InterCall Mobile Assistant Reduces Conference Call Friction
Mobile UC is more than simply making calls to enterprise extensions ring on mobile phones or being able to channel all voicemails to the enterprise messaging servers. Mobile UC includes what for most users are the longest calls they take on their mobiles – enterprise conference calls – and the mechanisms that simplify initiation, management and control of the mobile conference call user experience.
One application-service is the InterCall Mobile Assistant which was first released in 2006 as a BlackBerry script that automated a user’s login DTMF sequence to their most frequent conferencing sessions. Today, the product name encompasses client software not only for BlackBerry, but Windows Mobile, iPhone and Symbian S60. Android support expands the addressable market to include a hot new class of mobile phone. The Android client is planned for release in the coming months.
The goal for the Mobile Assistant is to facilitate conference call initiation, joining and session management – making it easier for mobile users to create, join and manage their participation in audio conference calls. The Windows Mobile, Symbian S60 and BlackBerry client software is complemented with two important capabilities – Mobile Leader Smart Join feature and SMS Messaging services. The Smart Join feature recognizes the CLID of the leader’s mobile phone and automatically authenticates them to their conference bridge.
The SMS Messaging service alerts invitees via an SMS message so that mobile invitees with the Mobile Assistant can simply click the number in the SMS and join the call directly.
iPhone OS 3.x
The iPhone Mobile Assistant is available for free download in the Apple iTunes App Store. Using a ‘profile’ metaphor, users define each of their conference authentication codes and detail where the bridge is to call, which can be a different phone number than the mobile. In this way, users can click and have the bridge dial out to start or join a conference.
This is an architectural distinction from the BlackBerry client. The BlackBerry client initiates the call to the bridge. The iPhone Mobile Assistant sends a message to have the bridge initiate the call to the iPhone. This mode of operation is necessary since the iPhone’s OS 3.x does not support multi-threaded operations. Apps shutdown once the dialer is initiated.
So, once the bridge call is accepted by the user, they can initiate the iPhone Mobile Assistant which then engages the control panel for call leaders who can view the participant list, mute selected participants from a list or mute all participants, lock, record, disconnect some or end the call. For iPhone OS pre-4.0 users, the client passes a message to the conference server which dials the iPhone. Once a conference call is engaged, users can control their participation more precisely using the client controls.
The company estimates that there are more than 100,000 downloads installed since 2006 and about 2,000 more each month.
Mobile Assistant is available for free download from the various device vendor app stores. Windows Mobile and BlackBerry users can download their versions of the Mobile Assistant from http://mobile.intercall.com. You can also download the appropriate user guide in PDF form.
InterCall continues to develop the mobile app portfolio (Android release is expected soon) with new features, and distribute the app at no cost to users. Enabling a more convenient conference call experience makes sense along several dimensions. Mobile Assistant:
- Reduces the barrier to more frequent usage (increasing revenues for InterCall)
- Raises user loyalty to InterCall since the app-service is so personal and useful
- Since the bridge details and SMS feature are so tightly integrated into the business processes around collaboration, it actually raises switching costs, and
- Increases user satisfaction with the conferencing experience
These advantages are a important part of adding value to the conferencing service. And, enabling new features like the Active Talker which shows the name of the participants that is speaking on the list of participants, makes the user experience more productive.