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After Twenty-five Years of Phone Tag, Voice Mail Comes of Age

12-13-2004
  • Latest advancements from Avaya deliver unified access to messages and global voice messaging via IP networks

Invented twenty-five years ago, the first voice messaging systems for business were a far cry from the advanced technology available today.

Invented twenty-five years ago, the first voice messagingsystems for business were a far cry from the advanced technologyavailable today. Refrigerator-sized servers were required in everyoffice and were difficult to administer. Callers often heard a"click", the sound of someone hanging up, as their only greetingbefore leaving a message. Some early systems even required twophone extensions per employee, leading to a voice mail experiencemight have gone like this:

"Hi, Bob. I'm glad you called, but I can't talk right now. Wouldyou mind calling back on 555-3456 to leave me a message?"

Huh?

Luckily, we've come a long way since then. Over the past 25years voice messaging has become integral to business. The systemshave grown more efficient and easier to use, with simpler commandsand administration. In the era of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony,voice messaging is ready to evolve again, and Avaya (NYSE: AV), aglobal provider of business communications software, systems andservices, and the world leader in voice messaging with more than100 million voice mailboxes supplied to companies around the world,is paving the way.

"At first voice mail was simply a way to have your phoneanswered automatically," said Eileen Rudden, Avaya vice presidentand general manager, Enterprise Communications Applicationspision. "Today voice messaging has become a mission-critical,dynamic component of business processes as messages become easierto access, manage and share."

Available now globally, new voice messaging solutions from Avayademonstrate how far the technology has come and why Avaya continuesto be an innovator in the market. Avaya Modular Messaging 2.0 cansupport up to 20,000 users per system. With IP telephony and IPnetworking, a single system can support multiple locations withoutrequiring separate voice mail servers at each location, providingmore application power for all users and delivering significantcost efficiencies.

With Modular Messaging 2.0, end users can now access theirmessages from their personal computers (PCs) at home or at theoffice as well as from their phones. A simple software plug-in fromAvaya enables users to access their voice messages through thepopular Microsoft® Outlook® and IBM®Lotus Notes® interfaces, making it easy to manage voicemail, e-mail and fax communications from the user's laptop ordesktop PC. The system also allows workers to use common Webinterfaces, such as Microsoft® Internet Explorer orNetscape® browsers, to surf into Modular Messaging andlisten, reply, forward and send voice, fax or text messages fromany Internet-ready PC.

Speech access software can make messaging even more easy andconvenient to use. The speech-enabled features of Avaya UnifiedCommunication Center enable mobile employees to access and managemessages, calendars, directories and tasks, as well as make phonecalls and set up conferences, from any phone, using spoken, naturallanguage commands. For instance, from a cellular phone at anairport, a worker can retrieve voice or e-mail messages andinstantly call back or reply with a message through simple verbalinteraction with the "virtual assistant," without having tomemorize and punch in keypad codes.

"Integration of voice messaging, e-mail messaging and desktopproductivity applications such as Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notescan deliver new capabilities to businesses using IP networks, "said Robert Mahowald, research manager at analyst firm IDC."Messaging products that deliver this integration are becomingeasier to implement, administer and use, which makes themincreasingly attractive for businesses with mobile workers andother priority messaging needs."

AmeriHealth Mercy Health Plan and its affiliates, serving morethan one million members is seven states, is implementing AvayaModular Messaging 2.0 throughout its organization to help servecustomers more efficiently. The project will provide workers withunified access to voice mail, e-mail and fax messages using theirfamiliar Microsoft Outlook inbox.

"Our customers contact us in a variety of ways, and voicemessaging is especially important," said Beth Seymour, seniorproject manager of Voice Network Services, AmeriHealth Mercy HealthPlan. "Unified access makes it easier for us to managecommunications and respond quickly to customers."

Twenty-five years after its invention voice mail is definitelyhere to stay, and through integration with other applications andglobal IP networking, it can play an even bigger role in businesscommunications and customer service in today's fast-paced,customer-oriented, highly mobile world.

About Avaya
Avaya Inc. designs, builds and manages communications networks formore than one million businesses worldwide, including over 90percent of the FORTUNE 500®. Focused on businesses largeto small, Avaya is a world leader in secure and reliable InternetProtocol telephony systems and communications software applicationsand services.

Driving the convergence of voice and data communications withbusiness applications — and distinguished bycomprehensive worldwide services — Avaya helps customersleverage existing and new networks to achieve superior businessresults. For more information visit the Avaya Web site: http://www.avaya.com

© 2004 Avaya Inc. All rights reserved. All trademarks identifiedby the ® or TM are registered trademarks or trademarks,respectively, or Avaya Inc. All other trademarks are the propertyof their respective owners.

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