Uh oh, there's that word again. Convergence. The solution to all our problems.
Siemens has released OpenScape, which integrates phone, voice mail, e-mail, text messaging, calendaring, instant messaging, and conferencing services. Its all centered on IM to synchronize use of different modes of communication, with a SIP server (Session Initiation Protocol) for telephony integration. OpenScape 1.0, however, requires Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Server 2003 and Greenwich collaboration server. Its the latest in a long line of communication and collaboration solutions to leverage Outlook as a platform. And its estimated to cost as much as $400 per seat.
This may just be unified messaging redux, but Mike from Techdirt is right that it has potential as a productivity tool if its simple enough for people to use. People use many modes of communication. Optimize only a one or two and you may make communication in its entirety even more sub-optimal.
Wow, 400 per seat is a bit outrageous for something you could probably put together out of a set of linux hacks. It was just the other day when i was helping a colleague using freebsd set up an audio system on a standard serial port to answer phone and the like. in short, with a little innovation and some language recognition, you shoudl be able to 'hack' a product like this together from free software.