Unified Messaging (UM) vs. Unified Communications (UC)

Unified Messaging has been around for about 20 years. A general definition would be something like “Unified Messaging allows you to access all kinds of messages i.e., voice, email, fax, etc. across all types of devices i.e., desk telephone, computer, cellphone, etc.”

For our purposes UM usually means you can manage (receive, listen, and reply) to your voice mails on your computer, tablet, or smartphone via some kind of email delivery or integration. The specific capabilities vary depending on the implementation or platform but the primary goal is convenient and timely message delivery regardless of where you are.

Unified Communications expands dramatically on this concept!

Think of it as the intersection of Caller ID and your current availability, or “presence”. We all know what Caller ID is and how useful it can be for deciding how and when to answer a call. But what happens when we are not where the call and it’s corresponding Caller ID information are? Voice mail is what usually happens. Then a game of phone tag that usually results in a lack of contact in about 70% of all attempts.

UC gives us the ability to manage all of our calls on all our devices, wherever we are.  Using “profiles” we are able to make simple rules that route calls intelligently based on the caller and our current “presence” i.e., where we are and what we are doing. Important callers can be delivered to us regardless, others may be provided a choice based on how urgent it is, while unrecognized callers will be given voice mail so that we can reply if and when we choose.

Many systems allow you to manually set your presence like the in/out board at the front desk but getting people to use those can be like herding cats.  Presence should be automatic like an executive secretary who knows where you are at or what you are doing. This is what I call “Rich Presence”.

This results in a higher call completion rate and a quicker response when the call is not completed. This saves time for everyone  involved, saving money and improving productivity.

NEC’s Unified Communications for Business (UCB) with Rich Presence knows if you have a meeting on your Outlook calendar, it even knows if you are at your desk or not by watching your telephone, mouse, and keyboard for activity!


Want to learn more about Unified Messaging and Unified Communications and see how you can use them for your business?