Perhaps the toughest part of my job is finding time
to write about all the new companies worth writing about. It is
especially difficult when the company in question has really great
technology that changes paradigms. Case in point is a company called Orative (news
I met with a few months ago. Since then, I have found myself speaking
about their technology at various speeches I have given. Luckily I found
some time to give you some insight on what they are all about.
Orative fixes something that is broken. Telephony is
broken. Well don’t take that literally… Of course we are all able to
make calls, but I believe that the way we use it is incorrect. This
morning on the way to the airport I had three urgent calls to make. I had
scheduled them all to take place in a two-hour block the prior evening. I
called the first person who was on the phone. He said he was finishing up
a conference call and would call me in 10 minutes. I called the other two
people on my list and left messages.
All three calls came in at once and it took 12 phone
calls to connect with all three of these people. Worse yet, the phone kept
ringing during important parts of the conversation and it became difficult
to hear the other party with constant call-waiting tones in my ear. Cell
phones have made us infinitely more efficient but 12 phone calls to speak
with three people leaves room for improvement.
They make software that turns cell phones into extensions of the PBX.
Using any wireless carrier you install software on your cellular phones.
The software can be BREW, Java or Symbian based.
Instead of incessant phone calls, others politely
message you to see if you are available. When you receive said message,
you are also provided with a subject. Presence is built in, meaning you
will know when the other party is available, at lunch, etc.
Caller ID does some of this but not all. How many
times has a family member interrupted an important meeting? You take the
call because it could be urgent. Once on the line you end up answering to
“chicken or fish for dinner?”
Using Orative’s technology, you could tell your
spouse (by pressing a few buttons) that you will be available in an hour
and schedule a call at that time. Instead of answering to chicken or fish,
you are able to communicate at a time that works for you. You can postpone
calls as needed to fit into your ever-changing workday and lifestyle. It
is like a snooze button for phone calls. Since there is built-in presence,
you can put your phone in DND mode if you like. You can even schedule
certain times of the day where the phone will automatically go into and
out of this mode. You have full Active Directory support, eliminating the
need for tedious keying and rekeying of phone number data. Using this
approach, phones can have access to a directory of unlimited size. My cell
phone can’t take much more than a few hundred contacts and I have closer
to 500+ that I would like access to.
There is more… Soon there will be support for
speech recognition. GPS integration is coming as well. Imagine that you
can have presence based on location. You’ll be able to manage field
sales and service forces much more effectively.
Additionally, you can decide to push a message out to
all phones in the organization…something you can’t easily do today.
What makes this so attractive is the fact that we all have our cell phones
with us at all times, unlike PDAs and Blackberries. Other notable features
are full password support and built-in security. Furthermore, call record
logging is done automatically, making this system useful for law firms and
If there is one problem with this technology it is
that there isn’t a name for it. It is tough to budget for something that
doesn’t fit neatly into a bucket for the CFO to sign off on. In my
meeting with the company, we played around with some names for this
technology and came up with Power Messaging for Mobile Phones. I liked it.
It has been a few months. I am sure the technology has evolved and they
have picked a name for the category. I’ll keep you posted on the name as
well as how well the technology works as I am looking forward to demoing
One last note. 3G is coming to a cell phone near you.
The technology works and will be rolled out in the next few years. It will
have SIP (news -
- define - tutorial) integration
and VoIP (news
- define - tutorial) support. Much of what
Orative is doing is presence based and as such it will be interesting to
see if their technology is eclipsed or augmented by the onslaught of 3G
networks and phones.
Please talk back to
me in our forums.
Rich Tehrani is TMC's president. He welcomes your comments.
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