The real-time redirection of a voice, text or email message to the device closest to the intended recipient at any given time. For example, voice calls to desk phones can be routed to the user's mobile phone. Email intended for a desktop mailbox can be turned into speech and sent to a smartphone, or a voicemail message left in the phone system can be sent as an attachment in an email message.Although the term is used synonymously with "unified messaging," unified communications implies real-time delivery, whereas "unified messaging" can queue up messages from several sources for retrieval later. See UCaaS, unified messaging and text-to-speech.
The ability to communicate in real time in the preferred mode (i.e., landline, cellular telephone, e-mail, or fax), unified communications incorporates presence technology, thereby allowing the user to indicate availability (e.g., available, unavailable, or out to lunch) and communications mode preference (e.g., business phone, cellular phone, text message, or instant message) to prospective callers. See also unified messaging.