Look around - how many message stores do you have? And how many did you have five, ten, or fifteen years ago? For me, the current inventory reads:
Corporate voicemail (unified with e-mail)
Mobile phone voicemail
Home voicemail (seldom used)
There is only one point of unification, as our corporate voicemail system forwards voicemail messages to my e-mail inbox (not just a notification, but an actual .wav sound file as attachment). Other than that, if someone wants to tell me something, it could be anywhere.
Many people have more repositories than me. Some knowledge workers have a personal e-mail account, others have a personal mobile phone as well as a corporate mobile - both with separate voicemails.
Now think about how many software clients one needs to access different types of messages. For me, the list reads:
IBM Instant Messaging (née Lotus Sametime)
Lotus Notes for e-mail
Voice mail (DTMF interface and Web)
As knowledge workers become more mobile, it becomes clear how the fragmented nature of this situation impacts how we work and how productive we can be. Many IT vendors talk about "unifying" the experience but few organizations have actually deployed systems that actually address this.
In the coming weeks, we'll take a look at some solutions to this common problem.
Jonathan B. Spira is the CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex. He is recognized as one of the technology industry's leading thinkers and pundits, having pioneered the field of Collaborative Business Knowledge, which is the intersection of content management, portals, knowledge management, and collaboration.
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