While business organizations are still struggling to understand how best to migrate mobility and UC-enabled, cloud-based capabilities into their legacy telephony and email environments, AT&T is offering cloud-based, multi-modal unified text and voice messaging services to their mobile consumer subscribers. This is being done via their Encore platform, which is open to communication application developers to exploit the ATT cloud for faster access to integrated communications. This move will add greater impetus for organizations to provide similar capabilities for device-independent messaging capabilities, as well as reinforce new BYOD policies for “dual persona” mobile clients.
AT&T Messages, a free mobile app for Android smartphones and tablets, is an initial example that centralizes all subscriber person-to-person text and voice messages in AT&T’s “cloud,” allowing easier message management and “threading” across a variety of endpoint devices, including phones, tablets, and desktop PCs. Voice messages can be transcribed into text for either voice or text retrieval, and all messages can be responded to immediately in text or using new “voice texts.” “Voice texts” let the user record a voice message, which is then transcribed for delivery as a text message.
New message notifications are also provided across different endpoint devices, so that recipients are immediately aware of such messages, regardless of the device they happen to be using. However, AT&T has indicated that end users are currently limited to a maximum of 500 contacts in their address books, which is expected to be remedied in the near future.
While AT&T’s Messages can be used by subscribers for both business and personal contacts, the service is tied to the subscriber’s mobile device identity. That is, all messages sent through Messages will show that mobile device address. That won’t work for those business users who typically want their “office” contact used for responses to their mobile messages, e.g., doctors who don’t want to give out their mobile numbers (“Extension to Cellular”). However, the simple solution of “dual persona” mobile clients will enable Messages to be covered by the personal persona, while the business persona can provide other alternative rules.
Although AT&T’s Messages includes text, voice, pictures, and video messages, they did not (yet) mention social networking messages. Inasmuch as a recent international survey showed that 49% of consumer smartphone users use them on a daily basis for social networking, “social business” will come into play for business users. The bottom line for all mobile smartphone and tablet end users is that the “cloud” will facilitate UC-enabled flexibility for all forms of asynchronous messaging, as well as escalation to real-time contacts including IM, “click-to-call,” voice/video conferencing, and social networking.
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