Voice Messaging 2.0 - its4u
its4u is a very exciting iteration of next-generation voice-mail that takes the rather arbitrary and well-proven (although unremarkable) Telco 1.0 experience with Voice Messaging well into the 21st Century.
- Imagine a Voice-mail solution that is social-networking aware!
- Imagine a Voice-mail solution which is aware of the world around the subscriber (Location, preferences, profile)!
- Imagine a Voice-mail solution that was able to interact with other media independently of direct user control!
- Imagine a Voice-mail solution that incorporates a self-tuning, self-learning and adaptive concierge, automated attendant or personalized assistant!
- Imagine a Voice-mail solution that can follow updates on Facebook, Twitter, Hi5, RenRen, LinkedIn and so on!
- Imagine a Voice-mail solution that automatically distributes a message to a single end-user to a large group; say a sports team, a group of sales people, a business and so on!
- Imagine a Voice-mail and Messaging solution that can receive messages in email, SMS, voice, web (chat), instant messaging or even MMS and then distribute the same content and message to any format for any intended end user from a single 'hub'! Yes, even Picture, or Video Messaging; Visual Voice-mail!
This is just the tip of the iceberg and is a solution created jointly by Alcatel-Lucent, Anana and Genesys Labs to explore the world of Carrier Applications, by embracing the core capabilities of the 7x9's reliability of one of the worlds leading Voice-mail Message Store solutions (AnyPath, or the Converged Messaging System - CMS), with a Messaging Applications Broker (MAB) and the worlds leading standards based Voice Portal (Genesys Voice Platform - GVP).
Anana worked with Alcatel-Lucent and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories to create a single solution, incorporating all facets and building blocks; including the applications and the associated framework to make this Voice Messaging 2.0 a reality in a simple, well designed and telco grade answer to the needs of 21st Century network consumers. Users today need a mash-up of concepts, all on their own well proven; but never before brought together in this new and powerful way.
In 2009 the saying went... “If a solution has web2.0 in it then it is cool!”
In 2010 the saying goes... “If a solution has social-networking in it then it is cool!”
Driven by the mass, public and media interest in social-networking and its incredible popularity the very social-networks themselves are trying to find commercial relevance in current consumer markets. Facebook relies on ad-sponsored revenues; which for its user base are relatively small. Twitter is considering ad-insertions with tweets? But, they are POPULAR; hugely popular!
Notwithstanding, the social-network’s own unsure commercial future has not limited or impacted their popularity. If Facebook were a country then it’d be the world’s 3rdlargest! According to many in the ‘know’, social-media is the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution. Over 50% of the world’s entire population is under 30 years of age. 96% of these “millennials” have joined a social-network! Some key statistics**;
- Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the United States
- Social media has overtaken pornography as the number one activity on the web
- 1 in 8 marriages in the US result through meeting via social-media
- It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million subscribers. It took TV 13 years. It took the Internet 4 years.
IT TOOK FACEBOOK less than 12 months!
- World’s largest countries, in order of size are;
China, India, Facebook, The United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan.......
- 80% of companies are now using social-media for recruitment (95% of these use LinkedIn!)
- Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the populations of;
Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Panama....COMBINED!!
- 50% of the mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook
- YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world
- In reading these short bullet points more than 100+ hours of video has been uploaded to YouTube
- 25% of search results for the world’s Top 20 largest brands link to USER-GENERATED content
- 34% of bloggers post active opinion about products and services around them
- 24 of the world’s largest 25 newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation
(**data provided by Socialnomics)
SocialNomics Video on the theme of Social Media
This list and reasons could go on and on! Suffice it to say that social-media has more than passing relevance to the public, as users and purveyors of its very essence.
Anana, in conjunction with Alcatel-Lucent and Genesys Telecommunications Labs has actively explored this passion for social-media and has created a new and exciting application that brings together some of the 20th century mainstay in Voice Messaging, with 21st Century Web 2.0 and Social-Media; bringing them together in a mashup of technology that delivers Twitter & Facebook (or any of the other players around the globe.) to traditional Voice-Mail and Voice Messaging.
The application uses a rich mix of VoiceXML, .Net, Web Standards such as SOAP and Web Services to act in real time, not only to the underlying telephony events but with web-services to the social-networks. These interactions at the technology level are wrapped in a rich, immersive and attractive "Voice User Interface" (VUI) that solicits surprise from callers, who, over the preceding 20 years or so have become used to a rather static and well known Voice Messaging Experience. The Graphical side of the experience - GUI (Graphical User Interface) is based on the Silverlight client and is a handy Unified Communications application (or the Alcatel-Lucent Rich Communications Manager - RCM - 5155 Details) that mixes call histories, with missed call notifications, and messages (recordings) in a single web accessible interface.
Instead of hearing the standard "Sorry, the person you have called is not available, please leave a message after the tone" (or several iterations on the same basic theme" a caller hears;
"Welcome to It's For You, you can leave a message in a just a second, but quickly, just before you do; let's check Twitter and Facebook....Twitter says "Hi, I am in a meeting in Town until 3:30pm'..and Facebook says 'Having fun with the family at the weekend at the beach'...so what's so important that you just have to leave a message, you know what to do....BEEP [Message Recording Starts]"
....or several iterations on this theme (There are many variations!). This is a new, dynamic, user experience, and solicits much higher rates of message deposits; as much due to the surprise factor, as well as the fact that the actual current status of the called party is now directly known. The called party of course no longer has to worry about updating their voice mail greeting each time their status updates. Twitter, RenRen, LinkedIn, Facebook et al now takes care of it!
For Example, I tweet an update to Twitter saying "I'm in the cinema until 8 p.m. Meeting at Harveys at 8:30." All callers that hit my voice-messaging service are hearing a topical, and appropriate response; and convenient for me because I happen to use Twitter in any case to update the world around me with my status, location and current activities.
The application can also play current updates from all web services extended social networks, or social-media streams on behalf of the mailbox owner.
All of this is naturally configurable by the users themselves through a rich Graphical User Interface; allowing them to turn on/off, configure and set their account preferences at any time.
Mailbox owners instantly receive a call alert from the solution via SMS, optionally an MMS with attachment (the recorded message). It is also sent as an MP3 attachment to email so voice-messages can be unified alongside email (dare we make mention of UC - Unified Communications !), stored and manipulated in the normal way. Voice Mails and the original recordings are of course still stored on the underlying message store system (CMS) and can be played, viewed, deleted through means of Visual Voice Mail on smart phones. The messages, plus all details of missed calls, or callers that heard the users service update from Twitter or Facebook that didn't leave a message are also listed, making it easy to follow up on callers who didn't leave a message, say, for example, after exiting an aircraft following an 8 hour long haul flight. Not all service providers offer full 'out of service' missed call alerts. The 'Its4u' service is also able to act as a full blown network concierge, offering auto-attendant functions to service users at any time.
It uses Speech Recognition and Text-to-Speech technology from Nuance in current form, but is able to support all leading speech technologies.
Brand and Personality (Persona) - The Voice User Interface
Its4u encapsulates a trendy, and rather surprising voice experience. By design it is high energy, and is set to tempt the millennial to deposit a message. It has a dynamic range of front-end experiences, so callers are unlikely to have the same conversation twice. Of course the social-media content is absolutely dynamic (rendered via Text-to-Speech.) and at the end of the message deposit phase the caller is again challenged with a cheeky, and very untraditional experience thanking them for using the service. Its4u can be personalized in any nature of infinite ways to suit particular markets, ethos, culture, language and user demographic, so lends itself to deployment in a wide range of carriers, service providers in all markets.
The Graphical User Interface - GUI
Its4u features a client interface created in Microsoft Silverlight that allows its4u subscribers to interact with the messages saved in the Carrier or Service Provider message store from the convenience of the unified desktop. This sits alongside unified communications integration of voice messages into their email workflow, and notifications for missed call events, and instances where people attempting to reach them did not leave a message. The its4u GUI supports their management of their own voicemail store, deleting messages, or replaying them from the convenience of any web enabled browser. Of course they also receive SMS and/or MMS notifications that include the original message in MP3 format too! Users configure their voice messaging relationship to the social-network backend in the graphical user interface, and can turn on and off features in real time. Any change made by the user in their own interface is immediately updated on the Voice Portal, so the next caller that should attempt to reach them will immediately hear the mailbox owners preference for Facebook, Twitter, QQ, RenRen, LinkedIn, Hi5 and so on. The VoiceXML generated by the its4u application is rendered in real-time driven by the user preferences and requires zero processing by the carrier or service provider.
Of course; the Graphical User Interface, as well as MMS, SMS and Email notifications are completely skinnable to carry the Brand image, look and feel of the service provider or network operator offering the service.
its4u Architecture (for the technically minded reader!)
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