SINGAPORE (06/12/2000) - As unified messaging (UM) services move towards the business mainstream, it is little wonder that network operators and application service providers (ASPs) are rushing to add them to their offerings.
Although UM technology is at its early stages, and is still evolving, analysts from International Data Corp. have projected that revenue streams will hit US$1.9 billion in 2003. The most notable benefit of a UM system is that it integrates e-mail, fax, paging, and voice mail communication from a centralized platform -- be it a single telephone number or an e-mail address. This single-point communication makes it easier for the user to keep track of his or her messages.
For the network operator facing falling phone charges and increasing competition from nimbler startups, UM service provision helps them create the "stickiness" needed to retain customer loyalty. In fact, interest in this fledging technology, especially over the last six months, has never been greater, according Kevin Torf, chairman of Tornado Development Inc.
"The reason is that big telcos are starting to adopt unified messaging services here," said Torf. The U.S.-based company, which develops and markets its unified messaging engine to ISPs, portals, ASPs, telcos and wireless providers, is determined to capture a chunk of the UM marketshare in the Asia-Pacific. It was in town last week to debut its UM system and hosting capability.
According to Torf, the company is focusing on Asia. He contends that Asia could possibly be a bigger market for the company than Europe and the U.S. Tornado recently signed an agreement with MailNexus, a Singapore-based ASP startup, to license its UM technology to companies in the business-to-business sector, ranging from the small, mid-size enterprises to network carriers in Singapore and the region. "As our partner, MailNexus will not only act as an agent for us, but it will host our technology," said Torf. Under the agreement, both companies will jointly establish a hosting facility, which will serve as a technical hub throughout South Asia.