31 July 2007

Another take on the WebTone "napkin pitch"

We're working on refining the "napkin pitch" for the WebTone, and here's what we've come up with so far:

The day is coming when every phone and mobile device will be on an IP network. At the same time, every browser will receive and send IP-based phone calls. Phones, browsers, and converged "browser phones" will deliver voice, web, email, video, and related data to users. This new capability, which we call the WebTone, ushers in an era of dramatically increased personal and business productivity.

To capitalize on the promise of the WebTone, M1 Global has spent four years and $15M building StarPound. StarPound is a powerful, flexible, and open source platform for creating communication-enabled business process applications, the foundation of the WebTone. With StarPound, M1 delivers IP phone services and key business applications for collaborative customer service, contact centers, field service, logistics, supply chain management, and more.
M1 is actively seeking partners and entrepreneurs across key industries who recognize opportunities to bring to market converged voice and data services, and vertical-specific applications. These partnerships with M1 Global will deliver IP-based phone services to customers, in effect being their phone company. These vertical phone companies open up new possibilities and deliver much more value to the business than just dial tone. They deliver the WebTone.

20 July 2007

The WebTone on a napkin

Someone challenged me to frame a "napkin pitch" for the WebTone. Sounds
like a good idea for a blog post, to me.

Fact: Soon every phone in your customer's office and every mobile device they have in the field will be on an IP network.
Fact: Soon every computer your customer uses will be able to receive and send IP-based phone calls.

Question: When that day arrives, who will be the phone company that delivers these calls to your customer?
Answer: With the power of the WebTone, you could deliver your customer's phone services integrated with your business applications. Providing converged data and phone services together would open new avenues to expand your offering and to improve efficiency and customer service.


Mobile phones are already doing much more than delivering calls; they deliver voice, web, email, and video. Millions of people are using their browser to talk on the phone. The WebTone goes one step further to deliver converged voice and data services with vertical-specific applications.

The phone companies are already delivering content, and they'll continue to get better at it. Smart money is on delivering converged applications that accomplish key business processes.

In the future, the "phone company" delivering the call will be the player that delivers the phone call with a customer screen pop showing a history of recent interactions. The phone company will integrate field service activities on hand-held browser devices with back-end systems and with automated follow up phone surveys.

With the WebTone, these new vertical phone companies will deliver much more value to the business than just a phone call.

28 June 2007

The IPhone and the WebTone

The WebTone is possible now because of the convergence of voice and data on the IP network. When your phone call is sent over the same network as your web browser pages, it is much easier to deliver voice and data in a converged way.

But one key component to making the WebTone a reality is the emergence of converged devices that could handle both voice and data at the same time. Enter, the Apple IPhone, billed as "Internet in your Pocket" (http://www.apple.com/iphone/internet/).

While phones have allowed you to browse the internet and do email in some fashion for years, the IPhone will take that experience to a whole new level. (Or at least that's what they're promising.)

But even now, Apple isn't rolling out a true WebTone--where your phone calls and data are tightly integrated. Out of the box, it seems that the IPhone really is just the "Internet in your pocket." You can surf, do email, search, and make phone calls from one cool-looking gadget.

The true power of the WebTone comes when you create business applications that use a converged device like the IPhone to improve customer service or enhance the efficiency of a critical business process.

And that, I believe, is just around the corner.

22 June 2007

A world famous coffee pot

I first got excited about the possibilities of convergence in the early 1990s when someone showed me the Trojan Room Coffee Pot. (For a history lesson, go here.)

Using the network, these guys at the University of Cambridge could publish a near-real-time photo of a coffee pot located on another floor. And, since it was the Internet, anyone in the world could see that coffee pot.

Most of my friends in technology thought I was crazy, but I realized that this would revolutionize the world of broadcasting and publishing. It put the power to broadcast and publish content into the hands of the people, at least the people who could understand the technology. And now, look where we are: YouTube and MySpace allow anyone, from grade schoolers to grandparents, to publish and broadcast their own content.

20 June 2007

What is a WebTone?

The term "WebTone" was coined by Scott McNealy back in the 1990s to describe how the IP network would one day be readily available everywhere, just like a telephone dial tone.

But the WebTone is a smarter, more powerful version of the dial tone. On the legacy phone network, the dial tone was your connection to voice services--inbound and outbound calls, voice mail, directory services and such.

But with a converged IP network, the WebTone can deliver those same voice services and applications along with them. The WebTone provides converged voice and data functionality. For example, with a WebTone,

  • An incoming phone call received by a WebTone application can cause relevant customer data to be displayed on your browser at the same time.
  • Back-office events can trigger an automated outbound call to a customer to collect data, and then immediately connect that customer to a CSR.

With the WebTone, it is now possible to tightly integrate your data into customer interactions in new and powerful ways. From a business point of view, that means better customer service and improved operational and transactional efficiencies. That's the power of the WebTone.