Communication Portals
Multi-modal / Trans-modal Access and Management, including Presence
by Ed LaBanca, CollabGen
Published November 2005, Posted November 2005




With the convergence of Business Information Systems, the Internet / World-wide Web, and wired / wireless IP Telephony communications (VoIP) with text messaging, person-to-person telecommunications is being transformed in totally new ways in the context of a Unified Telecommunication Model (UTM©). As business people become more accessible with mobile devices, they are also becoming less available for real-time contacts, making multi-modal messaging alternatives more practical for both person-to-person contacts and information exchange. Making efficient contact with people, as opposed to accessing business applications (online information retrieval / transactions) is a significantly greater challenge for enterprise technologies. This paper addresses UTM© for Communication Portals.


Communication Portals, which include telephone and online access to web-based messaging and real-time voice / video telecommunication applications, have just recently entered the market in the past couple of years. These applications are focused on making contact with people, as opposed to simple business information retrieval or self-service transactions, and provide facilities for both contact initiators and contact recipients to dynamically and efficiently manage accessibility by both people and automated business services. Automated self-service functions can also be incorporated within telephony (speech) and online web Communication Portals can be provided by both the enterprise organization and “public” service providers and communication carriers. They can be “federated” across enterprise and public networks to support the concepts of “virtual” Unified and Trans-modal Communications, which have been advanced for many years by one of this paper’s contributors, Art Rosenberg.


Communication Portals provide telephone and online web interfaces for personalized, presence-based management of contact access availability, modality, and permission-based communications with individuals inside or outside an organization. They act as virtual, online “intelligent address books” that integrate personal calendars, personalized access “rules”, and dynamically changing user status information. They support the convergence of a variety of communication device interfaces for integrating the use of IP Telephony voice and video conferencing with all forms of messaging. This requires interoperability between distributed services and enterprise systems in a “federated” operational environment across public and private networks. So, whereas Automated Attendant and Voice Mail were localized, enterprise solutions to answering / directing a voice call and relaying stored information, Communication Portals are designed to make all forms of messaging interoperate with conversational voice communications based on a user’s modality, which as alluded to earlier, can be referred to as Trans-modal Communications. Furthermore, current speech recognition technology allows enterprise-wide Automated Attendants to offer voice access to thousands of names without any need to remember extension numbers, and makes possible other powerful speech- controls and navigation features. This paper also provides an introduction to Unified Messaging, along with current speech-enabled messaging and Voice Portals by Mark Levinson.



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