Service providers that offer unified messaging can expect to see huge growth in the small business sector over the next three years, according to a new report from IDC.
The market research company said that while the first users to embrace the new technology were so-called corporate road warriors, US small businesses were about to catch on to the idea and would use 2.5 million unified messaging mailboxes by the year 2002.
Unified messaging combines Email, voicemail and fax into one in-box that customers can access from a PC or telephone.
But Jeannette Noyes, analyst at IDC, explained that, while large companies often set up their own unified messaging systems, small businesses were more likely to turn to service providers such as ISPs and some of the newer telephone companies.
An early front runner is JFAX, which has just landed a major deal with America Online, but Oracle is also positioning itself to play in this sector.
The most obvious benefits to this type of system are that users can access all messages, from whatever source, from anywhere.
A unified in-box also provides users with a single point of reference for all their messages, and presents partners and customers with a professional-looking interface to the company.
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