VoIP Loop blogger, Blair Pleasant, asks Is Unified Messaging Still Relevant?
There is a premium for UM [unified messaging] over plain voice mail, plus the integration costs can be not insignificant. And then there’s the integration issues – UM isn’t generally plug and play. And lastly, the ever-present ROI [return on investment] issue – ROI for UM has been very difficult to prove.
Additionally, in its purest form, UM (a single mail queue for email , voice mail and fax messages) has never lived up to its heyday hype. Follow-me uses store-and-forward routing. Early UM systems didn't always clean up after themselves (i.e., empty the store queue of forwarded messages.) For example, a voice mail message is forwarded to your email inbox as a wave file. You listen to it and delete it. Later you dial into your voice mail and find the same voice message. UM's legacy prevented it from mainstreaming into and across businesses.
What's the difference between unified messaging and unified communications? From a purist perspective, UC means near real-time communications (instead of store-and-forward), which integrate with line-of-business processes and workflow. However, with the mushrooming of UC hype, the difference between UM and UC will be semantics. UC sounds sexier than UM, yet UM dressed in the UC emperor's clothes is still UM.