Avaya to give away speech tool with latest messaging application

In a sign of the increasing competitiveness of unified communications suites, Avaya will include its voice command tool for free when it releases the latest version of its IP-based voice and messaging software.

Until now the company charged extra for its one-X Speech interface to buyers of the platform. But when Modular Messaging 4.0 is released next week it will include the voice application, which gives users hands-free ability to answer and dial calls as well as command the system to read e-mail, calendars and task lists in Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Domino.

“Our CEO has made the mandate for us to promote unified communications to the masses and not have cost as a barrier to entry,” Amir Hameed, director of applications sales for Avaya Canada, said Tuesday in explaining the inclusion of one-X Speech in the upgraded messaging software.

The new version of Modular Messaging also adds support for Microsoft Express 2007 and Domino 7.0 as server stores, or the Avaya Message Storage server.

Hameed is just as pleased that version 4.0 also gives the ability for users to record greeting messages in a number of languages including French, which is important for Avaya customers in Quebec.

“The Canadians were making all the noise” at Avaya to have that capability added, he said.

However, voice commands still have to be given in English, although the system will read stored messages and text in French. Modular Messaging runs on Windows Server.

A combined voice, e-mail and fax messaging system, Modular Messaging needs a server with at least a 3.4 GHz Intel Pentium IV CPU and 2Gb of memory. It integrates with Avaya’s Communications Manager switch. Users have PC desktop access to messages through Outlook or Lotus Notes client interfaces. It includes a Find Me/Follow Me feature, which directs calls to almost any device.

The one-X Speech module needs a separate server with the same minimum hardware. When it was sold separately with Modular Messaging 3.0, it could cost organizations an average of $300 or more per user. However, Hameed said that while it’s included in version 4.0, that software’s pricing hasn’t been boosted significantly to recover the fee.

Avaya says Modular Messaging 4.0 pricing varies on the number of seats, but on average ranges between $55 and $75 per seat.

Hameed said mobile users who want to access their messaging systems from handsets while behind the wheel or when not in the office will appreciate the voice capability.

“When you’re driving it’s a hazard to sit there thumbing through your e-mail messages,” he said. Using the speech interface a user can dictate a reply as a .WAV file that a recipient can hear, he said.

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