Hate voice mail? Don’t use it!

I missed this first time around, but thanks to the power of NewsGator I got a second chance. Ed takes a critical look at Gartner’s new report about Exchange 2007. Ed said a couple of things that got me to thinking.

First up: Gartner said “We believe integrating voice mail with e-mail creates business efficiencies via common access and command services, and that it will become a cornerstone of the unified communication and collaboration movement.” Ed said:

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get this. I hate voicemail, and the fact that e-mail and instant messaging have replaced it over the last few years has been a most welcome development. Why would I want anyone to do anything that encourages more of it?

Well, first off, if Gartner is praising something that you don’t have, it’s natural to downplay its utility. However, Microsoft is making a choice play here. If you want to use voicemail as a peer to IM and e-mail, you can. If you want to get e-mail on your phone, you can. If you want to save money by consolidating your voicemail infrastructure, you can. If, like Ed, you hate voicemail and want to avoid it, now you can deal with it without ever picking up a telephone; from your desktop client or Web browser, you can see who called you and listen to the messages when necessary. The point is that MS is making these things possible as a fully-supported part of the product, not a separate (and poorly integrated) add-in. In the comments to Ed’s original post, Henry Ferlauto offers some excellent reasons why unified messaging is cool, including unifying the inbox and providing CYA/evidence tracking.)

Second, Ed says

It’s interesting how many customers seem to be listening to Microsoft’s pitch for Exchange 2007, with its emphasis on unified messaging, without accounting for this additional cost. Microsoft is smartly using the halo of the Exchange brand, but the reality is they are pitching a new product at a substantial cost as the main innovation of this supposed-upgrade.

But that’s the beauty of Microsoft’s approach! If you don’t want or need voicemail capacity, you don’t have to pay for it. If you don’t want or need the other items in the enterprise CAL, don’t buy them. If you only want hosted filtering, for example, just buy it from EHS and ignore the bundling option. Given that IBM has a large number of add-ons for mobility and wireless, IM integration, and other features that are included in Microsoft’s core collaboration products, I would think Ed would welcome this pay-as-you-go approach.

Ed does have a legitimate point about Gartner’s upgrade numbers. In my experience, most analyst firms, and even software vendors, routinely miss upgrade market share predictions. I suspect that Gartner is going to miss low, and that more than 40% of the Exchange installed base will be on 2007 in the three-year window they predict. We’ll have to wait and see, though.

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