While in Sardina recently I had a chance to spend time with Luca Filigheddu the prolific blogger of all things communications, tech and more recently Twitter. I have known Luca for years via his blog and I met him live for the first time at ITEXPO in Los Angeles a few years back. When I heard I was going to be in Sardinia I contacted him.
As part of my island tour I stopped by his company Abbeynet to learn more about what his company does. Located in a thoroughly modern looking office located a stone's throw from a group of really great outlet stores the company makes its living consulting and doing development for global carriers. But what seems to excite Luca most is his product Sitofono which consists of a call-back button and sophisticated back-end for websites allowing companies to more effectively communicate with customers.
Interestingly while in Sardinia I stayed at the Forte Village Hotel and while I was there they added a Sitofono button to their site (see below -- click to enlarge). In a test from his office we had our call to the hotel disconnect and the hotel called us right back. It worked like a charm.
Why is this a good thing? If a customer is sort of interested but not 100% sure -- you are alerted to their call and can call back quickly to try to sell them and/or overcome objections.
Luca further walked me through a whole bunch of mainstream sites in Italy which use the service. One was automaker Fiat.
The service is also becoming popular with American hotels and indeed the hospitality industry seems ripe for such a solution as click-to-call buttons encourage engagement which results in more room nights filled. This market has to do everything it can to lower the barrier to sales such as adding free calling buttons on websites which saves international charges for potential customers.
Click-to-call is far from new but Sitofono seems to be one of the more popular solutions out there and much of the reason for the success is probably due to the advanced stats and functions the solution provides. For example, using a dashboard you can see who called, the lost calls and you can even call directly from the application.
Another great example of how Sitofono works is this UK-based directory service called Citta where click-to-call links are included with the listings allowing a rapid connection between buyer and seller.
In addition to applications which help ecommerce, the company has also become a Twitter developer, providing solutions which augment and improve the service. One is called tweefind.com and it allows you to search Twitter users based on user rank calculated by a proprietary formula involving 20 different parameters. A few days ago Bing integration was added allowing you to expand your search on this Microsoft-based search engine. This is what a Tweefind search on rtehrani looks like.
The company offers other Twitter apps and I will share them with you in the future.
What strikes me about Abbeynet is how a company that once was focusing on carriers was able to branch out into the ecommerce/IP communications space and then move to the Twitter market.
To me the company is a model of what all companies need to be... Flexible, nimble and adaptable. After all, you never know which new application will be the "killer" which takes the company to the next level.
And by concentrating on telecom and social networking you spread the risk with two recession-resistant markets and you have the potential to seamlessly connecting these disparate solutions together offering useful solutions for customers.
From a carrier's perspective, they should be thrilled to work with a company so entrenched in the social media, ecommerce and social networking fields as carriers need to embrace these areas to boost revenue.
All that's left now is to develop some apps for the iTunes app store. There's always something more that needs to be done it seems. :)