like interface, with all emails, IP faxes and voice message alerts displayed in the user’s “inbox.” With the optional mobile client, employees can also retrieve messages from their mobile devices, bringing a new level of awareness and immediacy to all communications.

Perhaps most importantly, the system delivers advanced voicemail functionality – and as we all know, the value and importance of voicemail has in no way been diminished due to the UC trend. With MIC, employees no longer need dial into their voicemail in order to find out if they have messages – instead, the email-like user interface alerts them how many messages are waiting (and in the case of other users on the network, from whom). What’s more, users don’t need to dial into their voicemail in order to retrieve messages – they can simply click on the alert and the message will be played, either on the PC or the desktop phone. And because the system sports Web-based administration, that means employees can retrieve their voicemails, faxes and other messages from any computer with a high speed connection. In this regard MIC is the ultimate voicemail replacement system.

Because MIC is based on Interactive Intelligence's software-based call routing platform, companies have a smooth migration path to additional UC features and functionality ­­– for example, by adding modules they can add features such as calendar and contact management, one-number “find-me,” “presence,” user-definable call handling rules and other productivity tools.

One number “find me,” or single number reach, is also an important capability for many organizations because it enables high priority calls or messages to immediately get through to employees regardless of whether they are at their desk, at a remote office, or out in the field with their mobile device. In addition, single number reach means employees no longer need to dial into a separate voicemail to retrieve messages left on their mobile number.

It’s also important to note that companies don’t necessarily have to upgrade to VoIP in order to use this solution: MIC can be integrated with existing legacy (TDM) PBXs and thus provides organizations with the opportunity to get their “feet wet” with unified messaging before making the investment in a new VoIP network.

To learn more about Interactive Intelligence’s reliable, highly-scalable and full-featured “voicemail replacement” system, click here.

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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