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What is Unified Messaging?
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People often use many different devices to communicate, including wireless phones, personal digital assistants (PDA) , personal computers, thin clients, desk phones, and fax machines. The need to manage so many different devices and modes of interaction results in barriers to efficient communication. The goal of unified communications involves breaking down these communication barriers so that people using different modes of communication, different media, and different devices can still communicate to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Unified messaging (sometimes referred to as the unified messaging system or UMS) is the handling of voice, fax, and regular text messages as objects in a single mailbox that a user can access either with a regular e-mail client or by telephone. The PC user can open and play back voice messages, assuming their PC has multimedia capabilities. Fax images can be saved or printed.

A user can access the same mailbox by telephone. In this case, ordinary e-mail notes in text are converted into audio files and played back using Text-to-Speech technology.

Unified messaging is particularly convenient for mobile business users because it allows them to reach colleagues and customers through a PC or telephone, whichever happens to be available. Some services offer worldwide telephone access.

Enhanced UM/UC functions of UM systems, including routing and call connection and completion capabilities, such as find me/follow me, live reply, call screening/filtering, speech access to calendar information, and integration with instant messaging and presence capabilities help enterprises improve worker productivity while reducing operating expenses and contributing to increased revenues.

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