Unified Messaging is Still a Hard Sell for ASPs

AMSTERDAM (03/16/2000) - Making the transition from ISP (Internet service provider) to ASP (application services provider) by implementing a unified messaging application isn't that much of a problem: the challenge is getting customers to understand why they need the service, according to one service provider.

Unified messaging is a synchronized service where every message, including faxes, text messages from mobile phones, and e-mail, goes into the same mailbox, according to Solveig Kjarvik, a project manager at Norway's incumbent telecommunications carrier, Telenor AS, speaking at the ISP2000 conference in Amsterdam yesterday.

But putting all these messages in one mailbox and only letting users into the information from a set location only goes halfway. "True unified messaging is independent of device," she said, speaking at a workshop on unified messaging.

Although large enterprises still have security concerns about unified messaging, it makes sense for small and medium-sized companies to outsource the system, she said. "And they are going to look for the ISPs they trust to do so," Kjarvik said, adding that ISPs, already having reliability and scalability, are best set up to offer unified messaging.

However, many executives in Europe still have the 'if it's that important, they'll call my mobile' mentality, so selling them on the idea is not that easy, she said.

"You really have to get people on by going piece by piece," Kjarvik said, comparing it to the telephone user who first purchases call waiting, then caller identification and eventually ends up with the whole suite.

Currently, most of Telenor's unified messaging subscribers are companies which most logically benefit from the service, such as offshore oil and gas companies with no fixed access.

Telenor, in Oslo, can be reached at +47 22 77 60 60, or on the web at http://www.telenor.com/.

ISP2000 continues through today in Amsterdam; more information can be found at http://www.isp2000europe.com/.

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