Email, Fax, Phone – Can It Be Unified?

For some of you, checking email, then checking voice mail, then checking your fax machine is a PAIN. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one service that can handle everything in ONE in box?
Investor’s Business Daily (via Yahoo) writes “Unified communications has been viewed as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have application,” said Ronald Gruia, an analyst at market research firm Frost & Sullivan.
Sellers of unified communications usually sell to corporations and Internet access providers. Usually, the sellers install the system. Because it has to work in many environments, integration is a difficult job.
Data reside in many places, and the unified communications system needs to deliver all types of messages to a variety of devices — wireline phones, cell phones, desktop PCs, laptops and handhelds. So the software must be flexible.
And data must be transformed. Voice mail needs to become e-mail, a pager voice message needs to become a short text message.
Technically, these are tough tasks. Aside from those challenges, unified communications vendors face a moving target. New communications types, such as instant messaging, surface and gain importance.