Email and Voice Together?
Michael Osterman writes about integrating voice with email , and I couldn't help but respond in a comment.
Michael: voice is real-time. IM is real-time. Email is not real-time. UC is most often about integrating the real-time services together: voice, IM, conferencing. This is how productivity will be improved.
Integrating the store-and-forward messaging services – email and voicemail for example – is useful but often not as big a productivity impact as integrating the real-time services. That's because when the real-time services fail to connect users, they generate a message (usually the voicemail) that often contains no useful information other than that you want something from me. Eliminating these real-time communications failures through cultural etiquette like IM first and ask if call is doable helps a great deal.
Of course, some work styles will benefit from having all the messaging – voicemail and email – store-and-forward applications integrated into one UI. There are of course, legal and economic implications (storage and archival services may be a big pain) that the messaging specialist will have to think through to align with the company priorities and policies and of course, government regulations.
Integrating voice and email is not all that practical. Although, some vendors are emerging with transcribing voicemail and then emailing it to you, it is fraught with poor translations of most words except for numbers. Chuck is both a person's name, a grade of ground beef and verb, for example. The software struggles with context, just as spam filtering software misses out in understanding the context of human communications.
For organizations that don't use IM – get on the bandwagon. It's a necessity in the social lives of today's college graduates and will be for you too, if you can overcome your nagging doubts about your own employees and their respect for policies, rules and good corporate practices. IM accelerates work.
The bigger issue is expanding the real-time services integration to include mobile employees. That's where the market really struggles to implement solutions that deliver corporate citizenship for the mobile.
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