Saturday, September 5, 2009

Integrating Google Voice voicemail transcripts in OC

I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to figure out what makes Google Voice so great. There's very little new here except to the extent that it takes a small subset of services available to some and makes them available to all. Microsoft OCS, Cisco UC, even Vonage offer much more but not everybody has their service. So the question is- for users that already have advanced telephony features available to them, is there anything in GV that warrants signing up? If Google opened up Voice to the appengine platform, then the sky could be the limit. In the meantime?

The answer is voicemail transcripts. Google does a pretty good job here. Not perfect, but better than anything I've seen to date.

If you are an Office Communicator user, you can replace your Exchange voicemail with Google Voice in a couple of easy steps-
  1- sign up for your GV account
  2- At Google Voice, go to Settings->Voicemail & SMS and follow the steps to add another email address.  Make this your work address. 
  3- Once confirmed, go back to Settings->Voicemail & SMS->Voicemail Notifications->Email message to and select your work email address.  Verify that the checkbox is selected.
  4- In Office Communicator 2007 R2, go to Tools->Options->Phones.  Set your GV number under 'Other Phones'
  5- Uncheck 'Publish this number' if you don't want people calling it.  In this type of usage scenario, there's really no reason to have it called.
  6- Close options and go to Call Forwarding settings 'Send unanswered calls to the following'.  It's most likely currently set to Voicemail.  Select your GV number under exit.

That's it.  Your VM now routes through Google Voice instead of Exchange and nobody will every notice.  It's bears noting that there are a couple of drawbacks to this.  First, depending on your corporate phone policy, you may lose the caller ID in the message.  My company does this and it's very annoying.  It's the same reason why simultaneously ringing my mobile is not as good as it should be.  The last problem is VM alerts.  While I never notice it, OC apparantly gives you a visual cue that a voicemail is waiting.  It's a bigger problem for CX700 phone users.  The CX700 has had visual voicemail features since it launched a couple years ago.  Obviously if your VM is now sitting on a google server, that feature in the CX700 is not going to work.  Did I mention you may be running afoul of your corporate security policy?  I'll leave it to you to decide how much you care about that one.

Suffice to say it's not without sacrafices.  But if voicemail transcripts are as big a feature to you as it is to me, you can make Google Voice your own personal OC voicemail solution and nobody will know the difference.


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