INFORMATION SERVICES MONTHLY www.ismonthly.com
Squaring The Circle Privacy versus mobile DA Alive And Kicking Published directories fight back? Design For Life? Designing the mobile internet
Launch Edition The definitive global publication for the Information Services Commmunity
Contents News: Europe
Design for life?
Wapple’s CTO, Rich Holdsworth tells ISM that by getting design right first time, Information Services players can reap the benfits of the mobile internet.
Alexandre Gaschard of EDA, Kirsty McKinney of Market Location and Stu Whitaker of Whitaker Associates, give us their views on online social networking. Threat or opportunity to the information services sector
Main feature: Squaring the circle
In the light of the recent Intelius case ISM talks to Jeff Strunk of Wireless Directory Networks and re-examines the question of consumer privacy versus the availability of wireless data.
Leading instead of coping
Optics CEO, John Manwell, casts some light on managing change, leading your business and fulfilling potential. Letter from America
ISM’s US contributing editor, Susan Campbell looks into the crystal ball to examine emerging trends in Information Services. Report from the EIDQ
Soft Method’s Felix Schupp, host for the recent plenary sessions of the EIDQ, reports back from Dubrovnik for ISM. Masterclass
ISM talks to Mark Temple of Call Genie about his long experience in the Information Services sector. Alive and kicking
ISM interviews KCOM’s Nick Thompson who champions the cause of published directories seeing them as better data aggregators than their online search competitors.
The great outsourcing debate
Location Location Location
ISM’s Sean Smith argues that the DQ/DA industry is well placed to capitalise on location based services.
Off shore or not sure? ISM hears both sides of the argument – from Infovision’s Aditya Gupta and KCOM’s Steven Cooper.
Market Location’s Patrick Bradshaw shoots from the hip.
Editorial INFORMATION SERVICES MONTHLY
Editorial Director - Sean Smith firstname.lastname@example.org Designer - Camilla Evans email@example.com US Contributing Editor - Susan Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org Commercial Director - Jacqueline Wallace email@example.com Publisher - Julian Jordan firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor - Liam Cowling email@example.com Information Services Monthly (ISM) is published by Jordan Communications Ltd., Pendle Innovation Centre, Brook Street, Nelson, Lancashire BB9 9PU, United Kingdom
+44 (0)845 4900 588 www.ismonthly.com www.jordan-comms.co.uk All rights reserved. No part of ISM may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording on any information storage or retrieval system without the written consent of the publisher. Opinions expressed in Information Services Monthly are not necessarily those of the editor, or of Jordan Communications Ltd.
Welcome to the launch edition of Information Services Monthly (ISM). In this edition we will be looking at a number of areas that impact the Information Services space, including mobile internet, location-based services and the great outsourcing debate (off-shore or on-shore) and we examine the directory publishing space with KCOM’s Nick Thompson. We also bring you a masterclass feature where we talk to Call Genie’s Mark Temple and our US Contributing editor, Susan Campbell looks at key areas of industry innovation in the States. All this plus news from Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. Going forward, we intend to bring you a bi-monthly e-newsletter that will alternate each month with the printed bi-monthly publication. We will seek to establish ISM as the market leading source of information to the Directory Enquiries (DQ), Directory Assistance (DA) and Information Services sector. We will bring you unique levels of news, analysis and comment regarding the global industry. We aim to establish ISM as a brand that is visually compelling and recognised as an impartial and objective beacon for the industry and a first point of reference for industry professionals. Our intention is that this should reflect the innovative and dynamic nature of the emerging Information Services sector that the magazine will be addressing. We are conscious that people consume information from the media in many diverse forms both as professionals and consumers. These two headsets overlap to some degree and as such people’s expectations are rarely met by, often dull, trade publications. We aim to defy this trend and produce a compelling, innovative, informative and entertaining publication, something which we hope will set us apart from other trade media. Finally, we are delighted to announce that we will be the official media partner for EDM08 (www.EuropeanDirectoryMarketplace.com) – the flagship event for the European Information Services sector – we hope to see many of you there (especially as ISM subscribers can get a £50 discount by quoting the following code (Discount Code: EDM08ISM). Sean Smith. Editorial Director
EDM08: Search In The Mobile Era June 9th, 2008, London This year’s EDM will consider the growth in mobile penetration and the way this has lead to the increased use of mobile devices for information access. This in turn has created demand that is driving the development of more mobile applications, leading to yet more increases in the use of mobile devices for information access. Providers are now in a race to develop innovative applications to increase usage, whilst revenue is expected to grow 500% over the next five years.
The EDM08 conference sessions will cover: • Keynote Address: Mr. Mike Short, Vice President of R&D, O2, and Chairman of MDA. • Information Service Providers: what will be the mix of voice versus data search, who will be ththe information service providers of the future, what will they be delivering? • Advertising: what role will advertising play? • Operators: what role will operators play and how will they work with other participants? • Technology: what technologies will have the greatest impact on information service? • Content: what content will be in demand, and how can one deliver it? • Innovation Showcase: presentations by organizations with innovative products and services thwith critiques by leading investors--submit your application now!
www.EuropeanDirectoryMarketplace.com is proud to be the official media partner of EDM08 INFORMATION SERVICES MONTHLY
Cystelcom Sistemas rolls-out its Veedia mobile search service CYSTELCOM SISTEMAS, the Madridbased supplier of 3G mobile video solutions, has announced the roll-out of its Veedia interactive mobile search service. Veedia enables users to utilise their 3G mobile phones to quickly and easily to find local businesses, interact with Google Maps results or even contact a business direct, by placing a standard video call to a dedicated number. When users search for a business, for example, Veedia delivers the results integrated into an interactive Google Map. According to Manuel Cuenca Vélez, CEO of Cystelcom, the Veedia system provides “high-value mobile services for on-the-go users when they need it most”.
EU Commissioner calls for greater ‘e-inclusion’ across Europe EU Commissioner Viviane Reading has called for greater inclusion across Europe, as she claims that 40 per cent of Europeans do not use the internet and are not benefiting from the socio-economic opportunities offered by the internet revolution. “If 51 per cent of Europeans seems like a success, the data also tells us that 40 per cent do not use the internet at all,” said Ms Reading. UK mobile social networking is still on the rise Research by Neilson Mobile has revealed that 44 per cent of UK mobile phone subscribers use an online social network. Twenty-five per cent of this group use their handset for social networking. 812,000 Britons each month – 1.7 per cent of UK mobile subscribers – visited a social networking website using their mobile during the first quarter of 2008. Facebook is the most popular site, being visited by more than 500,000 Britons – or nine per cent of all the UK’s mobile internet subscribers.
ISM partners prime European Directory Marketplace event ISM HAS agreed a media partnership with EDM08 – the flagship event for the European information services sector (www. EuropeanDirectoryMarketplace.com). The event takes place in London on June 9 and ISM subscribers are entitled to a £50 registration discount (Discount Code: EDM08ISM). The partnership is significant as both ISM and Whitaker Associates, the business behind EDM08, see Information Services evolving in the coming year or two, as demand drives the mobile internet and providers are engaged in a race to develop innovative applications to increase usage, whilst revenue is expected to grow 500 per cent over the next five years. This year’s conference keynote address, will be delivered by Mike Short, VP, Research and Development for O2. Short’s focus is on Third Generation cellular, Mobile TV and steering Telefonica O2 Europe’s mobile R&D. On the theme of new services, Whitaker Associates have also announced the Innovation Showcase at EDM08 and invited firms to submit entries to participate. Recognising the dramatic changes that are underway in the industry and the importance of innovation to succeed in the directory and search space, this year’s Innovation Showcase represents an evolution of the EDM awards program, first introduced in 2006. Last year’s winners were WDN Europe and Apptera.
service providers of the future, what will they be delivering? • Advertising: what role will advertising play? • Operators: what role will operators play and how will they work with other participants? • Technology: what technologies will have the greatest impact on information service? • Content: what content will be in demand, and how can one deliver it? • Innovation Showcase: EDM08 will conclude with presentations by organizations with innovative products and services with critiques by leading investors – submit your application now! Stuart Whitaker, of Whitaker Associates, the business behind EDM08, commented: “We’re delighted to have ISM as a media partner for EDM08. We share a common perspective on the marketplace – that legacy markets will continue to experience tremendous pressures, whilst new players will provide innovative applications and platforms, that will drive significant growth.”
The EDM08 conference sessions will cover:
Julian Jordan, ISM’s publisher, added: “For ISM to be the media partner of EDM08 – the premier European information services event – is something we’re delighted about. We think it’s a great fit and a great opportunity to build awareness for ISM and to support the continued success of the industry’s ‘mustattend’ event.”
• Information Service Providers: what will be the mix of voice versus data search, who will be the information
EDM08 is being held at the British Academy of Film and Theatre Arts (BAFTA) (www.bafta.org), in London.
This year, successful entries will have an opportunity to present on June 9th in London at the EDM08 Innovation Showcase session and to discuss their innovations with investors 3i, Delta Partners, DFJ Esprit, DN Capital, and other EDM08 delegates.
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Volt Delta wins multi-year DQ contract from eircom Volt Delta International has been awarded a multi-year agreement from eircom Ltd in Ireland to supply its directory services platform. The Volt Delta solution will enable eircom to completely replace its existing infrastructure with Volt Delta’s latest soft-switching technology. Volt Delta will supply its OASIS IPbased switching and contact centre system together with its 360 set of applications supporting eircom’s Directory Services including 11811 National Directory Enquiries, Golden Pages Talking, 11818 UK and 11818 International Directory Enquiries, Alarm Clock Call, Special Directory Enquiries and Minicom. Gerry Culligan, Director of Consumer Markets for eircom said, “Before choosing Volt Delta we carried out extensive reference site visits to many of Volt Delta’s key customers around Europe and were impressed by what we found. The system we have selected will allow us to compete more effectively.”
Internet growth contributes to a record year for PagesJaunes PAGESJAUNES GROUPE posted a 6.6 per cent growth in consolidated revenues for the first quarter of 2008 – with consolidated revenues from internet services alone up 22.1 per cent to almost €107million. A three per cent decrease in revenues from printed directories in France – the result of a pricing restructuring – was partially offset by an average growth of around two per cent in PagesJaunes’ 24 provincial directories published in the first quarter. As a result, the company was able to confirm full-year targets of revenue growth in excess of five per cent, with internet services representing perhaps 40 per cent of the group’s consolidated revenues for the year.
Wapple’s Canvas Zest turns old-style print interactive Wapple, the mobile internet site specialists have announced the release of their latest mobile internet site builder and publishing tool, Canvas Zest. The tool automatically generates a unique data matrix code and QR code for each mobile web page created, which can be printed on advertisements, magazine articles, or even posters to provide an immediate call to action. When the code is scanned by a mobile camera phone it links straight through to the promoted page – anything from further information and registering interest, to a competition entry, buying concert tickets or other product purchases. Datamatrix and QR codes are barcodes consisting of a totally unique pattern of black and white squares that act as a quick link through to a specific mobile web page. Wapple’s Canvas Zest will automatically generate these codes which can be printed anywhere. Once the codes are scanned into the mobile device, consumers can quickly and easily access promoted content any time and any where they are. And unlike SMS triggers it is a free service.
Wapple is understood to be looking at the information services space as a means to roll out their solutions “The addition of data matrix or QR codes to print media meets a market demand for offering an easy, cost effective brand interaction with consumers on the move,” said Anne Thomas, co-founder of Wapple. “For the consumer, waiting for the bus, a train journey or simply reading a paper or magazine becomes more interesting with the ability to purchase products, respond to articles or enter competitions without having to be back in front of a PC. And for the brand it not only provides an immediate call to action but a new and effective way to measure the success of print campaigns. “Of course it doesn’t stop at print media, these codes can be promoted just about anywhere for a vast number of purposes. “Consumers will love the opportunity for instant response and discovery of what this new technology can provide. This adds a completely new dimension to print media, which can only be good news for marketing campaigns,” Thomas added.
Nokia to focus on internet rather than manufacturing Finnish mobile handset giants Nokia has outlined plans to diversify into mobile software and services. The move is being seen by industry insiders as a means to compete with the likes of Apple, Google, and Microsoft, who are increasingly being seen as competitors by the world’s largest handset manufacturer.
CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, speaking at Nokia’s annual shareholder meeting, said Nokia’s aim is to “act less like a traditional manufacturer, and more like an internet company.” Kallasvuo pointed to Nokia’s pending acquisition of GPS specialist Navteq as evidence that Nokia was entering new markets such as pedestrian navigation and digital mapping.
The time for Mobile Directory Assistance has arrived!
Consumers Want Privacy ity tiv ec nn Co ed Ne s er um ns Co Provides Both! ice rv Se ® te No m Co ed nt te pa ’s WDN ComNote® is a secure SMS notification technology that enables mobile subscribers to remain unpublished in directories, yet allows them to be contacted via text message without revealing their wireless phone numbers. Our software uses SMS text messaging to notify mobile consumers of a Directory Assistance request for their number, whether on-line or via operator. Additionally, we empower wireless consumers by giving them immediate and direct control over the privacy status of their mobile number, by responding to the initial SMS message. “ComNote provides a secure, operator system-facilitated caller ID service, protecting subscriber privacy and providing a user friendly and seamless contact service.” - Jeffrey Strunk, CEO, Wireless Directory Network
Contacts: Worldwide: Jeffrey Strunk at 001.207.939.0100 (M) or 001.207.237.3007, for additional information or to arrange a time to meet at EDM 08 (London – June 9). Europe: Enrique Martinez de Velasco, WDN-Europe 34-609-002690
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All aboard the French internet express! French rail operator SNCF has announced that three of their TGV trains are testing satellite-delivered mobile internet access. The system is being delivered by UDcast, whose UDgateway internetaccess appliance is installed in the Wi-Fi equipment and servers being used during the trial. The trial is a hybrid satellite/Wi-Fi solution created specifically for the needs of the SNCF services portal, ensuring continuity of service as trains reach speeds of more than 170 mph. The portal delivering the SNCF service is based on a non-stop internet connection via UDgateway integrated by Orange Business Services into its servers. Performance is enhanced by the UDgateway – as IP transmissions are usually slowed by satellite delay. The equipment adapts protocols like TCP and HTTP by optimising bandwidth to increase the rapidity of file sending. Data compression mechanisms allow faster data exchanges and use less bandwidth. The UDgateway can also encrypt communications and transmissions established between TGV and the satellite ISP as well as integrating a firewall function, protecting onboard networks from internet attacks.
Connectivity Ltd purchases 118 800 buisness from KCOM HULL-BASED wholesale DQ business KCOM has announced that it has entered into a long term arrangement with Connectivity Ltd for the delivery of its directory enquiries services.
consideration of £1.45million in cash.
As part of the arrangement, Connectivity is purchasing 118 800 Ltd from KCOM. This gives Connectivity access to a premium DQ number, as part of its strategy to launch new, innovative services. For this, Connectivity is paying a
“The relationship with Connectivity provides us with a real opportunity to exploit the depth and breadth of our skills in outsourced contact centre services. We look forward to working closely with Connectivity as it delivers new services.”
Bango offer measurability for mobile advertising WHILE advertisers can compare the value of the traffic from thirdparty mobile ad services using independent data, some companies have reported discrepancies of up to 20 per cent between what they are paying for and the traffic they are actually getting. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has reported the need for “independent testing and scrutiny to build trust and confidence in mobile advertising”. Bango aims to fill this gap with a service that provides hard data, free from any vendor bias. Their new goal comparison feature is designed to help marketers measure the return on investment for campaigns across different ad networks, enabling them to make smarter buying decisions. Bango claims that its User ID technology offers a level of precision not found with other mobile analytics products ‘by providing a reliable and persistent identity for every mobile user’.
Malcolm Fallen, Chief Executive of KCOM Group, said “This arrangement fits with our ongoing commitment to focus on our core capabilities.
“It’s not the number of hits on your site that ultimately matters but whether they convert into value for the business,” said Ray Anderson (pictured above), CEO of Bango. “Measuring ROI through accurate tracking can make the difference between success and failure. “Businesses that aggregate traffic from a wide variety of sources and want an independent way of ensuring the traffic they receive is what they paid for, can use Bango Analytics as their trusted auditing tool,” added Anderson. Bango Analytics operates as a hosted service, allowing mobile website owners anywhere in the world to connect their sites to the Analytics service in minutes and use it free of charge.
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US landline use freefall Research conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics has confirmed that less Americans are using landlines as their main communication tool, with more now relying principally on mobile phones and the internet. The report’s findings have significant implications for Information Services providers, as the research found that one in every six US homes (or 15.8 per cent) owned only a handheld unit during the last six months of 2007, up from only 6.1 per cent in 2004. This trend has implications for both the intractable problems of DA services giving out mobile numbers, but also creates opportunities to upsell value added services to mobile customers While the use of ‘cell-phones’ has grown, landline use has dropped across the country since 2000. In New York, landline usage was down by 55 per cent, New Jersey by 50 per cent, California by 21 per cent, Texas by 20 per cent and Connecticut by 10 per cent. The report’s author, Craig Moffett, said on fixed line telephony: “This is a business that is not showing any signs of recovery.”
‘Operators may spend $850m on FMC by 2013’ A new study by New York-based, ABI Research has claimed that mobile operators will be spending nearly $850million on fixedmobile convergence (FMC) and 4G Equipment in 2013.
other mobile broadband-enabled consumer electronic products – all add to network load. Operators’ need for FMC and 4G equipment to meet that extra demand creates real opportunities for vendors.”
The growing use of mobile internet services by handsets, laptops, MIDs, and mobile CE devices will place ever-increasing demands on 3G networks. In the end, 4G networks will be required because people use devices wherever they are.
All these factors mean necessary changes to the mobile network landscape. FMC requires a wellintegrated network incorporating unified cross-platform applications. The growth of various types of innovative information services could be impeded without such investment in infrastructure.
Meanwhile, one way to reduce the stress on network capacity is through the use of fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), which routes traffic through customers’ wired broadband connections when they are at home. ABI’s research suggests that capital expenditure by mobile operators on 4G base station gateways and FMC-related carrier equipment will approach $850million in 2013. “FMC is not just about relieving networks’ voice traffic congestion, but data too,” said principal analyst Philip Solis. “3G handsets with Wi-Fi, laptops that often feature cellular connections, the new class of mobile internet devices, and
As femtocell mobile base stations are gradually introduced, they will up the ante, becoming embedded as a function in any number of customer premises equipment, from DSL gateways to set-top boxes. ABI restimates that the $850million capital expenditures of the network operators will be spread between FMC platforms, 4G base stations, and the 4G gateways that aggregate their traffic. ABI Research is a market research firm focused on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets.
Besides mobile phone use, VoIP is also fast gaining users among US residents as a way of cutting the cost of long distance and international telephone calls.
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The move away from landlines was further reflected in a finding by the report that 13.1 per cent or one in every eight homes received the bulk of calls on their ‘cell-phones’, even in homes where there was also a fixed landline.
AT&T has announced the launch of a 3G high-speed wireless network for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket on the eastern seaboard of the US. Applications previously only available “over the bridge” will now be available to visitors, businesses and full-time Cape and island residents. The high-speed wireless network provides speeds equivalent to the mobile internet and access to
the latest interactive voice, video and data applications. In recent years, AT&T has invested heavily in New England to expand and enhance its wireless network. With the addition of Cape Cod and the Islands, the AT&T 3G network is now available in more than 270 US major metropolitan areas. The company expects to deliver 3G service to nearly 350 leading US markets by the end of 2008, including all of the top 100 cities.
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Rogers Wireless ‘anytime, anyplace’ with oneSearch
Microsoft aims for lion’s share of smart-phone market by 2012 US IT giant, Microsoft is aiming to win 40 per cent of the smart-phone market with Windows Mobile by the year 2012. Their announcement is ambitious given that the company has only a small share of the current market for smart-phone operating systems at the moment. Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to face stiff competition from the likes of Symbian, Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry, and new entrants such as Google’s Android platform. Chilean operator makes branding agreement with Vodafone Chile-based operator Entel PCS and Vodafone have signed a Partner Market agreement. The strategic alliance will see the introduction of an exclusive range of Vodafone products and services made available for Entel PCS customers in the Republic of Chile.
Texas Instruments pull out puts UWB roll-out in doubt Ultra-wideband, the fast shortrange wireless link, that we were promised would be in handsets and PCs by now, is on the brink of failure after Texas Instruments pulled out of the technology. TI has pulled out of the Wimedia Alliance – the trade body behind UWB – and put its weight behind the 802.11n fast Wi-Fi standard. This follows the Bluetooth SIG which shifted to 802.11n for the fast version of its protocol, thus downgrading a UWB version which has yet to be delivered.
CANADIAN mobile operator, Rogers Wireless has become the first North American carrier to launch Yahoo! oneSearch, enabling Rogers Wireless and Fido customers across Canada to have access to Yahoo!’s awardwinning Mobile Search Service. With this launch, Rogers becomes the first North American carrier to bring Yahoo!’s revolutionary mobile search service and starting point to the mobile internet directly to its customers. The announcement builds on the expanded Rogers Communications Inc and Yahoo! multi-year mobile, broadband and PC search agreements announced late last year. “As the leading wireless carrier in Canada, Rogers Wireless continues to offer the latest innovations today’s youth want in mobile technology,” said John Boynton, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Rogers Wireless. “Yahoo!’s revolutionary mobile search service provides our customers easy and instant access to the latest and greatest Rogers content and all the relevant results and instant answers to the information they care about anytime and anywhere.”
Yahoo! oneSearch is specifically designed for mobile devices, delivering relevant results directly in the first screen thereby removing the need for consumers to navigate through a sea of links to PC websites to find the information they want. Yahoo! oneSearch also gives consumers access to news, financial information, weather conditions, Flickr photos, web images, as well as web and mobile web sites. “Yahoo! revolutionised mobile search by developing Yahoo! oneSearch from the ground up – focusing on delivering consumers answers, not just web links and further driving adoption of the mobile internet,” said Bruce Stewart, Vice-President and General Manager of Connected Life Americas, Yahoo! Inc. “Rogers is very forward thinking in delivering compelling and innovative mobile services to their customers. “With their deployment of Yahoo! oneSearch, Rogers has led the way in mobile search in Canada and has again delivered upon its goal to meet consumer demand for compelling mobile services. In just over a year, we have signed 29 Yahoo! oneSearch partnerships with carriers across the globe, including Rogers, covering more than 600million consumers.”
Comcast hooks up with Plaxo After an extended courtship Comcast has finally done the decent thing and decided to tie up with Plaxo. Rumours circulated earlier this year that Comcast, the largest cable MSO in the US would sign a deal to purchase the California-based socialnetworking business. The financial terms of the deal aren’t known, although earlier gossip suggested a value around $175 million. Plaxo
and its 50 employees will remain an “independent operation,” reporting into the Comcast Interactive Media Labs division. The deal is expected to be closed imminently. ISM will await developments to see Comcast plans for Plaxo. The Plaxo claims to have nearly 50 million users, compared to LinkedIn’s 20 million users, Facebook’s 70 million users, and MySpace’s 117 million users.
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RIM releases Blackberry Bold 9000 Research In Motion (RIM) has unveiled the BlackBerry Bold 9000, their new high-end smartphone. Billed it as elegant and dramatic, the device runs on third-generation (3G) networks. With the Bold, BlackBerry is the latest devicemaker to beat the Apple iPhone to the 3G punch. And last week, smartphone rival HTC unveiled the Touch Diamond,a touch-screen device similar to the iPhone which also runs on 3G networks. Apple is expected to have a 3G iPhone availablethis summer. In a statement, RIM Co-CEO and president Mike Lazaridis said: “The new BlackBerry Bold represents a tremendous step forward in business-grade smartphones and lives up to its name with incredible speed, power and functionality all wrapped in a beautiful and confident design.”
Warelex to be acquired by Shape Services Brooklyn-based mobile applications development firm Warelex LLC is being acquired by German firm Shape Services GmbH for $2.9million. The merged business will be a 75-person mobile applications development firm with offices in Europe, Asia and New England. A company statement said the focus would be on creating unique social networking and multimedia applications for the mobile environment. The combined company will begin developing new products immediately, and executives expect to release a “mobile real-time broadcasting and social networking service” by the end of 2008, according to Igor Berezovsky, CEO of Shape Services.
Eye-Fi’s Explorer to help us all live life through a lens CALIFORNIA-BASED Eye-Fi Inc, who were responsible for the world’s first wireless memory card for digital cameras, have announced the arrival of a new card designed to make photo sharing “richer, easier and more convenient” – a move which is set to consolidate the success of the burgeoning mobile internet social networking sector. The Eye-Fi Explore allows users to upload photos from more than 10,000 wireless hotspots while away from home, as well as their home wireless network. It also automatically tags users’ photos with information about where the image was captured. The card has been developed in partnership with Skyhook Wireless, which will provide automatic geotagging, and Wayport, which enables public and private applications in hotels, McDonald’s restaurants, Hertz
airport locations, and other top retail centres across the US. Skyhook currently provides coverage of more than 70 per cent of the population of North America, as well as the 50 most densely populated areas of Europe. “The Eye-Fi Explore delivers the two enhancements most requested by our users,” said Jef Holove, CEO of Eye-Fi. “Our geotagging service automates what is today a compelling, though time-consuming and manual, experience. And, our hotspot access will allow travellers, bloggers, and anyone on the go to upload, share and save their pictures before they even get home.” The market-leading photo-hosting site Flickr, which was acquired by Yahoo! Corp in 2005, receives around 3000 uploaded images a minute from users around the globe.
Metro One sells off surplus DQ property for $8million METRO ONE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INC has announced the sale of a large portfolio of surplus intellectual property to a subsidiary of kgb, formerly INFONXX, Inc, a provider of live operator directory assistance services headquartered in New York. The price was $8million in cash.
organisation,” said Jim Hensel, CEO of Portland, Oregon-based Metro One. “By selling this surplus portfolio, we now have sufficient financial stability to implement our plans in contact services and data base services, including electronic data management.”
The portfolio consisted of a number of issued and pending North American patents, as well as various trademarks and domain names originally developed for Metro One’s recently discontinued live operator directory assistance business unit.
The move comes two months after Metro One announced a significant restructuring, designed to the improve cashflow and focus on its fledgling data and contact services business, leading to the closure of call centres in Long Island, Portland, Minneapolis, Orlando, Charlotte and Honalulu and the loss of around 600 jobs. The company says it will continue to provide directory assistance services via the internet.
“This patent portfolio was built to support our live operator directory assistance business unit, which is no longer the focus of our
NEWS: ASIA PAC NEWS: WORLD Google plans local mobile search for India
Google has said that in India its focus will be on local web search, spatial search such as maps, and queries based on mobile phones, besides building awareness of its social networking site Orkut. India is Google’s second largest market in terms of the number of people who use the search engine. “Staying focused around the core of search is very important for us here and we will invest more deeply in search that is more relevant locally, whether defined by Indian languages or by a better map experience,” said Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, president, Asia Pacific and Latin America, Google. “We recognise that mobile is the next touchdown for India. You will start to see investments in the mobile search area.” TRAI to intervene in India IPTV row THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is set to intervene on the issue of prices that broadcasters are offering to the IPTV service providers. At present, broadcasters are charging a very high tariff from IPTV service providers. This has emerged as a major roadblock in the services taking off.
Asian entreprise mobile users demand LBS LOCATION-based services and sales force automation are right at the top of the wish-lists of Asian enterprise mobile users. According to Grace Ho, director of business segment marketing of Microsoft’s mobile communications business in Asia-Pacific, Greater Japan and China, there has been “increased interest” in enterprise mobility applications over the last year.
Ho added that businesses want the ability to track their workforce’s location and prioritise their responses to customers’ needs. She said: “When customers think about enterprise mobility, they are looking beyond mobile messaging solutions – and they are increasingly looking at mobile lineof-business applications.”
“IPTV services are at nascent stage and we will have to do something about it,” said Trai chairman Nripendra Misra. Initiative promises one billion Africans satellite connectivity One billion Africans located in underserved rural and urban areas across the continent are set to benefit from an initiative powered by the Global VSAT Forum, a non-profit association of the international satellite industry.
Having already established a global strategic partnership with Nokia, Egypt Yellow Pages’ Mobile Portal will now allow any other internetenabled mobile device access to the YellowPages.com.eg database in a “mobile friendly user interface”. The service can be accessed in either Arabic or English.
The initiative is expected to double the number of earth station terminals operating across continental Africa by 2012.
Marc Lambert, Regional Managing Director of Egypt Yellow Pages, said: “What makes the release of Mobile
He added that mobile phones and their applications have in recent years emerged as “key access devices” to both co-ordinate and manage corporate information and processes developments. The news comes a month after Sun’s announcement that it will enable Java applications to run on Apple’s iPhone, opening up the possibility of the device eventually running a range of enterprise applications.
Egypt’s Yellow Pages portal goes worldwide Egypt Yellow Pages Ltd has announced the release of its Mobile Yellow Pages Portal, which will see its popular YellowPages.com. eg website become accessible to virtually any mobile device in Egypt and around the world that has the ability to access the internet.
Naveen Asrani, manager of technology outreach at Sun Microsystems Asia-Pacific confirmed that reporting, data warehousing and sales force automation applications are often mentioned when customers demand new applications from his company.
Yellow Pages so exciting is that we now have the ability to deliver targeted mobile advertising directly and exclusively to mobile devices though our proprietary advertisingserving technology.” “We are no stranger to delivering Yellow Pages content to mobile devices,” Lambert added. “We have been doing it since 2006 – when we signed a worldwide agreement with Nokia to make the YellowPages.com. eg database available to millions of Nokia devices around the world. “Since then, we have acquired not only an expertise in the mobile directory space, but our customers have come to trust our ability to deliver their content electronically regardless of the platform.”
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NEWS: ASIA PACIFIC
Indian consumers take a ‘relaxed’ view of mobile privacy issues INDIAN mobile users are far more relaxed about sharing information about their location with their friends than their counterparts in the West, with no-less than 87 per cent of them happy with their phones broadcasting their position continuously. While India is still in its very early stages as a market for portable navigation devices such as GPSenabled mobiles, the survey by Canalys found that younger, techsavvy, middle class consumers are both aware of the technology and eager to use it. Metropolitan Kuala Lumpur finally goes wireless Kuala Lumpur’s wireless metropolitan has now launched with the entire capital city to be covered by a wireless broadband access network in the near future. This means that if you are in KL, you will be able to use the service, which runs at 512kb per second, for free over the next two years.
Hong Kong to issue three WIMAX licenses
Asia-Pacific developers eye NAVTEQ’s $4.5million prize 2008 is the first year that the many application developers based in the Asia-Pacific region have been able to enter the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge in the five-year history of the program. The NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge sets application developers around the world the task of building innovative location-based services which work with mobile phones and/or wireless handheld devices using dynamic positioning technology and, of course, NAVTEQ’s own world-renowned maps. Now in its fifth year, the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge continues to be the symbol of innovation in the mobile LBS space by shining a spotlight on its most talented developers and entrepreneurs. The challenge has become one of the premier events in the LBS calendar and a global symbol of LBS innovation and opportunity. Winners are chosen by a panel of distinguished judges in three regions
– the Americas, Europe-Middle EastAfrica, and Asia-Pacific – and this year’s prize pool (consisting of cash and data licenses) is worth more than $4.5million. Twelve semi-finalists have been shortlisted on applicability, design, functionality and solution overview. Innovations to come out of the Challenge this year range from AtlasCT’s City Cruiser off-board mobile navigation application and Flypaper Inc’s location-based advertising solution to Road-Guard’s GreenDrive fuel efficiency system and the self-explanatory Lonely Planet Mobile City Guide. “The Asia-Pacific region is a talentrich area for wireless developers and the potential for innovative LBS applications is tremendous,” commented Marc Naddell, VP of Chicago-based NAVTEQ. The winner of the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge will be announced at CommunicAsia in Singapore on June 18, 2008.
The Chinese administration of Hong Kong is expected to issue three WiMAX operation licenses in the fourth quarter of 2008.
SingTel’s ‘strong growth’ delivers subscriber hike
The move, which could lead to an unseemly scramble amongst the world’s leading telecom equipment vendors, is also expected to deliver business opportunities for Taiwanbased WiMAX equipment makers, according to market sources.
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) has announced that its Asia Pacific mobile phone subscriber base his risen by 50 per cent to 185.34million at the end of the March quarter from a year earlier.
Vietnam clamps down on mobile misreporting with audit FOllowing a series of disputes in Vietnam regarding mobile subscriber numbers, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) has announced that it is to conduct an audit of operators this month in order to publish a definitive list of each operator’s subscribers.
SingTel, Southeast Asia’s biggest telecom firm, said that the increase was attributable to strong growth in all eight of its markets – Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand – as well as the home market in Singapore.
Vox Pop: from vox po·pu·li Pronunciation: [voks pop-yuh-lahy] Noun: Voice of the people; popular opinion. Popular opinion or sentiment. Origin: < Latin vōx populī : vōx, voice + populī,genitive of populus, people. >
Here at ISM, we felt that it would be interesting to canvass the opinions of industry leaders on a given subject in each issue. In our launch issue we thought we’d consider internet social networking and its implications for information services. It’s difficult to keep track of the proliferation of social networking sites. As the telecoms convergence agenda gathers pace and we see the exponential growth of the mobile internet, what are the implications for the Information Service industry? So, in between bouts of ‘scrabulous’ and movie quizzes, ISM decided to ‘poke’ some of their friends. Three industry personalities, Stu Whitaker of Whitaker Associates, Kirsty McKinney of Market Location and Alexandre Gaschard of EDA, came back to us with their views on online social networking.
Do you use social networking sites yourself? If so, which ones? How do you find them? “I have been experimenting with a bunch of sites – LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Dodgeball, mig33, Orkut, radius IM, Spoke, Twitter, Xanga, Taptu, Tipped, Zyb, and a number of others. Some of the things that I like are ease of use and immediate utility – these tend to grab me and keep me coming back.” Do they represent the death of Directory Services or are they the future of Information Services? “There is a tension between a ‘one site fits all’ approach and a best-in-class specialized approach – each has its advantages and disadvantages. Consistent with the ‘long tail’, the days are past where there is a single repository of ‘the information’ – social networking sites reflect one part of the future of Information Services.” Name:
President and CEO, Work: Whitaker Associates
Home town & country:
That’s way too personal!
Favourite sports team:
Jamaican Bobsled Team
Fired up and ready to go!
As an application that is relevant to business, how do you see social networking sites evolving over the next five years? “Borrowing from an idea articulated by Josh Kopelman, one of the significant ways that I see social networking sites evolving involves news feeds and the semantic web. Next time I’m searching for something – music, a movie, a date – services that can tap into social networks data stream will be very compelling. One of the most valuable enabling features being built into social networking sites today are privacy controls, which allows users to control who sees what about them – everything from phone numbers and emails to much more sensitive information.” Stuart M Whitaker, Whitaker Associates, European Directory Marketplace, The Operator Online. Stu works within dynamic industries, offering analysis, intelligence, and business development services.
Do you use social networking sites yourself? If so, which ones? How do you find them? “Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook is purely social, LinkedIn is much more business and Twitter is a mixture of work and play! Working in marketing LinkedIn has proved a great resource for connecting with other industry folk. Twitter I’m still getting to grips with, but I can see it being highly addictive.” Do they represent the death of Directory Services or are they the future of Information Services?
Brand Manager, Work: Market Location Home town & country:
Bit of a band groupie myself. Stone Roses, Oasis, The Rifles, The Doors etc!
Favourite sports team:
Coventry Blaze Ice Hockey
Freaked out following my first experience of ‘In The Night Garden’.
“These are two very distinct things. Personally, I don’t think social networks will ever be a true challenger to Directory Services. What’s likely to happen is people will be much more led by the opinions of their peers and friends. It will influence their choice of brands, products and services, and people will go out looking for the opinions of the people they respect. We are already seeing this on Twitter, where people invite opinions from others to help them make their decisions. In my opinion social networking sites are being used as an additional source in the decision-making process to avoid the cognitive dissonance or insecure feeling following a purchase – but mainly they are just a bit of fun! As an application that is relevant to business, how do you see them evolving over the next five years? “LinkedIn is the best example of business networking success. But it is not as widely used as it could and should be. I see it becoming much more popular in the future as people get to grips with how it can benefit them and their businesses. The Facebook generation has followed the Friends Reunited generation and we have the Bebo generation to follow us who are completely reliant on the internet for a social life. The idea of a social network that was purely for business would struggle to succeed at the moment. We have enough going on in our working lives as it is! But I can see the Bebo generation adopting this.”
Do you use social networking sites yourself? If so, which ones? How do you find them? “I use several social networking sites – LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo and Viadeo. However, I’m not really ‘using’ them – I simply responded to an ‘invitation to connect’ from a ‘friend’ or a contact, nothing more. LinkedIn is the one site that I think does bring some value – the rest of these sites are completely useless to their ‘users’, never mind business users! The basis of a social network is that the participants, have something in common – when I look at the people I’m connected with, the ‘common interest’ is sometimes extremely loose, like having been to the same university, having met once at a conference, or just living in the same country. And, even though you might have common interests with a limited number of people, you wouldn’t spend days and nights discussing such matters through Messenger or Skype with them, so why suddenly log on to Facebook to discuss them?” Do they represent the death of Directory Services or are they the future of Information Services? Name:
European Directory Assistance, CEO
Home town & country:
“No way. I don’t even understand in which way they could represent a threat to the directory industry. The exception may be the feature they offer to find people – though in general the complete and most important details like email addresses or telephone number are not available in any of these social networking sites.”
Brit-pop and rap
As an application that is relevant to business, how do you see social networking evolving over the next five years?
Favourite sports team:
The French football team of 1998
Listening to the new Charlatans’ album
“I think the social networking sites represent the new internet bubble, and most of them will lose ground or worse, disappear. The exception would be a social networking site that really does have tangible benefits – such as Linkedin because of the possibility of being able to look for a job by passing on one’s details to several people, or conversely finding the ideal employee.
Squaring The How do you reconcile consumer privacy with a wireless directory? WDNâ€™s Jeff Strunk believes he has the answerâ€Ś
Circle... Mobile telephony is synonymous with the notion of privacy. After all, your residential land line ‘belongs’ to the house. That is, it’s static and it becomes the communal property of all those who live there – mum, dad, kids, gran and granddad… you get the picture.
However, your mobile phone is yours – solely and uniquely yours. The number isn’t associated with an address as such, just a person – you. So, it’s understandable that people want to keep that number to themselves and just trusted friends and associates.
That’s all well and good until there’s a crisis, as Jeff Strunk of Wireless Directory Networks (WDN) can confirm. Several years ago, a family bereavement left Jeff desperately trying to contact his brother, who was out of town. Unfortunately, so was Jeff and he hadn’t got his brother’s new cell phone number. By a cruel twist of irony, Strunk’s brother was actually in Chicago at the same time as he was and staying at a hotel just down the block. Eventually, knowing he was unlikely to find the number, Strunk rang his mobile network and asked them. As you’d expect, they weren’t very forthcoming. Having called friends and relatives to try to contact his brother, Strunk eventually dialled 411. “I called directory assistance just for the heck of it and they said: ’No, are you crazy? You’ve got to get that number off the person’ .” “So, I was totally stuck – we could have gone out to dinner, we could have talked about our uncle who had died, I could have informed my brother quicker. Yet we totally missed each other.” A serial entrepreneur and inventor, Strunk decided that there had to be a better way and came up with the idea that would become WDN’s ComNote proposition. In short, this allows a caller to request that an SMS message is sent to somebody else’s mobile – giving them a series of options to respond (or not, as the case may be). It’s a tidy proposition which seems to resolve the mobile DA quandary – allowing both access and availability, whilst ensuring and respecting privacy. However, the privacy issue in respect to mobile DA hasn’t gone away and is still causing controversy. Earlier this year, US-based Intelius launched an online directory assistance service for cell-phone numbers, but backed down and withdrew the service after pressure coming from both wireless carriers and consumers. According to its website, the company had around 90million numbers in its database and was selling them to anyone who had a name and wanted a number for $15 an enquiry. This all comes nearly four years after CTIA – The Wireless Association, proposed the idea of a wireless directory. Verizon Wireless (a significant player in the CTIA, and whose President and CEO Lowell McAdam is the current chair) described mobile directories as a “dumb idea.”
In January, Verizon Wireless called on Intelius “to halt the mining and sale of these private numbers.” Perhaps the ultimate winners in all this will be the companies offering mobile internet or mobile enhanced SEO, who can deliver internet information services direct to mobile devices. Farhad Divecha, Managing Director of Accuracast, thinks that this is definitely the case: “As information aggregators / organisers improve their mobile offering and content providers use mobile SEO / PPC adverts to ensure consumers can find their websites when searching for them, the ease of searching online and the lower cost will drive more consumers away from directory assistance services – especially those that charge money. “For operators like Verizon, the objective is to position themselves as the information organiser (via their own search offering), thereby safeguarding the potential to earn large mobile search ad revenues in the future. While this may seem far-fetched, most operator moves in the past few months have been based on this drive to protect their walledgardens and not give away too much to the likes of Google. “Anything that allows consumers to quickly and easily find accurate information is good. If it does that for free, it is a winner. That’s the whole reason why Google exists and why it is so successful.” So, the intractable privacy issue could actually speed the decline of traditional DA, as more and more of us use mobiles rather than landlines. The internet community seems poised to win the Information Services race. But this is by no means a forgone conclusion. WDN’s ComNote proposition could be amongst a series of innovations which could help DA players retain market share in the mobile world. Interestingly, Jeff Strunk regards the privacy issue as the first major problem he faced when starting the development of ComNote. “The privacy issue around the globe means that people were very concerned to keep their numbers private. There would only be between two and eight per cent of the people willing to list their cell numbers – so it wasn’t enough to create a critical mass and have a successful system.”
So how do you tap into a market that is predominantly concerned with privacy? Strunk’s solution was to develop a caller ID system that would be able to send the name and number of the enquiring party to the person they were trying to find. Crucially, the person receiving the call could make the choice whether they would accept the call or not. Essentially ComNote works in a way similar to other directory services in that you call or go to the internet and give the criteria of the person or business you’re trying to contact.
Mobile penetration is at saturation point in most mature marketplaces and service providers are increasingly offering ‘naked broadband’ (a line into a house or business purely for data and not traditional PSTN voice services). “Small contractors have no need for a landline. They don’t want to pay the extra fee but they have no place to go with the business wireless network. Yet for a lot of small businesses, that’s what drives their business – being listed, and listed in many places.”
A typical enquirer would give the city and state and then the name of the person or business they’re looking for. If there are several entries under the same name, they could narrow the search with a street name. They would then be informed that the operator has a wireless number that has privacy protection, so the enquirer would have the option to send an SMS with their name and call back phone number. The person they are trying to contact receives a ComNote which tells them who is trying to contact them and how they can reach them, if they wish. Additionally, a ComNote can be labelled as an emergency, a business relationship, personal or urgent. The people who send the ComNote are charged for the service rather than those who receive it. “So it’s very simple and fluid – and it’s not intrusive. People can take their time in the decision to call back right away, or they can text message it, put in their phone book or put it on a blocked numbers list,” says Strunk. Strunk is philosophical about the recent furore about Intelius’s moble directory: “The good news is they proved that there is a demand for a directory service that provides wireless numbers and that people will pay a premium – they charged $15 per query. “The thing they did wrong, was they went on social sites and sites where you sign up for ring tones and acquired the data without anybody’s permission. They even had [CTIA President] John Stanton’s number on there – and he couldn’t get his number off.” Strunk sees the business case for his proposition as one that is growing – as many small businesses as well as residential customers have a decreasing need for landline services.
Add to this, the fact that as voice services migrate into the IP world in the next few years, more and more of us will have IP telephony services offering intelligent numbers. This will present interesting challenges and opportunities to the traditional directory business model. As intelligent numbering is essentially agnostic of device, you could have an intelligent number with a VoIP provider and whatever device you use, whether it’s a PC, blackberry, mobile (cell phone), traditional landline, or even your laptop,
you could log in wherever you are in the world. The system recognises the number, so the number goes with the person rather than a device. Strunk is enthusiastic, to say the least: “Well, I think that’s just about the smartest thing since sliced bread. On the downside, if there are multiple numbers for that one person, you might call 118 four or five times. But on the upside, this proposition heightens the requirement to guarantee privacy.”
As Strunk points out, in a context such as the one he found himself in – where both he and his brother where in the same area of Chicago at the same time, this could work well. However, for many online social networkers, not all their ‘friends’ are trusted friends and family. Some young people have literally thousands of contacts online and this widespread dissemination of personal information and location is clearly a threat to privacy. Jeff Strunk agrees, but sees this as an opportunity to extend the ComNote concept: “Privacy is something that has to be enacted by the individual – so people have the option to block out their location, or only make it available to certain individuals.” WDN are now trying to put together a fluid universal system that works seamlessly off the internet and any 411 / 118 call centre. Strunk sees this as enabling consumers to choose different levels of privacy protection – whether it goes to print, online or DA. “So you’ll be able to choose business ComNote. For example, I’m CEO of a company, so I don’t want my number known but want to be contacted. As a complimentary service, our client, Yellow Pages Group in Canada, are launching Canada 411.ca. You’ll be able to search a business listing or residential listing and if there’s a wireless listing you’ll be able to either contact that person if it’s listed or, if it’s privacy protected, you can send them a ComNote directly. “It’s really built around the consumers. What do I want in privacy? How do I want to use privacy? I want to be able to get that number anywhere. If someone goes online and says, ‘now I want to be unpublished because I’ve got this jerk stalking me’, with a couple of clicks, wherever you are in the world, you can change your listing status and it’s immediate, not six months later, like it used to be.”
Alongside the emergence of IP telephony, is the rise and rise of the mobile internet, which again has significant implications for the availability of personal data, especially in relation to online social networking – indeed, one commentator has described the whole phenomena as nothing less than “a stalker’s candy-store”. Facebook’s FindMe application allows consenting opt-in user-groups to see the whereabouts of all the users within that particular group.
Industry commentators, seeing a decline in call volumes to legacy DA providers, may be gloomy, but Strunk doesn’t share their pessimism. Instead of a threat, he sees a great opportunity from the rise of the mobile internet and the proliferation of online social networking. In addition, he has an oversight of both the US and EU markets and has a presence in both. That’s not to say it’s simply a case of onward and upward, says Strunk. He cites the wide variety of European regulatory issues around questions of privacy, and adds:
“There are still some European countries that operate legacy systems, so their inability to charge for a premium SMS restricts where we can operate at the moment. The good news about the US is that we can send a ComNote to someone and the guy who’s called DA is charged $1.50 plus 50 cents to send – so there’s more revenue available here.” “In Spain for instance, you don’t have a system to be able to charge an extra 25 cents to send that SMS out, meaning you have to include the expense of sending the SMS in the call. On the upside, directory call revenue can be generated by how long they’re on the phone whereas in the States it’s a flat fee. So the longer you keep the person on the phone in Europe, the higher the rate of revenue the 118 provider receives. “The 118 providers we’ve been working with have given us a great reception and we won the Global Directory Award from the EDM for the ComNote service – which we’ve now patented in the US and 120 countries world wide. “I think the US does about the same amount of directory calls as Europe does as a whole, so for us, the US is a huge market. Expanding this service to the web and search engines means we are able to generate revenue for the 118 provider from web searches. It opens a whole other avenue to potentially double the revenue and make it easier for carriers and consumers to use.” Similarly Strunk looks at the Canadian example and delivers an optimistic forecast, despite seeing the number of successful search queries going down: “In Canada successful search queries are going down because there are less and less landlines. Yet, there are no wireless numbers listed – which obviously is a big opportunity for us. We’ve been championing this, but it takes all technology providers to champion it, as a whole, to get the EU to move things forward. We need to say ‘look, open your eyes to this, it’s so important to the future of not only your business, but for every online business there is’. ” “Despite the decline in volumes, voice and 118 is never going to go away because it’s a convenience – but it will level off until service providers start adding new contact details like wireless numbers. “In the future, online searches with the capability of being conducted on your phone are going to be the predominant way of doing searches.”
Alive and Kicking:
Who said the game was up for published directories? Liam Cowling interviews Nick Thompson of KCOM. Nick Thompson grew up in Norfolk in the East of England and began his working life as a mechanical engineer before joining the Army and training as a telecoms technician. After he left the Army, he entered the publishing business at John Menzies retail newsagents. “Prior to that I’d always thought you walked into a newsagents, asked for a copy of The Sun and the bloke clicked his fingers and it appeared as if by magic,” remembers Thompson (pictured left). Finding that publishing suited him, after five years working at Menzies, Thompson moved to The Sun’s circulation department and eventually became the newspaper’s deputy marketing manager. Headhunted by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), he worked on The Daily and Sunday Mirror before he was seconded to The Independent in 1994. Leaving MGN in 1996, Thompson worked on a couple of newspaper start-ups, then spent a year as a marketing consultant at the Royal Armouries in Leeds – during which time visitor numbers quadrupled. He joined KCOM in 2004. “It was my first experience of working with directories,” he says, “but in many
ways the directories process is very similar to other kinds of publishing. It’s all about making sure you’ve got the right information.” “In newspapers, it’s about names, dates, times and places, and in directories it’s about names, address, telephones and emails. There are similar principles. And it’s about getting that information right.” KCOM, Kingston Communications publishing arm, was born in 1954 when the company produced the UK’s first classified directory, named Golden Pages. The company was also responsible for the UK’s first full colour directory in 1998, and was the first to offer customers online proofing in 2004. The directories division of KCOM now employs around 55 people at its head office in Hull. There’s a view within the DQ/DA sector that traditional print directories are somehow ‘old fashioned’ and less important than they once were. For example, last year Super Pages in Vancouver published a series of local directories for different districts of the city, meaning that people had to go online or pay for directory assistance for numbers on the other side of the city.
A local newspaper polled its readers and found that seven out of ten of them wanted a comprehensive print directory. When Yellow Pages bought out Super Pages, the first thing they did was to print a single directory for the whole city. “You can be forgiven thinking the whole world is going online,” says Thompson. “The reality is that, whilst there is a move to online, in the UK only about 50 per cent of houses and businesses have broadband connection and access to online directories. “And if you set aside the kind of online elite of media commentators, business people and people in business who have wireless, blackberry, mobile, internet – actually the bulk of UK homes have a broadband connection with one computer wired to it. They don’t have a study in the house, so the computer is in the bedroom or in the living room – and if you’ve got teenage kids they tend to dominate it. “So even for people who have broadband and have online access when they’re in their residential situation, it’s often easier to pick up a directory and look for a number. “That was demonstrated in an online survey we ran in Hull last summer. It said that 81.5 per cent said they used the Hull Colour Pages when looking for local business, and that 63.5 per cent of respondents said they only ever use the Hull Colour Pages when they were looking for products and services. “The majority of directory searches tend to be distress purchases. You know, you’ve got a problem, you need to ring somebody to get it solved. If you look at Hull in the summer of 2007, the first casualty of the floods was the electricity supply, so the directories are actually very practical.” And so you would disagree with the notion that people under 50 don’t use hard copy directories? “We know from our advertisers, who monitor and track calls, and from the way that we interact with end users, that plenty of people under 50 use directories,” replies Thompson. “Some of the categories are slanted towards a young audience and we know from our advertisers they get plenty of calls. “I firmly believe it comes down to distress purchase situations. If you always have a connection and you’ve got wireless in your home and you’ve always got your laptop on, then maybe you can
use an online directory. But the reality is, online directories really don’t have any data structure. “For example, I live just outside Doncaster. I’ve tried a search for plumbers in Doncaster on Google and I got 67,000 returns. There wasn’t a single plumber based in Doncaster on the front page, because all the spots had been purchased by regional or national plumbers trying to get business in that area. So I think that directories have a massive advantage in the structure of the data in that you can actually find what you like within the local area.” Is there any level of revenue decline you can attribute to people migrating online?
KCOM History The KCOM Group has been around for over a century. Key events in the company’s history include: 1882 Invited to bid for telephone licences, only 55 of 1334 UK local authorities expressed an interest. Hull Corporation, part of the City Council, was among them. Just 28 of 600 local businesses declared their enthusiasm, but in 1902 the Council gained its first licence to operate services in the Kingston upon Hull area. 1904 The Hull Telephone Department opened its first exchange at the former Trippett Street Baths.
“Undoubtedly. We have a number of advertisers who are going online with their advertising – predominately national accounts. Every year we get half-a-dozen local advertisers who say they’re going online.
1914 Hull’s bid to renew its licence was made conditional on its purchase of the National Telephone network infrastructure for £192,423. The Council gave the go-ahead, securing the future of the country’s only remaining municipally-owned Corporation.
“The majority of directory searches tend to be distress purchases”
1954 To celebrate its Golden Jubilee, Hull Corporation produced Golden Pages, a Yellow Pages® forerunner printed on gold paper and distributed with a classified business section.
“But each one of those advertisers has come back to the directory the following year because they find that the online channel is currently not a stand alone option, particularly for smaller businesses – that a combination of online and print works best.” As an advertising proposition, what uniquely compelling features do directories have? And how measurable is this to potential advertisers? “We encourage our advertisers to measure responses. We provide them with monitoring pads so they can track leads. Obviously not all advertisers do it, but where they do we find that they are earning an average £25-£26 in new revenue for every pound they spend on advertising with us. We know from businesses across all classifications within the directory that people get responses, and we also know that if people move from a black and white or a mono advertisement to a colour advertisement they see an uplift in responses.” How does the directory fit in with your online and telephone DQ services? “We sell platinum search entries services to advertisers. When a generic classification search is run on our online
1987 The Hull City Telephone Department became Kingston Communications (HULL) PLC, a company in its own right, though still 100% owned by the local Council. 1989 Kingston’s conversion of its network to a digital infrastructure - the first all-digital network in the UK - was completed. 1994 Torch Telecom - a joint venture with Yorkshire Electricity - was launched, offering telecommunications services to businesses across Yorkshire. 1998 Hull Colour Pages - First in the UK to produce a full colour directory. 1999 The Kingston Communications Group was partially floated on the London Stock Exchange, with the City Council retaining its interest with a 44.9 per cent stake. 2004 Hull Colour Pages - First UK directory to offer online proofing facilities 2004 Kingston’s centenary celebrations at the end of 2004 coincided with its acquisition of Omnetica, a data networking company. 2007 The shareholders of Kingston Communications (HULL) PLC voted to change the company name to KCOM Group PLC to more accurately reflect the changing shape and geographic reach of the company and the brands that operate beneath it.
“If I’m an advertiser, say an ordinary plumber, I shouldn’t have to think about whether I want to go in the print directory, the online directory, the mobile directory or the DA directory. We should say to them, ‘this is the solution, wherever we publish our directory, you’ll be there’.” How much importance do you place on Kingston’s interaction with the people who use the directory? “Our distributors are a company called PDC who do directories like Yell and Thomson and BT. When they deliver other directories they tend to leave them on people’s doorsteps. When they deliver for us – and Manx Telecom who we manage production for – we ask them to ascertain whether somebody is in the house or not, and if so, to physically hand it over, so it’s almost like a kind of accepted delivery. “And where we can’t find someone to accept delivery we leave a card that tells them we tried to deliver the directory but no one was in and if they’d like to ring then we’ll go back and deliver the directory for them. “They tell us it’s only in Hull and the Isle of Man where people show any sign of engagement with the directory and any kind of pleasure in receiving it.
directory service Hull Colour Pages online, we set aside the top six positions in each classification for platinum search entry buyers. What we’ve also done is align that to our directory enquiry service, so that if someone calls our 118 288 DQ service and asks for a number of a plumber, those six would come up to the top of the search again.” So you see directories as part of a holistic information services offering? “I think we need to keep innovating with our directories and we need to keep looking for new ways in which we can serve both our advertisers and our end users,” decides Thompson. “But I think it’s more about a directory service than whether it’s print, online or on the telephone. “What we really should be doing to serve our advertisers in the best possible way is selling our advertisers posts in our directory – regardless of what channel it goes across.
“We should be saying, ‘do you want to be in our directory? We’ll make sure your business is promoted across whatever channel we publish that directory‘. “We need to integrate all the different kinds of channels instead of treating them all separately,” he continues.
“I’ve tried a search for plumbers in Doncaster on Google and I got 67,000 returns” “Super Pages in Vancouver organised their directories to work very well for themselves but the problem was they didn’t think about the end users. I think, what we all need to do is think about the end user.
“When I went out for half a day last year,” remembers Thompson, “I was saying ‘hello, here’s your copy of the Hull Colour Pages’ and people were saying, ‘oh thanks I’ve been waiting for this’ or ‘I was thinking this was due‘. I kind of believed they’d set them up to make me think it was a really positive situation. But it was just the kind of feeling we have with our local community. “We try to get each member of staff to give half a day over to the distribution. It helps the staff understand what is the final step in the production of the directory and what they’re working towards all year. “And the money which would normally pay distributors to distribute those copies goes to the Brainwave Therapy programme for a local child who has a rare form of a brain and central nervous system disorder. “It allows us the opportunity to engage with our end users – after all, our brand promise is ‘proud to be a part of local life‘. We really want to get out there and be part of the local community in Hull, and fully engage with the people that use our advertising.”
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At ISM, weâ€™re conscious that the Information Services landscape changes rapidly and that itâ€™s sometimes difficult to see the wood for the trees. So we asked John Manwell, CEO of Optics, to cast some light on managing change, leading your business and fulfilling potential. 32
Leading instead of coping If you are anything like me, you are getting weary of people telling you that you need to get better at managing change. You know the cliché: “Change is here to stay”. It reminds me of my first Managing Director who would tell me on a regular basis that I need to “work smarter, not harder.” In a world of fantastic change and huge amounts of information, it is vital to hold onto principles that don’t change, and to know how to ride the turmoil. It might seem that, the change management specialists and executive coaches are adding to the stress with behavioural models, profiles and yet more commitment of time and money. This short article is intended to give you three key thoughts that might help you in this key area. For those who haven’t even the time to read the whole page – here are the three thoughts: 1. We all need ‘Support and Challenge’ to grow – perhaps with the aid of a ‘critical friend’. 2. Values – knowing what we are about, and why we are doing what we do. 3. Conflict is helpful – when we use it correctly.
Having a Critical Friend Everyone needs support and encouragement. Challenge and correction can only be effectively received from a trusted source. When a relationship is developed with trust and openness it is possible to give encouragement and establish a basis for challenging actions and thinking. At the heart of the coaching process is the principle that the coach comes without his own agenda, makes a conscious effort to identify the positives that the client is missing or minimizing, and being honest with appropriate challenges to stimulate useful change. It is powerful when this kind of relationship exists in the workteam, and organisations should encourage this kind of working.
Knowing our values I am constantly surprised at how few people can verbalise their own values. This means being able to say or write down what we really value, or what ‘makes us tick’. Most people operate with a set of inferred values – what they think are good and acceptable values, rather than what they truly believe. When we really get to the bottom of our beliefs and goals for work,
relationships and life we open up a powerful basis for making choices. Being clear about our purpose releases confidence and enables effective communication. This is why effective organisations publish their values, and why individuals should take time out to explore and define their own personal values.
Conflict as a help Conflict is like money. Handled well, it makes life better; handled badly, it causes misery. That seems easy to say, but how do we handle conflict effectively? The starting place is the revelation that conflict could even be good. Consider these thoughts: Drought causes trees to send roots deeper; customer complaints can generate new products; relationship difficulties teach us about each other; a challenge to personal behaviour can lead to improvement. We can take setbacks as discouragement or as learning experiences. If we will learn from trouble, we will learn a lot. As we ride the white-water rapids of life, we can turn stress into an adventure if we engage critical friends, know what we are about and assess each moment of trouble for its learning points.
Optics was founded by John Manwell who is a professional coach and business mentor based in the North West of England. With a broad experience of telecoms, utilities and financial services business, John works with entrepreneurs, organisations and business leaders in Britain and America. www.optics.ltd.uk www.ismonthly.co.uk
Call Genie’s Mark Temple “The accounts I held at the time included the likes of the BBC and Siemens. Then after three years I moved into product management of the directory enquiries products, getting involved in the marketing and development of directory enquiry products and services.
There can be few people in the Information Services sector who have as broad an experience as Mark Temple (pictured above), Client Solutions Manager for Europe of the Canadian local search and advertising solutions provider, Call Genie. Whether it’s loyalty to the cause, or the Information Services equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome, Temple, the archetypal genial Scot, has spent 20 years in the industry – he has been there, seen it and done it. After a spell as a pub licensee, and reasoning that that it was just another kind of customer service, he joined Cable & Wireless as a directory enquiries operator in Birmingham. Within the space of nine months, he was a team supervisor and managing the team he’d initially joined – a classic case of poacher turned gamekeeper. There followed stints in the emergency services portion of the business and also regulatory roles working alongside OFCOM (the UK’s telecoms regulator) and the Association of Chief Police Officers, as well as educating schoolkids not to abuse the 999 service with prank or malicious calls. Eventually, in order to ensure his upward career trajectory, Temple moved into account management – effectively selling C&W operator services.
“One of my customers was OneTel, part of the Centrica group. They were considering outsourcing to India, to supply directory enquiries services back to the UK and I was asked by the Indian company – InfoVision - to go out and project manage the setup of the new directory enquiry services over there.” As his succession of roles in the industry progressed, Temple believes that his origins as an agent gave him an advantage – he began with a customerfacing role and retained that customercentric perspective. “Without a doubt,” he agrees. “Having started off where I did, in directory enquiries as an operator, gave me a good grounding without which I wouldn’t have moved onto a number of the roles I’ve had since then.” Given that grounding, what does he think of the expectations put on agents and have they evolved since his time in the job? “I don’t think the requirements of an agent have changed too much over the years,” says Temple, “though I think sometimes companies differ in how they deal with agents. It’s like any other industry. There are some good employers and some not so good. The good employers set out their criteria for their agents – as they have done over the years.” So, when you’re managing that team of agents, regardless of the criteria of the individual business, what are the most important considerations? “First and foremost, the business and its agents have to put the customer first. And then the other areas you have to
deal with – such as the number of dips into the database, call handling time – I think they all follow on from that. You need to have a basic understanding of what level of service you’re giving to the customer, because at the end of the day if you haven’t got a customer, you haven’t got a business.” Bearing that in mind, Temple believes that the training of agents is absolutely key to their success on the phonelines. “Certainly telephone manner is important – the way agents address the customer – but also their listening skills are a key part of the job. If the agent has good listening skills, that goes a long way into them handling the calls effectively and efficiently.” A good agent should also have some knowledge of the area they’re serving. When Temple started out at Cable & Wireless, companies like BT had localised call centres for directory enquiries, but over the years things have changed and now the vast majority of directory enquiries companies have centralised their operations. Temple suggests that, given a choice, customers would generally prefer the service to be provided by a local centre, due to their more intimate local knowledge – although he is quick to concede that there isn’t much of a business case for such a service. Indeed, many businesses have now gone beyond mere centralisation and chosen to outsource their operations. Having worked in both the UK and India, Temple has noted significant cultural differences – not just the obvious India versus UK differences, but differences in terms of working culture. Surely this must impact upon training? “Definitely,”says Temple. “I think one of the biggest challenges in the working culture offshore, and certainly in India, is that everything seems to take longer. However, offsetting this, and one of the
advantages of working there, is that all the people I trained had a very high level of academic qualification – so they were either just about to graduate or they had just graduated.” “Also there were the problems posed by cultural differences. Agents there had some initial cultural training, they understood who Prince Charles was, who Prince Philip was, what the Queen did. But we had to rewind that back to the begining and teach the Indian agents the everyday things about life in the UK, like what a fish and chip shop is, what is a pub, what do you do on a Friday night? “Other frequent requests that DQ customers make – like funeral directors or launderettes – proved interesting too, because there’s no equivalent in India.” After returning to the UK, Temple spent some time in performance analysis, quality of service tracking and mystery shopping. He is adamant that the real key performance indicators – the ones that really count, present a significant challenge to QOS monitors. “Over the course of my career I’ve come to think that the most important factor is customer satisfaction. Beyond that, if an agent is trained properly and given the tools to do the job, other things such as
benchmarking, time to answer, and call handle times will fall into place.” However, as the industry moves forward, Temple sees the traditional model of benchmarking applying to a more traditional sort of DQ service rather than that of the emerging world of the mobile internet. “I don’t think benchmarking is totally finished but I think, just like the directory enquiry market as a whole, it faces a serious challenge. Things have moved on into the Information Services world and therefore the requirements for the old established products and ways of working have moved on. “I think benchmarking and quality of service monitoring now needs to evolve – just like Directory Enquiries has evolved into Information Services.” “The industry should have much higher expectations of what can be delivered through benchmarking. If the most important key performance indicator is customer satisfaction, how do you measure that? “This is about issues like how the customer feels the call has been handled, are they satisfied with the information that’s been given and are they satisfied with the value for money of that call? These are qualitative rather quantifiable in the traditional sense.”
MASTERCLASS “Nowadays, customers are looking for more value for money compared to when I first started. When I first started it was name and number, keep the calls as short as you can, but try and retain a good level of service. “Over the years, people have analysed how much they’re paying for something – not only DQ but in other products – and customers tend to judge things now on what are they getting for their money. “Years ago, it was a basic DQ service for a basic price and everyone in the industry dealt with the call in a similar manner for similar sorts of prices. Now people have more sophisticated requirements around value and service.” Temple’s current role is Client Solutions Manager for Europe with Call Genie. It’s an exciting and interesting move for Temple, as Call Genie offer a range of services and their Product Suite includes three product lines: Operator Workstation software, which includes an Open Architecture database and search engine, a Voice Automation service, and a Mobile Advertising solution in the shape of CG Interact, CG Open and CG ADvant.
MASTERCLASS These product lines are designed to provide directory assistance providers, Yellow Pages publishers, wireless carriers and search engine companies with the applications and technology platforms required to deliver innovative mobile local search services. Automated services are a part of the Call Genie package, so in what way does Temple see automation providing a better service to end customers? “I think the Voice Automation Service, branded as CG Interact, that Call Genie offers has a key place in the industry and brings with it numerous advantages. With a configurable dialogue it supports full or partial automated search, silent agent assisted search, live agent assisted search and automated results played to the caller. “The important point is, it has to be applied appropriately, in the right context and as part of a mix of services. We can certainly assist businesses in the Directory Assistance and Yellow Page environment by helping them assess their requirements and helping them to understand the many advantages of deploying automation into their services. “I think what businesses are looking for these days is not just one type of service – they’re looking for value added services. Voice automation should be part of a suite of services they offer to their customers. Provided it’s placed in the right business environment, automation has a major role to play in the future of this industry.” In addition to the work he’s currently involved with at Call Genie, Temple is keenly aware of other types of applications that are emerging. There are, he says, some very impressive propositions out there. Some of the smaller players who have developed these kinds of services have been bought up by the likes of Nuance. Nevertheless, over the past two to three years, there have been some smaller companies out there doing innovative work around speech automation. These kinds of services are not simply enhancing the legacy DQ offerings but are likely to be at the forefront of internet search and will hopefully meet the consumer demand that is driving the development of the mobile internet as an Information Services play.
Expanding on the theme, Temple sees existing online search becoming more sophisticated. He is certain that the “new generation”, as he describes them, will have to tap into the experience of legacy players at some point.
“If you type ‘restaurant in Leamington Spa’ into a typical online directory service, you’re not going to get the best response every time, as the way they aggregate the data isn’t brilliant. “The experience of traditional directory players could be invaluable because of the excellent way they manage data – at the moment, local search online can be a bit like taking a sledgehammer to a nut. I’m sure it will get more sophisticated and I’d expect voice automation to be a major component.” Trying to catch up with Temple can often cause a blip on your phone bill, as he seems to be in a different country almost every week. He sees a lot of different businesses in different territories working in different ways from one and other. Are there any territories where things are being done significantly differently at the moment? Or for that matter, is there anywhere where things are being done significantly better? “I tend to be in different countries a lot of the time, but Call Genie is a global business. Regarding the difference in experience between territories, I think one obvious area is that in Europe on the mobile side, countries such as Sweden have been at the leading edge for the past few years.” “For example, there are a lot more mobile users in Sweden than there are landline users, so therefore they’ve been looking at introducing different information services for a number of years, so it’s certainly worth looking at countries like that. On the other side of the pond you’ve got companies, like Telus in Canada who are always looking to innovate and add more value added services to their product suite.” Looking forward, Temple sees the next few years as being pivotal, with the emergence of the mobile internet and the proliferation of internet based social networking. “Mobile phones are getting more sophisticated. They’re able to do a multitude of different functions and can access almost anything. “Social networking sites will continue to go from strength to strength,” continues Temple. “We’re in a world now where certain demographics, 13 to 25-yearolds, for example, are looking for more
info, not necessarily public information, they want to know what they did/are doing at the weekend and that’s a great medium for them to find out, on a real time basis. “The great challenge is for businesses to try to integrate what they’re trying to say to little communities as well, I guess, because the case for sharing detailed information to a closed group is a very compelling one.” So does Temple think that the mobile internet could ultimately prove to be the Holy Grail for information services? “Well, I certainly see it as a component that will drive the convergence agenda – along with, say, IP TV. The reason I mention that is there are a number of companies out there, that are looking at IP TV, which will be another medium for Information Services.” “Beyond that, as for what I anticipate in terms of evolution for Information Services over the coming years, it’s difficult to predict. “I remember somebody in the media a few years ago saying ‘information is king’ and that’s 100 per cent right. You have to look at what consumers are demanding – different facets of information in a multitude of fields and contexts, and with the easiest possible access.”
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The great outsourcing debate continues: Off-shore or not sure? It’s often been suggested that a compelling DA service that enjoys high levels of customer retention relies largely upon marketing. In short, if you acquire a memorable number, promote your brand energetically and push your proposition (whether that’s a value or a quality proposition), you’ll succeed. So, if you have a business that understands the marketplace and understands the channels by which to deliver your message you should be able to fly, right? Well, no actually – because for all the talk of customer-focused businesses, you need to get the supply side of the equation just as right as the demand side. So why not outsource and get the experts to take care of the service delivery? If only it were so simple… Still, we thought we’d take a look at our options and so went to Gurgaon, south of Delhi in India to speak to Aditya Gupta (pictured below) of Infovision and to Hull in the North East of England, to speak to Steven Cooper, contact centre general manager of KCOM.
Offshore in India ISM: Tell us a little about your processes, how many agents? How many clients? Aditya Gupta: “Where to start? InfoVision has vast experience in running programmes in managing order processing, collections, lead generation, customer services, back-office, email responses, finance and accounting services, data mining, fax, snail mail and other direct marketing across industry for its domestic clients in India as well as its international clients. All told, InfoVision has about 11,500 staff across its various sites in India. These agents manage all InfoVision’s operations and we are currently working with over 50 clients.
experienced management with sufficient expertise to understand the operational dynamics. And, finally they would have to address issues associated with infrastructure and recruitment – both of which can incur significant costs and logistical difficulties.”
ISM: So what would you say are the advantages of outsourcing? AG: “Well, firstly all the aforementioned issues should be taken care of when a business outsources their DQ service. Specifically, if they come to InfoVision, they could expect something in the region of a 30 per cent saving versus a typical UK cost base. In addition, we can provide state of the art technology with all appropriate levels of resilience and redundancy, industry best practices, very high quality of service levels and significant operational efficiencies.”
ISM: How do you compare with the other wholesale DQ centres (performance-wise)?
ISM: For anybody looking to launch a DQ service, what would be the pitfalls of doing it themselves?
AG: “Over the years InfoVision has built expertise and processes to align itself with the best directory enquiry service providers. We have been consistently delivering high quality service across all key parameters such as accuracy, communication and response times.
AG: “In the first instance, a DQ provider would have to consider building a comprehensive training plan – the planning and implementation of which can be fraught with difficulty. In addition, they would need significantly
“One of the directory enquiries services that we handle here scored top for operator accuracy in an independent study carried out by the Paisley Group, with a total of 99.7 per cent.”
FEATURE ISM: Where do you source your data from? How frequently is it cleaned? AG: “Like the majority of other DQ providers, here at InfoVision we use industry standard OSIS data which is maintained and updated by LSSi on an ongoing basis.”
ISM: What value-added services can you offer your clients? AG: “We can offer a range of value added services. We have the capability to offer enhanced features such as SMS, call connect, personalised or automated number handoff, driving directions, cinema listings – the list goes on. “If the information is available we can provide it!”
ISM: You must see some clients that maintain their call volumes, whilst others drop off? What’s the key to retention for them? AG: “Well, our operational mechanics allow our clients to share resources and that allows them to offer a quality service at a reasonable cost – and that’s the case even if their call volumes are low. When they are incurring lower operational costs, our clients can focus their efforts on creating greater visibility and awareness of their service.”
ISM: What is Infovision doing to stay ahead of other wholesale DQ players? AG: “We have a comprehensive recruitment and training programme, which involves a combination of classroom and hands-on exercises
covering geography, culture and lifestyle, dialects and virtual walk-throughs. These all enable greater understanding and involvement for the agents during the training programme. We have what we call 360º knowledge management, where we share all new knowledge - and that helps us build a structured automated interactive quiz methodology to evaluate understanding and test the knowledge levels of individual agents. “In addition, we constantly monitor and we have stringent quality assurance processes in place. On the rare occasion that an appropriate level of service isn’t achieved, we have a documented complaint management process with a close looping feedback mechanism.”
ISM: How do you motivate and retain your agents?
AG: “At InfoVision, we have an extensive engagement and retention strategy to ensure that our agents are motivated. So we have a programme of regular activities which include oneto-one sessions between agents and line managers, skip level meetings, offsite refresher sessions, personality development programs, a range of team building exercises, as well as parties and the celebration of festival days.”
ISM: How do you instil the values of your clients in your agents? After all they represent the public facing portion of your clientss’ businesses. AG: “When new people join the business, there is an induction period and our agents undergo an in-depth client orientation programme wherein they are briefed about the history, culture, the brand and code of practise of our clients. “The branding and standards followed on the floor here are in line with the client’s standards – so for example, if you walk into an InfoVision DQ centre, you’ll see, the same branding in there as you would in the client’s office in the UK. “In addition, we organise regular interactions with the client – in the form of communications and forums etc – and that helps the agents to closely associate themselves with the client.”
ISM: In what ways is this audited? AG: “We run regular agent absorption tests – and they are conducted to ensure that the agents are updated on an ongoing basis.”
FEATURE on another account. We see what the experience is like and we’ll monitor that in two ways – what the speed was like, because consumers are quite demanding with the quick service level provided, and also the accuracy. A third dimension which we look at is how helpful the agent was. It’s a little bit more subjective.”
Onshore in the UK ISM: In terms of wholesale, how many agents are working here in Hull and how many clients are outsourced to you at the moment? Steven Cooper (pictured right): “About 150 – subject to demand. We have to have the right amount of resources in place to cope with demand, which fluctuates. When clients advertise, call volumes go up and we have to live with that so the number of agents is subject to change. There are between 40 and 50 different 118 numbers hosted here.”
ISM: If I was considering launching my own 118 service, what would be the key to success? SC: “It’s all about marketing and number memorability – most people in the UK would recognise 118 118. Where other people have had similar success, it’s been about the creation of a brand. Less successful businesses tend to focus more on pricing and features.”
ISM: As a new entrant, what would be the benefits of outsourcing? SC: “It’s quite simple really. If you’re going to create a brand proposition – a significant challenge in itself – we’ll take away all the other distractions. We host the number and we provide you with the people. We know exactly how to recruit in terms of social profile and skills and we deliver great training, so we’ll get people on the phones very, very quickly. A directory call takes between 20 and 40 seconds – sounds quite a long time. I’ve tried it and the listening skills required are immense. “Mobile-originated calls can be quite inaudible and to acquire the information requires both the location and the requested business. You do a database search, sift the search and come back to the person with the info they’re looking for within 40 seconds. Outsourcing should see all these issues addressed.”
ISM: In terms of the number of dips made into the database, your agents will have a target – is that a cost that you pass on or do your clients get a flat wholesale price? SC: “If it takes 10 dips because our advisor was inefficient, we’d bear the cost. Hopefully our advisor is very efficient, so we reap the benefit. In
ISM: That must be difficult to quantify.
some cases we may charge for things like SMS which are unrecoverable. An outsourcer needs to decide whether the marketing value of confirming two mobile-originated calls by SMS is going to cover the cost of that SMS. That’s one of the only variables.”
ISM: In some telecoms contexts, re-sellers will approach the supplier business and say ‘we’re reselling your goods and services under our brand, will you offer us marketing support?’ Is that something you’re able to offer to your partners? SC: “Not particularly. We tend to focus on the Information Services provision. There are areas of advertising knowledge that we can share, but on this side of the business we are focused on being as good a DQ contact centre as possible. What we do try to do though, is live the customer’s brand. We make it transparent – ie as invisible as possible that they are an outsourcer. “Hopefully we’ve got across during the skill training, the manner in which you need to handle those calls. It’s important that we’ve got the brand messages, we’ve got the culture of the client’s business trained into the agents so that they deliver in the right way.”
SC: “It is. But we try and do it through looking at intonation and greetings. So, all of our advisors are subject to a score card which is done by either their team manager or ops guys. We are looking to make sure we are aware of how that person does their job and that they do it well. We do try to stay on top of that for all accounts, but DQ is particularly important given that customer experience relates directly to retention.”
ISM: What are you doing to stay ahead of other DA wholesalers? SC: “Well, to be honest with you, the wholesale marketplace is quite narrow. We offer a price advantage. However, we’re also a carrier so we can host the number as well, which means we can take the headache away. If you are a DQ number owner, if you come to us we will solve your technology problems. “We’ll handle all your calls. The beauty of it is you get an out-payment from your network provider because it’s a premium rate service and you get a charge from your call centre for the provision of the people answering the calls. “The beauty of coming to KCOM is we can do both aspects of that for you. So we do literally net off the out-payment versus the call centre charges.”
ISM: Do you do anything in terms of bench-marking? How do you look at performance and how do you compare with other wholesale DQ providers?
ISM: Key to delivering all this is the agent. How do you motivate and retain your people? They are ultimately the interface between, not so much your business, but someone else’s business and their customers, so how do you instill in them the values of these partner businesses? How does this process relate to motivation and retention?
SC: “We compare quite well. We do a lot of mystery shopping because we are a big call centre in other areas, not just DQ – we also have a multitude of accounts doing outbound and technical support. We use idle time on a particular account to make mystery shopper calls
SC: “You’ve touched on a very, very interesting subject. There are definite communities in outsourced contact centres – the organisation, the outsourcer, the consumer and the agent. Our service delivers cost reduction, but equally if those four communities
are pulling in the same direction – say they want a slightly shorter call, for argument’s sake - if they can get all four communities on the same page, then generally you’ve got a good chance of succeeding. If one of them doesn’t want a shorter call, then how do you satisfy the needs of all four? “It’s very important you understand what the consumer proposition is and apply it, so that then we can work out how to train our advisors to appropriately deal with those calls.”
ISM: Besides training, recruitment must be a major consideration. Have you outsourced that or do you have an internal resource? SC: “A bit of both. In this business you cover all bases. We always have direct employees, agency, temps, perms, parttime and full-time. You need a blend to cope with the changes in demand across the whole business. We want to attract the right sort of people then hopefully we develop their capability, as it will take about three months to train someone up to the optimum level of skill. They learn shortcuts to doing things,
to get to know the common call types. There’s a whole range of things we do to motivate staff and we keep changing it all the time – that’s how you keep these things fresh. “We have motivation and incentive schemes for people who achieve a certain level of customer satisfaction, defined by the number of calls handled in an hour, or their accuracy level being above 99.5 per cent. “Amongst our agents working on the Maureen brand there’s a competition – they may not get a huge material reward, but it’s about recognition. “So we have ‘Maureen of the Week’, and on the floor we’ve got both men
and women. The award tends to be around who’s gone that extra mile to sort something out. It could be a bizarre call from a little old lady who’s confused and someone’s managed to unscramble it and get them in touch with someone who can help. “And, people genuinely do compete. If they’re competing, they’re trying to improve themselves, which is good for business, it’s good for them to develop skills – and it’s good for the consumer because they get the service they want. “And, in this business it’s all about repeat calls. If they have a good experience, they’ll call you back. If they have bad experience, they won’t call you back.”
Design for life? reality. One company who are leading the field in innovative mobile internet design is Worcestershire-based Wapple, with a client base which includes Sonopia, MTV and MyThum. “In the last few years mobile phones have transformed from voice and text devices into web-browsing beasts with larger colour displays, enhanced web-browsing technologies and storage capacity that was previously reserved for high-end MP3 devices,” says Wapple CTO Rich Holdsworth.
By getting design right first time, Information Services players can reap the benefits of the mobile internet. Wapple CTO Rich Holdsworth (pictured above) talks to ISM about the challenges of this brave new world.
“While the possibilities offered in this brave new world of the mobile internet are extremely exciting, the challenges presented are tenfold, particularly when it comes to Information Services. If you thought that designing for a few PC browsers was tricky, imagine the challenge of building a site that will work across every single mobile device, as well as allowing users quick and easy access to information on the move.
The mobile internet could be the holy grail for Information Services – providing the sector with an access technology that surpasses everything that came before it. By the end of 2008, analysts forecast there will be one billion PC users, of which 700million will be connected to the internet. Meanwhile, there will be 3.2billion mobile users, of which 1.2billion have access to the internet. For every one PC user, you can reach two mobile users on the internet.
“With thousands of different devices already in use around the world and 40 to 50 new ones appearing every month with their own screen formats, capabilities and technical quirks, it is a major problem.
This fundamental shift in internet usage will change the way businesses view mobile and the way consumers are accessing Information Services. Compared to the PC web, the mobile web has broader reach, it is always accessible and it connects to people rather than computers.
“Mobile devices simply do not have the precise mark-up capabilities that we are accustomed to with the PC internet. Fonts render in unique ways, layout is handled differently between handsets, and mobile networks will often repurpose graphics to squeeze them across the network. “With the technology side sorted, the next consideration has to be site design. And it has to be specific to the needs of a mobile user.
Given the opportunity it would be remiss for Information Service providers to ‘fall at the first’ by not embracing the new
“First of all, a designer must accept the fact that any site design will look different across the wide range of handsets that are on the market – and browser capabilities will vary.
“While PC users enjoy the comfort of their large 19-inch monitors and pointer devices – allowing them to leisurely explore a site with high connection speeds – mobile users will often be browsing in a limited time window, perhaps until the train arrives, on the bus or on foot to find specific information such as the location or opening time of a store. “On mobile, it’s essential to provide users with the information they need immediately. The far slower connection speeds dictate this and users will simply give up if they cannot easily and quickly find what they are looking for. Navigation must be clear and simple, searching should be kept to a minimum and results must always be concise and entirely relevant. “Think about the user experience, not only from a look and feel perspective, but from the point of view that ‘content is king’. Does the quality of the experience and content that your site offers merit a wealth of pages, or can you effectively communicate the message in a few choice paragraphs? There is no hard and fast rule here and your decisions should be based solely on the site in hand. “As ugly and out-dated as it seems on the web, vertical navigation is essential on mobile devices. Tabs are nice, but frankly they just don’t stand up when considering multiple target devices. Too many menus on a single page will baffle users and too few often mean that the site is deeply nested and therefore slower to traverse. Sites should be kept shallow with plenty of sideways linking. Perhaps most importantly of all, links should be short but descriptive. And text. Yes, text. “Graphical links might look nice on an N95, but on other devices with lower resolution screens they can easily become unreadable.
“Don’t be scared by graphics, though. Just use them only where necessary and text where possible. The great thing about mobiles is that you can pretty much guarantee that if a device supports graphics then it will support gifs. So, for that flat colour corporate logo, gif is the file format of choice. For photographic images then of course use jpg but take time to balance the image compression so that pages still load in a timely fashion. “Thankfully, mobile phone screens are very forgiving – just like your digital camera, where the picture looked great on the two-inch screen but awful on your PC screen!”
MOBILE INTERNET The mobile internet is still in its infancy when it comes to Information Services. But when you consider there are already many more mobile phones in use today than PCs, it offers a tremendous opportunity to businesses that can get it right. Here, Wapple CTO Rich Holdsworth offers advice on how to do it right:
Top Ten Tips 1. It has to work on all devices. “This is the biggest problem facing anyone looking to build a mobile internet site at the moment. It’s more difficult than covering the inconsistencies in a few web browsers – there are literally thousands of devices out there with all kinds of quirks and capabilities.
4. A WAP site is not a web site “When we sit in front of a web page, most of us will be viewing on a large screen, using a full keyboard and armed with a mouse. “On a mobile device things are a little more limited. The screen is smaller, the page is vertically stacked and scrolling top to bottom can take what seems like a lifetime.
“It would be ideal if you could make a site and know that it was going to look exactly the same no matter what handset was being used to view it. The fact is, with so many different screen sizes, font sizes, rendering quirks, markup capabilities and bugs out there, it is simply not possible to create an entirely consistent look.
“So, ensure that your content is bitesized and easily navigable. Don’t fill a page with useless links. Group common features and functions together.”
“So, if your site renders differently on a Razr compared to a W800i, don’t sweat it. Chances are your end-user with his Razr will not know any different.”
5. Balance form and function “It is great to build a mobile site stacked full of well-designed graphics, rich text and widgets. But it can take a long time to squeeze down to a handset. “It is essential to balance the amount of graphics and their quality with the desired speed to download. “It is true that good content is worth downloading but users will not be happy if you add three seconds to every page load just to have a cool banner.”
6. Go beyond wallpapers, ringtones and java games “You might be targeting a certain demographic that all have high-end handsets but it would be foolish to allow your site to fail on an older device.”
2. White screens, black text and blue links are so 1998 “A technically inferior mobile site stands out like a sore thumb. So strive to design in a colour scheme that actually reflects the message of the site you’re creating.”
3. It has got to be personal “Mobile users are accessing your site on a device that is primarily designed for two-way communication. So why not continue this on your mobile site? Put simply, users will respond positively and return to your site more frequently if they feel that there are real people behind it. Present regular updates, request and respond to feedback, involve users in the evolution of your site.”
7. Do not expect the same results across every device
“If white screens, black text and blue links really are so 1998, then simply ticking the content boxes and nothing more is very 2005. There is now so much more that can be achieved with mobile sites. Those that have not bothered are beginning to fall by the wayside. “Interactive services, dynamic content, profiling, feedback, data acquisition, database integration, information revelations, discoverable content, user awards, the list goes on and on.”
8. Test Test Test “Then test some more. It is important to stay on top of all of the new devices. Or you could invest in a platform that takes care of new devices for you.”
9. Deliver dynamically “Hard-coded sites just do not cut it. To stand half a chance of achieving the above rules across multiple devices, dynamic sites are the only way to go. This will mean adapting graphics, choosing which mark-up to deliver, working around known device issues, and so forth.”
10. Make it worthwhile “From the outset, users will have invested a significant amount of energy just finding your site, by texting in or by entering a thumb-blistering URL. “If your site does not impress – or at least entice – from the homepage, users tend to switch off straight away. So make this count most of all.” Rich Holdsworth is CTO of Wapple.net, a UK company that develops tools for creating mobile internet sites that repurpose to any mobile browser. He has worked in mobile internet for five years and has a background in video game design and production.
We asked ISMâ€™s US contributing editor, Susan Campbell (pictured right), to gaze into the crystal ball to tell us about emerging trends in Information Services and how she imagines the IS landscape will look in five yearsâ€Ś Information Services has evolved considerably over the past 131 years since the first operator-assisted phone call took place. Whilst we once relied on the telephone operator to help us make an initial connection with a neighbour not even three blocks away, we can now look to IS for information about the nearest nightclub or restarant. And as consumers, we can find like minded individuals arouund the world by simply entering a social networking website. What has been evolving in the area of IS in recent months has been the availability of information via web browsing on a mobile handset. While this technology has been in development for quite some time, it is only just recently that it has become available to the masses on smartphone devices that can handle the complexity of operation. Such capability is exploding on the market with automation and speechenabled technology and is focusing in on key areas such as free and nicheoriented services.
Social networking may produce the most obvious changes as consumers and business professionals have already learned the basics of these systems and will be hoping to leverage the technology for business advancement. This dynamic change in demand will drive new strategies in marketing and advertising as the end goal becomes more focused on advancing business initiatives instead of social interactions.
While automation has not been without evolution, changes in this area could be considered the least apparent, yet can cause some of the biggest challenges for those providing information services to the public. Because IS providers house so much information on businesses and information, their automated systems must be carefully monitored to ensure full compliance with industry regulations.
These developments in IS have been driven heavily by emerging technologies. Improvements in browser capabilities on mobile devices will contribute greatly to the use of IS in a mobile capacity. When tied in with innovative GPS systems, consumers now have access to a world of information at their fingertips. While this growth is also attributed to consumer demand, the real question is: where is the IS industry going and where will we be in the next five years?
Automation is one term that has garnered much favour for the past century. It has made our lives easier, allowed us to redirect our resources in production and has streamlined processes throughout industry. For IS, it has helped to simplify the process of gathering information and dispersing it as needed. We have come to rely on automation so much that we hardly remember to notice the innovation that it provides.
In the area of IS, automation can almost be seen as counter-productive. When used in a social networking context, for example, automation seems to acquire the personality of spam as users are provided with more links than they need â€“ many leading to completely irrelevant data. Sure, businesses can benefit from the SEO advantage of driving traffic to those links, but the danger here is that users will soon be immune to the draw of those links and new methods will have to be developed.
The reality is that automation will continue to play a key role as technologies advance and are used to continue to drive adoption and revenue opportunities. The increase in automation will change the dynamics of other areas of IS, such as free services and speech-enabled technologies. With this growth in automation, the focus will be on personalisation to try and draw customisation from automation.
Personalisation Personalisation is an element of significant focus, not just in Information Services, but in a wide range of industries. As consumers, we prefer to use systems and services that are specifically designed to our tastes, preferences and desires. The more personalised a service can be, the more value it can present to the consumer, thereby driving a higher price point and increased revenues for the provider. This is also an area where providers have a lot of flexibility as personalisation does not have to be based on individual user behaviour, but instead can be tailored for a predefined audience. In taking such an approach, the provider has more control over the delivery of content as well as reaching its intended audience. The distinction between these two different forms of personalisation will gain in importance in the next five years.
Masoud Loghmani, CEO of BleuRider and a thought-leader in local search and mobile Information Services, views implicit personalisation as having much more impact over the next few years. “More effective data mining and consumer behavior categorisation techniques allow service providers to better track, categorise, and even forecast user’s search request,” he says. “As a result, depending on the past behaviour, time of call, day of week, and the activities observed in the ‘people like you’ group, DA and YP service providers will be better at narrowing down, and in some cases predicting, the range of possibilities that users will be asking for even before they complete a query.” One of the biggest areas of opportunity for personalisation will be for business users seeking to exploit the value of social networking. As these sites have gained in popularity, they have failed to really capture and maximise the full benefit of business applications. Instead, sites like MySpace and Facebook have served as more training ground for users to understand and become acclimated to the social networking side of IS. Virtually none of these sites have produced optimal business potential, especially for those operating in the SMB sector.
stages of focus: Mass-adoption mobile PDA terminals, winners emerging and location disappearing. The market will experience a widespread emergence of multi-function mobile devices that will increase the target market population for data applications. Location-based services and applications are in abundance, yet no clear winner has emerged. “In five years, winners in various categories will emerge,” says Loghmani. “These winners will deliver innovative services that take advantage of the intuitive user interface offered on advanced mobile devices, combined with natural work-flows that tie a user’s online presence and activities to their mobile use.” In the long term, while Loghmani feels that location is an essential part of human activity, “to have services based around location will be meaningless in the future. All services will take ‘location’ into account.”
Niche-oriented services Niche-oriented services have been exploding onto the scene in the past few years as providers try to find a core target audience which will prefer their service above all others – be that on grounds of
Location-based services Perhaps the area primed for the biggest growth is that of location-based services. According to Gartner in its LocationBased Services Subscriber and Revenue Forecast Report, worldwide subscribers to mobile location-based services are set to grow by 168 per cent in 2008. They project that numbers of global subscribers will jump from 16million in 2007 to 300million by 2011.
Those operating in the IS industry stand to gain a tremendous competitive advantage when their offerings include accurate location-based services. Location awareness adds tremendous value to data-centric applications. Consider the E911 initiative in North America and E112 in Europe, where location provides the essential information to reach a person needing help. Incorporated into mobile devices, location awareness can advance the initiatives of the IS industry, helping to drive both niche-oriented and free services. The most obvious obstacle is the requirement of the user’s consent to be tracked.
ethnicity, age, sexual preference or subcultural orientation. This approach to the market is a strategic one in that a provider can easily grab significant market share if the offering is positioned correctly. Niche services could be considered more of a risk as they potentially limit the reach of the service.
When asked about the future of locationbased services, Loghmani points to three
As a stark contrast to consolidation, niche services work against the consumer desire for simplicity, yet
open-ended customisation helps to drive adoption. Consumers will not use a social networking site or directory assistance simply for the sake of using it. The experience has to offer something to the consumer, to not only draw their initial attention, but to also give them a reason to return. As so many of these services are sustained on advertising revenue, niche-oriented services provide advertisers an opportunity to customise their message and thereby make it much more effective. Providers catering to niche markets will begin to see consumers demanding more customisation in their niche offerings. In other words, it is not enough that the provider cater to one minority group. These niche providers will have to get more specific in their key offerings in order to appeal to a predefined customer.
We are likely to see fierce competition to be first to market, because once consumers have settled on a service, it is difficult to lure them onto other offerings without a proven and tangible benefit. While consolidation is highly unlikely among niche-oriented services as such a platform fails to support sustainability, we will instead see increased inter-operability. With the emergence and advancement of web 2.0 solutions, collaboration and openended development propels third-party interaction. Such inter-operability also allows for further customisation, driving personalisation in niche-oriented services and creating a more powerful value proposition for those players.
Speech-enabled directory assistance will experience higher rates of automation which, in itself, will change the economies of DA automation. According to Masoud Loghmani, “Change in economies of DA automation, combined with attempts at tying a user’s online explicit activities with their mobile DA or YP search activities, will result in spreading the reach of free, speech
Free services One of the biggest and most obvious dynamics within the IS sector is that of free versus fee information services. While information has long been a significant revenue-generating industry, the proliferation of the internet and the volume of information available for free has changed that dynamic. Realistically speaking, at first launch, free services were perceived as being less valuable information offerings than that of fee-based services. The old maxim that ‘you get what you pay for’ seemed to follow these services into the marketplace. Such perceptions were quickly put aside as free services proved to be easily as valuable as those offered for a fee – and even presented considerable competition. The challenge that these providers will face over the next few years is to continue to drive effective advertising through their channels. Consumers have a long history of demanding more for less and will likely lose tolerance for forced advertising in exchange for free services. To combat this trend, commercial corporations will be exploring new marketing tactics while free services redesign their business models to sustain revenue streams. There is potential for these free services to go the way of Salesforce.com and its AppExchange, or the recently announced Google Enterprise Solutions Gallery, where applications are offered to consumers both free and at cost depending upon the application. The availability of information on-demand is key in Information Services and providers must be able to accommodate this or face becoming irrelevant. Increased focus on personalisation is also expected to impact free services.
enabled-DA as part of a bigger umbrella of services where DA (or YP/category search) will be only one of many Information Services offerings. “Free-DA and free speech-enabled category search technologies will be affordable for niche players, combining knowledge of user’s activities with the user’s explicit information search activities, thus offering highly personalised, and occasionally context sensitive, service offerings.”
New expansions With the strong anticipated growth in IS, there will be new technologies emerging, new consumer trends and new ways to handle information. Data will be a key focus for companies competing in this space. The more detailed data that a provider owns, the more specific their offerings will be to each unique user. They will also be able to get their service to market faster than the competition, thereby grabbing more of the share at first launch. The use of eye gaze patterns and viewing trends as captured by user eye habits has already begun to emerge in the market. Psychological and physiological studies reveal the habits of the eye and our tendency to look at information in certain patterns – this will ultimately capture our cognitive reactions to information. Although promising, there is still significant research and development that must be conducted to bring this technology to a level that the consumer will accept. Speech technology has evolved significantly over the past ten years. Applications are now available that
can interpret specific dialects, speech patterns and foreign language accents. The application for advanced speech technology in the information services space is virtually endless. As consumers continue to become more mobile, speech integration with mobile browsing will be in heavy demand. Technologies will be available to provide full speech-enabled browsing and information gathering on all mobile devices. Open standards will also continue to gain traction over the next five years. Although the concept was originally fought by such giants as Microsoft and Sony, both companies have made strategic moves toward open standards accessibility. Many of the world’s conglomerates will be making more applications available via open standards to push adoption and extend their brand. For the IS sector, this means extended access to increased capabilities that can help drive the industry to meet growing consumer demands. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another area where we will see emerge more in this space. Individuals throughout the industrialised world rely on AI to make better use of information and work smarter, not harder. Over the next five years, we will see significant amounts of time and other resources invested in AI by a range of companies in the Information Services field. In collecting information from users, the focus will shift very firmly from the ‘what’ to the ‘why’. “By focusing only the ‘what’, all service providers today lose the bigger context ‘why’ and in doing so, not only do they fail in delivering a more relevant set of results for their users, they also lose a fantastic opportunity for increasing revenue opportunities in each search query,” says Loghmani. “We will start to witness intelligent Information Services that deliver highly context-sensitive intent-oriented search services by taking into account a user’s web-based social context and information that it offers when handling a user’s search queries (including DA/YP queries). DA and YP services will be part of the umbrella of services offered by these players.” While a jump forward in time to experience these advances in IS now is intriguing, there is significant promise in the process and progress that will take us there. Changes in technology are inevitable and advances may happen more quickly than anticipated. Whatever the final outcome, the IS future is one that is full of opportunity.
Felix Schupp of Softmethod is just back from having been the host of this Springâ€™s EIDQ plenary in picturesque Dubrovnik, Croatia. Here he shares his views on the event with ISM.
EIDQ in Dubrovnik... This year’s EIDQ Spring Plenary took place in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik in the far South of Croatia from 28th 30th April. More than 90 attendees from around the globe showed strong interest in mobile search, the central theme of the plenary. Hosted by German based SoftMethod Gmbh, the meeting took place in the beautifully renovated and ideally located Hilton Imperial Hotel, just a few hundred metres outside the ancient city fortification.
Mobile search poses one of the greatest challenges to traditional directory assistance. While the percentage of calls to operator based directory assistance services from mobile devices increases
steadily, the overall market is also scaling back continuously. As more devices allow web browsing, and mobile data rate plans come down in price, monetising on mobile search becomes a crucial element in any directory assistance service offering. The availability of open mobile platforms, among them the Apple iPhone and Google’s Android, allows the creation of specially tailored solutions enabling a greatly improved user experience. As of today, most of these offerings are in the very early stages of development, but progress is visible and presentations at the plenary received much attention from the audience. Among the companies presenting were Yahoo! and Teleatlas, in addition to several EIDQ members presenting innovative services and ways of reaching out to mobile users. The potential of virtual dialogue agents with artificial intelligence was also showcased, narrowing the gap between humanmachine interaction and live operator based services.
The EIDQ attendees also received updates on several free DA services, another area of business with major future growth potential. While these services are common in the US and have major players such as Google and Jingle Networks, free services still represent a largely untapped market in Europe. Contributions showing synergy potential between directory assistance and online identity management as well as IPTelevision rounded off the event. In more formal matters the EIDQ members approved a change in the organisation’s mission statement, addressing the future scope of the EIDQ beyond simple directory assistance, and a proposal for greater cooperation between EIDQ and EADP also received broad consensus. Both the business strategy and E.115 working groups presented progress reports and future funding was approved. It was noted that the first E.115 2007 compliant services commenced operation in the past six months, proving that the efforts put behind the standardisation process of the protocol have been worthwhile. The EIDQ also welcomed two new members, Eniro Finland and Telekomunikacja Polska, bringing the total membership count to 48. The next EIDQ Plenary will take place in Malta in October 2008 and will be kindly hosted by CallGenie Inc. For more information about the EIDQ and upcoming events, visit the organisation’s website at http://www.eidq.orgUK was completed.
Location Location Location Historically, DQ providers only had a vague idea of the location of the customer, either through information provided by the customer in the form of postcode, or by proximity to a single base station by measuring signal strength. The next generation of mobiles and PDAs, with their in-built A-GPS chip, give a much more precise and accurate position, allowing DQ providers to tailor the information they offer to customers. Every time a mobile user makes a call, their handset connects to a transmitter. The phone automatically locks on to the strongest signal. But other base stations will also register the phone and an exact position is easy to triangulate from there. It’s long been recognised that the DQ industry is about more than a simple exchange of information. Inquirers are looking to spend money and DQ providers are in the unique position of being able to point them in any number of different directions to do that. Location-based services are increasingly recognised as a uniquely effective marketing tool. Location based services offer a range of unique features, from automated and operator-assisted basic directories assistance at their most basic to enhanced business-finder and information services as well as highly sophisticated image-based locationbased services for mobile users with GPS capability. ABI Research estimates that global LBS revenue was $515million during 2007 and could reach $13.3billion by 2013. Quality, outsourcing and packaging and above all, especially in the UK, pricing are all gaining in significance.
In the early 90s, BT Cellnet, with 192 and the Yellow Pages, offered a search based on customer location but unfortunately, the limits of the mobile network CellID network as a reliable and accurate locator meant that service was often a little clunky - and expensive. The primary reason why the UK has so few existing LBS applications is because of price, with the average wholesale price of a ‘single’ location query often costing around 25 pence a time. LBS providers have to make that back from the customer, which in effect means a single location query can cost up to £1 in the UK. There either has to be a fundamental change in the pricing structure or the handsets have to work based on an embedded GPS device. The big players of the DQ marketplace haven’t been blind to the possibilities offered by location-based services. Yell.com offers full colour mobile access to Yellow Pages listings, searchable by businesses name or company type, as well as free listings. Maps and directions are also available, for a small pay-asyou-go fee. However, you need to text a magic number to Yell, then download a Java applet to your device before you‘re able to use this service. Telegate Italia operators can already search SEAT’s existing Pronto Pagine Gialle database to offer yellow pages LBS services. Using VoltDelta’s OASIS InfoExpress, enhanced directory services search system. This new database includes around 25m Italian telephone listings, provides sub-second response times and supports SMS messaging of
Location-based services represent a convergence of technological innovation and the requirements of mobile users and the result is potentially as explosive a sales opportunity as the emergence of home broadband was five or six years ago. In the first in a series of articles, Sean Smith argues that the DQ/DA industry is particularly well placed to capitalise on the locationbased services bonanza.
listing information, SMS Dictation and call completion. Nokia plans to provide free maps and local searches and charge users extra for city guides and navigational services. Such services will cost C89 a year, or C9.99 a month for spoken word turnby-turn navigation, while guides from partners will cost around C10 for a one-off purchase. The company are also working with Cable & Wireless on a “truly global, mobile Internet platform” and an important part of this involves LBS. “Clearly, the DA/DQ arena is undergoing a metamorphosis from a no-frills basic enquiry service for phone numbers to an information-oriented service that piggy-backs on sophisticated mobile technologies, says The Pelorus group senior consultant Saroja Girishankar. “The eventual success of the new business model will be years in the making, but it is a model that allows for multiple streams of revenues to be generated from one set of core directory database, systems and marketing assets. DA/DQ as we know it is being re-invented.” In Australia, Sensis, the local advertising and commercial search business has just teamed up with Webraska. Sensis’s premium search 1234 operators with access to the extensive Whereis mapping database providing callers with directions and proximity searches, giving live spoken turn-by-turn instructions or delivering the information via SMS. Greg Ellis, general manager says: “If a caller wants a straight call connection, our operators will meet this request.
If the caller wants the names of all restaurants in a particular location that specialise in Italian cuisine, that are opened on a Sunday evening and that take credit cards, our operators will meet this request where we have the information available”. Microsoft’s Tellme, Yahoo’s OneSearch, and offerings by smaller companies such as ChaCha allow customers to speak (rather than type) search terms, speech-to-text technology then turns the digitised audio into text for searches based on the handset’s location information. A number of innovative information location-based services are beginning to appear. CRUMPET (Creation of User-friendly Mobile Services Personalised for Tourism) project provides integrated location-based information services to tourists. KOKONO enables users to find Web documents based on the distance between locations that are described in Web documents and a user-specified location. Socialight, a London-based community platform, combines information from Time Out with usergenerated content through GPS-tagged ‘sticky notes’ and has just launched a service which offers informed, locallygenerated content, direct to your phone. Location Based Services also have a part to play in the social networking phenomena, typified by sites like Facebook and Bebo.
Clearly, there are huge civil liberties and personal safety issues involved in the divergence of GPS positioning and mobile identity but, the theory goes, younger consumers have less reticence than their parents about such informational transparency. All such initiatives are very firmly weighted towards opting in rather than out.
become ‘invisible’ if you’d rather not be ‘sniffed’ out.’”
US mobile virtual network operator Boost Mobile has just launched a friend-finder application called Boost Loopt - tagged with the hip hop-culture tagline of ‘Where you at?’ - which allows users to see themselves and their friends in real time on a GPS generated map. Boost say their Loopt trial yielded some 40,000 users.
When you combine those kind of numbers with those of the RIM and Thomson Reuters BlackBerry $150million venture capital fund and Apple’s $100m iFund, both dedicated to funding mobile applications and services - many of which are based around location-based services - it becomes clear that this is only the beginning.
Helios’ Buddy Beacon provides a similar service, while in Europe, Jamba‘s Partner Tracker is packaged as an extended data service with a limited number of search requests for C4.99 per week. Useful Networks new mobile and Facebook-integrated Sniff (Social Network Integrated Friend Finder) initiative has already proved to be extremely popular in Sweden (80,000 users) and is launching in the UK, with US expansion next. “There is inherent value in allowing your close friends and family to know where you are, but only when you want them to,” says Useful Networks CEO Brian Levin. “Friends can now ‘sniff’ each other out easily and quickly – that is, if they want to be found. You can easily
It’s worth noting that the UK has the largest and most engaged Facebook population in the world with over 8.5million users. Sniff will be available through four of the largest UK carriers – covering over 65million subscribers.
The possibilities are endless. Sony Ericsson recently announced that they are developing a location-based music search, which allows users to tag tracks with specific locations, and tap into a database of other users’ music tagged with the same location. Everyblock.com is a new service in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, funded by the Knight Foundation, which aggregates an enormous amount of public data - from crime statistics and liquor license applications to building permits and restaurant public health inspections) which is searchable city block by city block, direct to your mobile. Poor meals in restaurants may well be a thing of the past.
Despite impending global recession, there’s no need to to throw yourself from the window ledge. A few precautionary measures - such as not scrimping on the data budget, should help you through. So says Market Location’s Patrick Bradshaw, who hasn’t mellowed one bit following the recent birth of his 4th child. We should have known… 54 58 52
Don’t struggle with Credit: Crunch some data (err – no surprise there!) and we borrow too much. Even worse, petrol and food prices are rising steeply, so we need to keep interest rates high to stop people eating too much or driving too far! No other prices are rising, but Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England (the UK’s central bank), and the Monetary Policy Committee aren’t paid to think.
Manchester United’s Sir Alex Fergusson has done it again! 10 times winning team manager of the English Premier League in 16 years is supreme. Sir Alex must be experiencing a similar feeling to that of Tony Blair back in 1997, when he and his bunch of cronies conned the nation into thinking that New Labour would be different and would last! They must even have convinced themselves that this was something different, because they went to the extreme lengths of recruiting John Prescott (hardly top of the list for winning votes) just to remind the Trade Unions that they were actually voting for a ‘socialist’ party. It now appears that for the majority of the time Labour has been in power, Gordon Brown has been desperate to become the Premier. Having enjoyed a time where world economics has meant that his job as chancellor must have been as simple as falling off a log, he finally lands the big one, but has NO idea what to do! Meanwhile, the rest of us are being told by every newspaper that our financial future is completely stuffed, because the banks can’t lend money, old folk are living too long, pensions don’t work
The bit I don’t understand is why there are still massive queues at petrol stations and supermarkets. Yes, even in chav-filled Morrisons. Having drinks after tennis with a mate who works in London’s financial district, his wife told me that some of the refurbishment work on their outbuildings was on hold while they wait for planning permission for the new swimming pool: he looked at me with only a feint glimmer of fear as he uttered “what recession?”. My friends who don’t work in the industry know that data has something to do with marketing and ask if that is one of the first things to be cut from the budget in times of drought and hunger? As it happens, I think we gain and lose some customers. There are of course those small businesses that operate from hand to mouth each month, and for which marketing of any sort is almost a luxury. However, there are also those businesses that spend a fortune on advertising in media where they cannot really track the return on their investment. Such businesses have become nervous of working on a hunch and would like to have better intelligence on their customers and prospects. Indeed, we have picked up a lot of work this year not just from those looking to broadcast their message, but also from those looking to be careful to whom they broadcast that message. They want to contact businesses not only that are relevant to them, but also
that are likely to be able to pay the bill. Data companies are the Fairy Liquid of the marketing world. Companies must communicate with their customers come what may: even more so with their prospects! However, there is a danger to data during difficult times. There are those companies who might decide that quality is less of an issue and that cheap and cheerful will do! It’s like cutting your defence budget in a war – and the trouble is that there is plenty of tat out there being offered by the less reputable data companies – it even looks set to be growing. It is rumoured that would be entrants to the UK data market have sunk so low as to key in printed directory information to later sell on as their own database. What’s dangerous about these people is the “Buyer Beware” syndrome, where a massive directory company comes down like a ton of bricks on a data end-user, as they have marketed to a “seed” (a made up record - actually an address of the data owner, designed to catch people stealing their data). Probably more worrying are those companies that claim to spider the web and grab information (permission and ethics are an expensive distraction to these organisations) which again they display as a database of their own making! There is an easy way to deal with such companies. It is VITAL to ask after the source of any company’s data that is being offered. Do not get caught in the spider’s web of illegally collected data, as you can guarantee that your supplier will not carry the can for you! You will be liable. So, in times of less certainty financially, getting to know your prospects intimately makes loads of sense: just watch you don’t end up with a seedy introduction agency!
EDM 08 This year’s European Directory Marketplace 2008 (EDM08) conference, Search in the Mobile Era, will be held on June 9th, 2008 in London, and will focus on the explosive mobile search market. EDM08 will be held in the David Lean Room of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London
InfoVision Group (IVG) is one of the largest independent IT enabled services companies in India. With over 15 years of experience its 11,000 employees are focused on delivering solutions in running call centres, database management and back office support services for domestic and international customers.
We are an independent public relations and marketing agency, based in the North West of England. Specialising in the Telecoms, IT and Financial Services sectors, we will help you to establish who you are, what you do and what you stand for, amongst your target audience. Build awareness and generate leads with our targeted, measurable and effective campaigns. Turn your targets into prospects and prospects into
InfoVision Group 339, Udyog Vihar,Phase IV, Gurgaon 122015 Phone Fax: +44 (0)1282 878305 www.infovisiongroup.com
customers. Pendle Innovation Centre, Brook Street Nelson Lancashire United Kingdom BB9 9PU +44 845 4900 588 +44 845 4900 589 firstname.lastname@example.org www.jordan-comms.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 20 323 96934
Wireless Directory Networks
Soft Method SoftMethod has a proud tradition of delivering excellent software services to businesses for over 30 years. Since 1975 we have been developing high quality customised, bespoke software solutions for businesses involved the commercial, transport and communication sectors. spieljochstr. 34 81825 münchen Germany tel +49.89.437787.0 fax +49.89.437787.99 email@example.com www.softmethod.de
WDN’s ComNote® is a secure SMS notification technology enabling mobile subscribers to remain unpublished in directories, yet allows them to be contacted via text message without revealing their wireless phone numbers. “ComNote provides a secure, operator system-facilitated caller ID service, protecting subscriber privacy and providing a user friendly and seamless contact service.” - Jeffrey Strunk, CEO, Wireless Directory Network Village West #2 3002 Main Street Carrabassett Valley, ME 04947 USA Worldwide: Jeffrey Strunk at 001.207.939.0100 (M) or 001.207.237.3007 Europe: Enrique Martinez de Velasco, WDN-Europe 34-609-002690 www.wirelessdirectorynetwork.com
First Angel First Angel Film provides high impact digital video production & marketing services for websites. We specialise in creative video solutions for any business, organisation or project. Whether it’s a simple video to demonstrate your products, or an original full web ad campaign, First Angel will walk you through the process step by step, ensuring your satisfaction with every stage. First Angel Film, 21 Stoney Knoll, Bury New Road, Salford, Manchester M7 2BR UK +44 (0) 845 051 0370 www.firstangelfilm.co.uk
PBXnSIP Optics Reaching your full potential month after month, year after year is hard work, even for the most dedicated person. That’s why every single Olympic athlete has a coach. The coach doesn’t compete but he is a vital component. It’s the same in life and business – if you are really serious about reaching your potential you are going to need help to get there. Optics is about giving you the chance to win gold – whatever that means for you. Optics Ltd 30-32 Albert Drive Orrell Park Liverpool L9 8BQ UK
We bring the PBX and SIP together…
Whatever your requirements, raw data or high end leads, we can help. But we don’t stop there. With over 25 years experience at all levels of data supply & lead generation we research, advise and recommend the best ways to minimise data waste and achieve maximum results from your efforts.
Embrace Mobility: Use your cell phone with the pbxnsip PBX Increase Productivity: Save a few minutes every day Stay Independent: The choice of a large range of available VoIP equipment
+44 (0)845 22 54 515 or visit www.kensingtonsteele.co.uk
Aspect Court 47 Park Square East Leeds LS1 2NL +44 (0) 113 350 8795 Email John Bennett at: jb@ pbxnsip.com www.pbxnsip.com
+44 (0) 151 523 6986 firstname.lastname@example.org www.optics.ltd.uk
TT Office TT-Office provides businesses with a one stop shop approach to a full hosted service solution, delivered in an easy to understand user friendly format. We provide, supply, install and configure the network, phones, applications and all interconnects to deliver a solution with minimum complexity and maximum effectiveness. Contact – Warren Hill + 44 (0) 845 271 7102 email@example.com www.tt-office.com
The responsa service has been developed, consumer tested has been operational in Slovakia as a T-Com service. The service is protected by patents, trademarks, and extensive copyrights; it comes complete with technology, business models, consumer and supplier information and sufficient marketing material to enable a fast launch in a marketplace. Responsa is looking for potential investors to either fund joint venture trials with incumbent Telco’s and directory providers, or to use it’s patented, disruptive technology service to bring a value added, branded proposition to a mass consumer market, competing with incumbents.
Tariff Consultancy Ltd is a new consultancy focused on pricing and tariff research, analysis and consultancy across mobile operator businesses internationally. www. telecomspricing.com (previously www.mobilepricing.com) is the resource centre for information, data, analysis, reports, studies, consultancy, research, symposia and events related to fixed and mobile pricing. Tariff Consultancy Ltd, 47 Cecil Road, London, W3 0DB +44 (0) 208 993 6861, Mobile: 0777 625 4827 + 44 (0) 870 922 3452 firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISE HERE CALL US ON +44 (0)845 4900 588
+44 (0)1282 878305 email@example.com www.responsa.co.uk
Mobile Tariff Tracking, Benchmarking and Analysing Post and Prepaid Pricing covering all 5 continents plus Voice and Data Roaming, Mobile Broadband, Mobile TV, Mobile Music, Triple and Quadruple Play pricing and more...