It was only a matter of time – social networking has permeated so many aspects of our lives that almost one-in-five divorces cite Facebook as part of the reason for the split! Moreover, in some countries a single text message is legal grounds for divorce. But wait, how did I get on this tangent? This was supposed to be a happy story about how social networking has integrated with telephone service like never before, enabling carriers to generate revenue by tapping into one of the most popular phenomenons on the planet.
You see I got an email from Dave Tidwell the CEO of Anana LTD, whose company's goal is to connect users between 18-30 with next-gen phone service – allowing Twitter messages and Facebook status updates to be integrated into telephone calls. The company has a new service called its4u allowing you to call a phone and hear the latest social network updates before you even leave a message. Imagine location enabled tweets that are read to the caller via TTS allowing your friends and relatives to know where you are when they call.
As Tidwell says, it seems like a simple concept, indeed, but requires a very detailed integration to converged messaging, applications brokerage, voice and media platforms and some innovation in the voice user interface to pull it off! This is a mash up of Alcatel-Lucent Converged Messaging System, Messaging Applications Broker and the Genesys Voice Platform with Anana speech application framework... It’s coded in .Net and delivers rich VoiceXML with integrated Nuance Speech recognition to describe the unique user experience on each call.
At least one of the carriers working with this service is enabling Facebook wall integration of voicemail messages. If you are under 31 you probably think this is cool, if you are over 30 you are probably horrified. Remember, there really is no privacy anymore and users seem to be OK with it.
Tidwell explains this is fun and exciting and telephony is boring. He is right. Will consumers pay for such a service – maybe – probably and this concept may become as popular as text messaging over time. What is really interesting is the carrier response according to Tidwell is excitement with uneasiness about what this new innovation could mean for them.
And the enterprise market is excited as well – imagine now that when a call center gets a call, a company’s Facebook promotions and tweets can be read – thereby promoting these social media channels and increasing social CRM benefits a company receives.
With so many upsides and no downsides I can see – Anana could be leading an entire new category of social networking, telephony integration which could usher in a new era of innovations in communications and potentially revenue for those who embrace the idea.
Here is the demo number if you want to give it a whirl: +44 1454 258 069.