Real-Time Communications Give Unified Communications an Edge Over Unified Messaging, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, MA – JULY 10, 2000 – Emerging unified communications services are feature-rich and offer users a more complete solution than unified messaging. This is the message of a new report from IDC titled Unified Communications: A Cut Above Unified Messaging. According to IDC, unified communications are a comprehensive suite of services that combine nonreal-time activities, such as message exchange, with real-time communications, such as call delivery and connectivity, live call management, and notification options.


"Although unified messaging is an integral component of unified communications, unified communications go way beyond unified messaging," said Dana Thorat, senior research analyst for IDC's Residential Broadband and Telecommunications program. "The icing on the cake is the capacity for real-time communications."

The typical features of unified communications include one number, find me/follow me services, call screening, message notification, conferencing, and outbound calling. "The features of unified communications allow end users to be highly accessible and more responsive to callers," Thorat said.

IDC believes unified communications will catch on in a big way and predicts the number of subscribers will skyrocket from fewer than 2 million in 1999 to more than 28 million in 2004. This market will be fueled by demand from high-end mobile consumers and small office/home office workers, as well as the small and medium/large business segments. Consumer subscribers will purchase the service for both work or nonwork-related purposes, such as keeping in touch with family members or some other personal activities. In the corporate environment, business users, who will purchase the service individually or through their employers, will use these services to improve communications with customers and colleagues.

Unified communications services are particularly appealing for mobile users, small office/home office users, and high-end road warrior customers. "These solutions are not only attractive to end users as a way to manage multiple personal communications tools but also to increase the probability of call connectivity and control over real-time communications," Thorat said.

Users access their unified communications services through a touch-tone telephone interface, and in many cases, a voice user interface that is powered by speech recognition technology. The voice interface also allows users easy access to various Web content, such as news, stock quotes, weather, sports scores, and more, over any telephone. Additionally, subscribers have the flexibility to access and configure their services through personalized Web portals that are also included with these services.

IDC's report Unified Communications: A Cut Above Unified Messaging (IDC #B22483) assesses the up-and-coming unified communications services market. It analyzes the market's development and looks at market drivers, inhibitors, and target markets. A forecast of the number of subscribers and retail service revenue in the U.S. unified communications market is presented. The report profiles the following vendors: Bell Atlantic, BellSouth Mobility, Call Sciences, Centigram Communications, Cisco Systems, General Magic, iBasis, I-Link, Iperia, LHS Priority Call Management, Linx Communications, Orchestrate, SBC Communications, Voice Mobility International, Webley Systems, and Wildfire Communications. To purchase the report, please contact Bruce Atlas at 1-800-343-4952, extension 4053 or at

About IDC

IDC delivers dependable, high-impact insights and advice on the future of ebusiness, the Internet, and technology to help organizations make sound business decisions. IDC forecasts worldwide markets and trends and analyzes business strategies, technologies, and vendors, using a combination of rigorous primary research and in-depth competitive analysis. IDC provides global research with local content through more than 500 analysts in 43 countries worldwide. IDC's customers comprise the world's leading IT suppliers, IT organizations, ebusiness companies, and the financial community. Additional information can be found at

IDC is a division of IDG, the world's leading IT media, research and exposition company.

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