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 socalled 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 e-mail, voicemail and fax into one in-box that customers can access from a PC or telephone.
But Jeannette Noyes, analyst with IDC, explained that, while large corporations 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 here is JFAX, which has just landed a major deal with America Online, but Oracle is also positioning itself to play in this sector.
?Oracle has been offering unified messaging to the wireless customers of Telia in Sweden, so it has a running start?, said Noyes.
She added that small businesses were more likely to sign up with service providers because they did not want ?to invest in a lot of hardware and software.?
The most obvious benefits to this type of system were that employees could access all their messages, from whatever source, from anywhere, she continued.
A unified inbox also provided users with a single point of reference for all their messages, and presented partners and customers with a professional-looking interface to the company.
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