Unified Messaging, or the combination of various electronic and communications media onto a single platform or interface, seems destined to play an even greater role in local telecommunications.

Innovation within mobile and wireless technology space has paved the way for unified messaging and convergence with the mobile phone.

The fact is that cellular phones now feature a number of integrated applications which offer the user a higher level of functionality. Consumers no longer consider investing in a mobile phone for the sake of having a phone – it is used to play music, to take photographs and to store and manipulate information.

If recent digital reports are anything to go by, it seems that the proliferation of unified messaging in the mobility market means the days of interaction by phone using numbers are actually numbered.

These online posts say the phone call will still be around for some time to come, but the use of numbers as a gateway to initiate and control conversation may soon become a thing of the past.

The fact is that technology is advancing so quickly that it stands to reason that progress will be made to enable consumers to acquire virtual based connectivity that would require no definitive coding or personal identification numbers.

Popular social networking sites such as Skype and Voice on Gmail are seen as strong indicators of this emerging development.

In reality, if developers are able to bring together multi-media (including SMS, email, Fax, voicemail) and do so with the phone as the main interface, then our traditional way of telephonic interaction has to change.

It also serves up a number of other interesting topics, including that of augmented reality – a pathway to renewed virtual-based interaction and video conferencing.

Imagine being able to have a virtual meeting using technology which places the shape/form of an individual (an exact representation or depiction of an individual) at a meeting when they are not actually physically there.

Their shape is there, they are able to communicate in realtime and, practically speaking, they are in full attendance. Only they are not there physically.

It conjures up images of Star Trek and being beamed from one inter-planetary situation to another! But, it is certainly not as far-fetched as one might think.

Since global markets continue to expand on the development and application of virtual-based service delivery and technology, why not extend this application through to phone infrastructure.

Sure, we communicate via the Internet everyday. We use Skype, MMS, SMS, Twitter and other automated, immediate channels. But what would the world be like if we could use the phone and immediately digitise and project life-size images to engage with people?

Putting this all into perspective, the future for user’s holding onto numbers and using this method to make contact with other users and converse is uncertain and precarious at best.

Unified messaging has come full circle and the role of the phone as a centralised device to interface with multimedia is radically transforming the technology landscape.

By Robert Sussman, joint CEO, Integr8 Group