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Sunday, April 22, 2012

AT&T Pushing Mobile Users To Their Public, Unified Messaging “Cloud”


 Business organizations and their technology providers are figuring out how best to migrate mobility and UC-enabled, cloud-based capabilities into legacy telephony and email environments. Meanwhile, service provider AT&T is now offering cloud-based, multi-modal unified text and voice messaging services to mobile consumers. This is being done through communication application developers, who can use AT&T's Encore platform, to exploit the ATT cloud for faster access to integrated communications. This service move will add new impetus for organizations to provide similar capabilities for device-independent messaging capabilities, as well as reinforce new BYOD policies to accommodate “dual persona” mobile clients.
AT&T Messages, a free mobile app for Android smartphones and tablets, is an initial example that centralizes all subscriber person-to-person text and voice messages in AT&T’s “cloud,” allowing easier message management and “threading” across a variety of endpoint devices, including phones, tablets, and desktop PCs. Voice messages can be transcribed into text for either voice or text retrieval, and all messages can be responded to immediately in text or using new “voice texts.” “Voice texts” let the user record a voice message, which is then transcribed for delivery as a text message.
New message notifications are also provided across different endpoint devices, so that recipients are immediately aware of such messages, regardless of the device they happen to be using. However, AT&T has indicated that end users are currently limited to a maximum of 500 contacts in their address books, which is expected to be remedied in the near future.
While AT&T’s Messages can be used by subscribers for both business and personal contacts, the service is tied to the subscriber’s mobile device identity. That is, all messages sent through Messages will show that mobile device address. That won’t work for those business users who typically want their “office” contact used for responses to their mobile messages, e.g., doctors who don’t want to give out their mobile numbers (“Extension to Cellular”). However, the simple solution of “dual persona” mobile clients will enable Messages to be covered by the personal persona, while the business persona can provide other alternative rules.
Although AT&T’s Messages includes text, voice, pictures, and video messages, they did not (yet) mention social networking messages. Inasmuch as a recent international survey showed that 49% of consumer smartphone users use them on a daily basis for social networking, “social business” will come into play for business users. The bottom line for all mobile smartphone and tablet end users is that the “cloud” will facilitate UC-enabled flexibility for all forms of asynchronous messaging, as well as escalation to real-time contacts including IM, “click-to-call,” voice/video conferencing, and social networking.
Telephony and messaging integrators can learn more about UC-enabled mobile business by joining unified communications industry leaders at UC Summit 2012, the only channel and consultant-focused event for the Unified Communications and Collaboration industry. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Business Collaboration Really Means UC Enablement

Copyright © 2012 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
April 20, 2012
Even though the term “collaboration” describes how people work together to solve business issues, the bottom line is that “collaboration” needs all forms of communication and information exchange between people. For that reason, the flexibility of “unified communications” (UC) is an implied capability for person-to-person business contacts. Business collaboration, through UC enablement, can now be done more easily and quickly from anywhere and any time that doesn’t require sitting in the same room together or using identical communication endpoint devices. However, such collaborative activity will still be dependent on every individual end user’s involvement and choice of communication interaction.
“Collaboration” means working together and communicating with others, but such communications are not always in real time, e.g., face-to face meetings, conferencing, and chat. Asynchronous messaging is increasingly becoming more practical for quickly exchanging information and views, without necessarily having a real-time interaction. Whenever a discussion in real-time is required, voice and/or video conferencing can now be quickly initiated or scheduled, depending on the availability of the participants. This is where UC enabled applications allows dynamic shifting between modalities of communications to satisfy the collaborative needs of the active participants.
 “Collaboration,” like the traditional face-to-face meeting, doesn’t start automatically; someone has to do something to get the interactions with other people going. That “something” is a communication action, like a message or a phone call to the people who are to “collaborate.” In addition to being a simple notification, information pertinent to the discussion may need to be referenced to provide the context for review and discussion. So, people who “collaborate” will be using a variety of ways to communicate and exchange information in real time or asynchronously, and that’s where the flexibility of UC enablement comes into play.       

Do People Who Collaborate Need Identical Devices?

Clearly, business communications are not confined to people within a single organization, but will involve people outside an organization as well. In addition, with the rapid increase in mobile communications and BYOD policies, individual end users will be collaborating (communicating) under different circumstances and with different endpoint devices. Some will be sitting in front of desktops (PCs, laptops, tablets), while others may be involved while using mobile smartphones.
 For messaging exchanges, mobile end users will have few problems in communicating when on the go. If the required information exchange involves a lot of data or video, a larger screen from a tablet may be better than a smartphone. However, when a real time conference is required, mobile participants can handle a voice conference easily, but not a videoconference well. So, the recent advent of UC enabled video conferencing will provide the flexibility for individual end users to choose various flavors of video and voice participation that fit their needs and preferences.

The Implementation Bottom Line for IT management, Solution Integrators, and Channels

Individual end users will not be thinking along the lines of “collaboration,” but rather about how they want to access and interact with people and automated (self-service) business applications. This will be particularly important as end users all become more mobile and dependent upon smartphone and tablet devices for everything they do with others. That is the level that UC enablement provides for the flexibility of end user choice to fit their personal needs and preferences.
Obviously, providing end users with such communication flexibility will allow them to more easily and efficiently collaborate with others. So, for business management, collaboration benefits will be foremost, but for individual end users, personalized UC benefits will be most visible and realistically exploited.
The bottom line for implementation of UC enabled applications is for IT management, with the support of VARs and Channels, to integrate them for private or public cloud-based use in order to support both desktop and mobile device usage. This is how “collaboration” technologies will actually get done in the new world of UC enablement.
Learn more by joining unified communications industry leaders at UC Summit 2012, the only channel and consultant-focused event for the Unified Communications and Collaboration industry.

For more insights on UC-enabled Collaboration go to CIO Collaboration Network




Sunday, April 01, 2012

Avoiding "Angry" Business Messaging In A UC World

Copyright (C) Unified-View, All Rights Reserved.

March 31,2012

By Art Rosenberg

It is not just nice to communicate with people in any business activity, but it is even more important to communicate effectively and avoid damaging relationships because of careless communications. I was intrigued by a recent announcement of a book by Dona Young, a teacher and writing coach, entitled “Angry E-Mail; How To Put A Lid On It” because it was focused on business communications. I offered to review it because I wanted to see how the recommendations fit into a UC enabled environment.

Young’s practical approach to business email begins with making sure to immediately detail the purpose of the message at the start. Recipients of business email don’t have time for socializing small talk. After composing the message, Young recommends spending a few minutes editing it, to make the purpose very clear to the recipient(s) at a glance. Then cut out all the unnecessary information because “We’re living in a world that’s moving at warp speed. One of the things that irritates people is getting an email and then having to work really hard to figure out how to respond.”

Young’s book focuses heavily on message content, tone, and style that will not offend the recipient and will elicit a positive response. However she does stress the importance of “micromessages,” i.e., things that are unsaid in the message and any excessive delays in the response. All of these factors can impact the business relationship between the sender and the recipient of the message.

Although the book covers best practices for using email to communicate person-to-person, there is no mention of other forms of messaging technologies, including business social networking, or automated CEBP contacts. However, it does suggest that a phone call for a voice conversation may be more appropriate than an email message when delivering sensitive information. The role of email in a unified communications enabled environment is something that was not addressed, e.g., “click-to-call/chat” in response to an email message. In fact, Young recommends delaying sending an email response in order to insure that the response is well thought out.

So, perhaps Dona Young’s next book should be “Angry Unified Communications!”

Read more here: