Call Me, Not My Number

Yesterday I talked about convergence from a multiple application point of view. What about the user experience across the multiple devices I use?

Nortel FMC Demo

I saw this cool converged demo at the Nortel booth showing a laptop, a desk phone and a mobile device each running a Microsoft operating system running the Office Communicator (IM) client. It got my attention because it was about communicating with me, not with my devices.

On the desk phone, once I logged into that “terminal”, I could see my contact list, notice if my associates were online, offline or busy and make/receive calls from there. Also, once logged in, I would then appear “online” within the contact lists of my associates.

On the laptop, I might be traveling on the train connected via WiMAX and could initiate a call to one of my associates in my contact list without the need to know what number to reach them on. As I place that call, I can include a short “subject line” which then appears on whatever device my associate has logged in to. The associate could then select to take the call or forward to voicemail based on the subject line I provided.

Then, when I put my laptop away, I would log in with my mobile handset, and could then view my contact list and make and receive calls from that device.

The point being two things: 1) it is about communicating with me, not with my device. If my associates wanted to reach me, they didn’t need to know where I was or what device to call – they called me, and I received their call through whichever device I had selected. And 2), the application interface – the user experience – was consistent, regardless which device I was using. I didn’t have to change the way I work based on the device I was using.

I am aware that this “follow me” capability has been in use by some corporations for a while. But, it was the familiar and consistent user interface across all these devices that really grabbed my attention on this demo. That’s what we need.

I believe the industry calls this fixed mobile convergence (FMC), and though the demo I saw was only for a voice application, imagine if our entertainment and community applications worked this way also. Now that’s got some teeth.

It would take on a whole new meaning the next time I said “hey, call ME later!”

2 Responses to Call Me, Not My Number

  1. Joseph says:

    Convergence is great, but it’s worthless if the sauce that makes it happen is secret. I couldn’t help but notice that Microsoft was required on all of the devices. How about some open standards, eh?

  2. Marc says:

    @Joseph – maybe not exactly “worthless”, but certainly limiting for innovation and the power of what group effort could achieve!! Anyone want to place some chips on Microsoft moving into open standards?