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Back in 1998 the Radicati Group studied the TCO of a UM system and found that it added 25 to 40 minutes of productivity per worker, per day. With the proliferation of messages in enterprises today, we can safely assume that number will now exceed 40 minutes--time that can be better spent generating sales and providing customer support. We tested three UM products in 1998 (see "Funneling the Messaging Flood in Your Network"); this was just the beginning of our UM coverage. We've been preaching the benefits ever since (for more recent articles see the Web Links on page 42).

When we asked our readers about UM's perks, you identified message management as a primary benefit, ranking just ahead of the ability to access and manage e-mail, faxes and voicemail from a multiplicity of devices (see chart on page 44).

Although UM products are being put under the rubric of "unified communications" by the likes of Gartner and IDC, don't be fooled. It's UM that brings real-time call delivery and presence management to end users using an autoattendant front end to existing messaging systems. And it's UM that uses TTS (text-to-speech) engines that read e-mail over the phone to users. UM has a range of services that include one number (universal number) for both telephone and fax and find-me or follow-me features that route incoming messages to your present location and to the available device in hand, be it a cell phone or a PDA. With UM, users can send voice and fax messages as attachments to e-mail and access their corporate directories, address books and other resources using the telephone. This is especially appealing to the mobile professional.

Wait, There's More

Mobile professionals may be the most highly skilled--and highly paid--employees you support. These executives, salesmen and technical consultants can be vital resources in generating revenue. Yet, mobile professionals are hamstrung by that mobility. While traveling, road warriors must maintain contact with the home office and customers, and they need to regularly review e-mail, faxes, voicemail and pages for sales support and marching orders. UM can keep these employees connected and supplied with business information.

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