• United States
by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Company reaps savings from unified messaging

Nov 19, 20032 mins

* Company implements unified messaging - and gets surprise savings

Last time, we defined unified messaging and unified communications as two distinct technologies. Today, we’d like to disagree with the notion some analysts hold that unified messaging is dead and voice over IP-based unified communications is the only technology to consider.

As our readers will recall, unified messaging supports desktop fax and visual voicemail. The desktop fax feature allows users to send, receive, print and file a fax just as easily as they can send, receive, print and file e-mail. Visual voicemail works much the same way; voicemail “files” can be viewed, retrieved and filed just like e-mail.

To support our claim that unified messaging is alive and well, we’ll cite a conversation we had recently with a company that has installed a TDM-based unified messaging system. The company’s business case supporting the installation was made entirely on the savings realized by bringing fax to the users’ desktops.

The savings came from three factors: user time saved, reduced telephone lines and the elimination of multiple fax machines. User time to send or receive a fax is about six to eight minutes per transmission; outgoing broadcast faxes multiplies this time consumed. While a few minutes per day doesn’t sound like much, it can add up to saving one or two workweeks per employee per year, depending on how many faxes are sent or received per user.

Telephone line costs were reduced because the incoming fax goes to a fax server, which redirects the fax to the intended user’s inbox. Outgoing line costs were also reduced because fax images could be sent to other e-mail addresses. And multiple fax machines were eliminated.

The bonus savings were realized when users got a visual voicemail system for “free” because the business-case ROI analysis didn’t even consider user voicemail management time saved. While the company hasn’t conducted a time-saved analysis for visual voicemail, users are delighted with the desktop voicemail component.

Bottom line: Sometimes we fall in love with cool technology, but saving a few minutes per day can add up to some big rewards. Remember, convergence isn’t just about VoIP.

Next week, we’ll take a look at some issues with convergence-related management and security we believe still need to be solved.