Unified Voicemail and E-Mail
Part of the Unified Communications For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Voicemail is an essential unified communications feature to have for a phone system. The capability to leave a voicemail is certainly better than having the phone ring indefinitely with no way to reach the user. However, voicemail has its drawbacks.
Generally, users only receive their voicemail when they use the phone that the voicemail was left on. Most voicemail systems also provide some method of remotely retrieving messages by calling in to the voicemail system, but those features are rarely used unless someone is going to be away from the office for an extended period of time.
With unified messaging, voicemails are delivered to the same inbox as e-mail and other communications and can be retrieved using an e-mail client. Users often have e-mail delivered on their mobile phones and many organizations have Web-based access to the enterprise e-mail system, so the capability to receive voicemail in e-mail means that you have access to your voicemail virtually anytime and anywhere.
Some unified communications systems attach voicemail messages as an MP3, WAV, or other audio file format to an e-mail. Other unified communications platforms, such as Microsoft Unified Communications, embed the voicemail in the e-mail itself. In fact, when using Microsoft Exchange with Unified Messaging and Microsoft Outlook, voicemail messages have an embedded audio player so they can be played directly from within the e-mail without the need for any additional audio utilities.
With Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange voicemail, you can also click Play on Phone to have the voicemail system call you on your phone if you want to listen to the voicemail messages with more privacy than you may have by blaring them over your computer speaker. If you're in a coffee shop or other public area, this can be a handy feature.