It's a pain for companies to deal with various forms of communication, such as instant messaging (IM), video conferencing, VoIP, email, and so on. So why not develop a unified approach? Over the past couple of years, this has been a priority at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and on Thursday the company furthered its efforts by purchasing Parlano. The price tag on the deal was not disclosed.

Founded about seven years ago, Parlano has built a secure technology -- called MindAlign -- to allow global organizations to communicate using IM, voice, and document sharing. There is integration with a variety of services, such as IM clients from Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX).

Interestingly, Parlano has found a niche with Wall Street traders. In fact, it's often easier to take orders and communicate with others using IM. 

Parlano technology also provides an audit of the communications and sophisticated search capabilities, which are key for regulated industries. The company has five of seven top global banks as customers, such as UBS (NYSE:UBS) and Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB).

Integration with Microsoft's technology platform should be fairly seamless.  After all, Parlano has built MindAlign on top of Microsoft's Communications server 2005 and 2007. The company is even a Microsoft Gold Certified partner. 

Other firms are trying to get a piece of the "unified communications" (UC) space, including Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Avaya (NYSE:AV). Just this week, IBM snapped up WebDialogs, which provides voice and voice conferencing.

Keep in mind that the UC market is fairly small -- but it's picking up. Radicati Group forecasts the corporate UC market to go from $469 million in 2005 to $939 million in 2009. A big advantage for Microsoft is its massive Exchange footprint, which should help with customer uptake. But the company has not always been fleet-footed in leveraging its assets, and that's why buying key technologies is likely to be important for the strategy.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is ranked 2,509 out of more than 60,000 investors in Motley Fool CAPS. The Fool's disclosure policy speaks seven languages.