October 17, 2013, 12:07 PM — Has someone ever mistakenly sent an SMS text to your landline phone number or vice versa? If so, you’ll know that those texts simply disappear into the ether. Sometimes that’s no big deal. Other times, undelivered texts can have ramifications.
To plug that black hole, most business people give out their cell phone numbers to colleagues and customers, even if their phones are BYOD devices. The approach works but has some downsides both to the business (no record of business texts, which could be important) and to the user (missing a text when using another device; being contacted by customers when on personal time). This situation exists because corporate texting systems and carrier-based texting services are unconnected islands of communication.
But that’s finally changing. At least one unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) software maker – Avaya – says that as part of a $10/month cloud service, it will bring the texting networks together by supplying cellular operators with “text-able” enterprise direct inward dial (DID) numbers on behalf of its business customers. Getting those numbers into the carrier text database enables texts to cross enterprise and carrier network boundaries for concurrent delivery to multiple user end devices, says Mark Monday, Avaya’s VP and general manager of collaboration platforms. Texts get sent to the business number, not the user’s personal number, then are relayed by the corporate phone system to the user’s device. The individual's cell number is masked.
This solves the downsides described of users giving out their cell numbers to business contacts and missing texts when using devices other than their cell phones. And in this scenario, business texts become part of the business data archive, available for the intellectual property files, auditing, litigation and other purposes.
We’ve had a number of discussions here at the Enterprise Mobile Hub site and in weekly Twitter chats about the silos of corporate and public UC systems and scant interoperability between them. Bringing carriers and enterprises together is required for true UC&C. The Avaya Messaging Service (AMS) is one piece of that picture that needs completing, and I hope the integration trend catches on with this service and others like it.
In Avaya's case, the AMS app can be sold for use with any DID number; the enterprise doesn’t have to be an Avaya PBX/UC customer to take advantage of the merged texting capabilities, Monday explains. Business users running AMS can send and receive texts to and from any devices in the world; however, in order for their communications to remain encrypted end to end, device to device, the participating devices need to run the Avaya AMS application.