August 1, 2000
Sentinel did not encounter any integration hurdles since it wasn't trying to
synchronize CallXpress with any legacy systems, says Rashkovich. There are minor
issues, however, associated with the text-to-speech recognition technology that
translates e-mail messages over the phone so they can be heard. "We can listen
to e-mail although it's not always easy to recognize because the mechanical
voice that transcribes the message sometimes gets confused over the more complex
words," says Rashkovich. However, text-to-speech recognition technology is
improving and will continue to evolve with each new iteration of the software,
Another benefit to consider
Fairmont General Hospital, which has been using Active Voice's voice
products and Unity unified messaging tool for about a year, ranks the ability to
prioritize responses in all forms of communication as one of the technology's
primary benefits, says Fred Sartoris, telecommunications specialist for the
Fairmont, W. Va., hospital. One of Unity's standard features gives Fairmont
users a list of messages and a brief descriptor, allowing them to respond in
order of importance instead of in the order they were received. The hospital
encountered few bumps installing the software, since the unified messaging
installation was part of a larger program to replace a legacy phone system.
Even though the unified messaging capability is only available to
one-fourth of the hospital's 200 employees--primarily administrators, department
heads, and people who travel--Sartoris says he would not even entertain buying a
voice-mail system today that doesn't incorporate the technology.
It's the same sentiment at Royal Specialty, although there, all employees
are making use of unified messaging. And while there are still complaints about
the onerous Atlanta commute, drive time is no longer downtime--unless, of
course, employees choose to check out and enjoy the traffic. //
Beth Stackpole is a freelance writer living in Newbury, Mass. She can
be reached at email@example.com.
What's to come: the three phases of unified messaging
Introductory phase, (1998-1999):
Mass market development phase, (2000-2003):
- Unified messaging services are rolled out in advanced markets.
Early adopters include business travelers, small businesses, and Soho
subscribers, as well as heavy Internet consumers.
- Potential market is limited because e-mail is not yet critical to
many small business subscribers and most consumers. Spotty availability of
services, limited marketing, and difficulties with interoperation and
migration are other inhibitors.
- Interoperation problems prevent services from providing effective
enterprisewide systems for medium and large customers.
- First generation of personal assistant and call-stimulation
applications are rolled out independently of unified messaging, mainly on
Advanced personal communications phase, (2004-2006):
- Unified messaging increasingly seen as a necessity among power
users in all business and consumer segments, allowing adoption to grow
- Improved techniques and more widespread deployment of
interoperation standards reduce interoperation and migration barriers. The
first effective enterprisewide services become available, providing an
alternative to customer premise systems for medium and large corporations.
- Its role in differentiating service providers spawns enhanced
services with integrated personal assistants and productivity
- Services are again enhanced to become true Advanced Personal
Communications Services based on unified messaging interface.
- Growth in the mass market is rapid, with many individuals in
industrialized nations having their own unified inbox.
- Enterprisewide services attract corporate marketplace, which
increases investment in unified messaging products.
Source: Ovum Inc.