We are getting closer to realizing the dream of Just in Time Communications or JiTC. As you may recall, JiTC is the concept of squeezing inefficiency out of communications. It is very similar to real-time communications but different in one essential way. Communications shouldn't be real-time. When you are on vacation or on the phone with your best customer and your boss calls, she shouldn't have real-time contact with you. She should receive a polite rejection message. Of course if the boss has an urgent reason for their call -- or anyone else does for that matter -- they should be able to break through to you.
For all the advancements we have made over the years in telecom we still need to pick up the phone to realize if the call is important enough to take. Yes Caller-ID helps but doesn't solve the problem.
In order to get around this quandry there needs to be a way for users to specify what is important, when it is important and how important it is. A company called Iotum has been working on this problem and has a novel solution to it. They have developed what they call a Relevance Engine and in the company's words it's the world's first smart platform to intelligently assess the relevance of a phone call, and route it to the most appropriate device on any network.
In a conversation with Alec Saunders the CEO of Iotum, he explains that people have an average of 14-16 ways they can be reached based on their surveys. This includes various phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IM accounts. Alec actually shut down three softphones just prior to our conversation so we wouldn't be interrupted.
What Iotum focuses on is squeezing inefficiency out communications; they help the right call get to the device of choice at the right time. They are actually able to rank calls based on numerous parameters such as whether you have taken calls from the person before, the time of day and whether your presence is set to do not disturb. You can also set your own rules if you like. The system ranks phone calls the way Google or Yahoo! might rank a web page. Google calls their ranking system Page Rank and many sites on the Internet are assigned a number between 1 and 10. The Google toolbar shows you this ranking depending on the site you are on.
The system also knows if your call will be short or long based on past history. We all know there are a few people that talk our ear off and if we have a choice we won't speak to these people five minutes prior to a board meeting. Why shouldn't your communications systems make sure you don't take calls from such people when you don't have the time to speak with them? Sure you could pick up the phone and politely ask to call back but we all know how offended people can get sometimes.
Another neat trick the system will soon be capable of is putting people into a conference bridge automatically. In other words if you schedule a conference call, the system detects when the people who belong on your call are calling in. Other callers not scheduled to be in the conference call will be routed to voicemail automatically.
So far Iotum's solution works with systems from Asterisk, Versatel Networks and Epygi. Contact the company directly for specifics.
I am 100% sure systems like this one from Iotum are the future of putting users in control of communicating. Iotum's Relevance Engine is Just in Time Communications at its best. The company is looking to partner with PBX makers not compete with them. I think every PBX vendor should be looking at JiTC and offering it to customers. There is no better application or differentiator for a PBX vendor than squeezing inefficiency out of communications.