Monday, December 29, 2008

The Top 25 VoIP Innovations of 2008

A very interesting article on VoIP-NEWS by Robert Poe - The Top 25 VoIP Innovations of 2008.

My comments to some of the innovations:

1. Creating an iNum country code for VoIP

This I do not unerstand. Maybe I'm shortsighted, maybe I don't understand the details - but what is the point in creating a ungeographical country prefix for VoIP ...unless you plan to create a VoIP country maybe :) ?! Ungeographical area prefix within a country for VoIP - makes sense to me. This is much like a mobile prefix. VoIP endpoints and softclients are less stationary than a regular fixed so a different prefix than the regular geographical prefix is understandable. Now, a few years back a VoIP prefix was added to the Polish numbering plan and even up till now it is not fully serviced, I think only one of the three mobile carriers actually route the prefix. OK, I know that this only shows how effective the Polish Regulator is but if we now put this in a bigger perspective confidering the iNum country code I just don't see how all the carriers will now jump at the idea, create new (IP maybe) InterConnects and start routing the new country code.


3. Extending voice-streaming technology to video

I have good experience with GIPS, we use their audio libraries in our software client at Gadu-Gadu so I'm very happy with GIPS extending to Video.


5. Voice-to-text transcription for both incoming and outgoing messages

Although I personlly like the idea, I don't think there are any commercially sucessfull voice-to-text services and I know a few that were very unsuccessfull. I think text-to-voice apps will follow the the same downward path. It's just easier to make a www based service :)

6. Free ad-supported international calling

Cool, cool, cool ! I love the idea and think this is where voice calling is going.


12. VoIP peering for Web-phone companies

There have been quite a few initiatives like this. Let's just go with Enum !

13. Flexible Web-based conferencing for SMBs (small- to medium-sized businesses)

Calliflower puts a fresh breeze over conferencing - excellent service.


15. IMs containing voice instead of text

Hmm.. It seems a bit complicated. First call a number, say the person from your contact list (probably a few times before it gets it right), record the message. The receipient then has to call the number and enter.... aaaah, just type 'Hi' - seems easier! :)


22. Turning Web developers into phone-service providers

Ribbit. Very innovative, bringing advanced voice features to developers in simple APIs. I wonder what SIP Servlet, Parlay, etc creators think when they read these ? Damn... now everyone know - it isn't rocket science !

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Widget - TokBox

TokBox is a browser based video calling service. It uses Adobe's Flash technology, so there is no need to install any active-x or JRE for java applet. I have been playing around with it for a while today and so far I like it. Every now and then you end up in a meeting and you also have someone at a conference call, you quickly want to set up a video call but there is no easy way, you don't have Skype, the other guy doesn't Have Gizmo. after a few minutes of trying to install something stick with voice not to waste time - TokBox would probably come in handy here! I like the widgets, I like the layout and functionality and I like the chick on the default Video Mail.

Want to leave me a Video Mail ? click below.

innovative mobile marketing in Japan

So how does a crisps snacks manufacturer promote its two new brands ?

Well here in Poland I would imagine the company would hire an advertising agency that would make a tv ad, few outdoor posters and if the agency was digital enough it would through in a few banners on some web portals and social networking sites. An innovative, cutting edge social media creative agency would probably make a profile on a chosen social networking site, post a few blog entries and try to get closer to the users by sponsoring some branded application or widget.
A Japanese agency Hakuhodo went a little further and they’ve created a mobile based massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) for the snacks manufacturer Tohato! The game is called the World’s Worst War. Tohato launched two new spicy snacks “Tyrant Habanero Burning Hell Hot” and “Satan Jorquia Bazooka Deadly Hot”. What they’ve done was they have created two Evil Armies associated with the two snack brands. Buying a bag of snacks and scanning a 2D code you could enter the game and join one of the two armies, depending on which taste you liked more. Players could recruit friends to join their evil army and get points for that. The Evil Armies had 31 battlefields for fight on to win the World’s Worst War. Examples of the names of the battlefields – “Sweet Sucker’s Execution Hall” or “City of Anal Torture”. Players would interact with the game through the mobile phone. News feeds regarding who won the battle or who dies were delivered by SMS.
Now this is a really damn cool campaign! Not only is it innovative, up-to-date and mobile based - it combines physical and virtual elements to create fun game precisely targeted at the selected audience. It’s digital, it uses social networking but it’s not intrusive – it doesn’t aim at hitting you with as many banners as possible just to get the brand stuck in your head, it’s smart and innovative.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

strategic management integration workshop

I’m on Gadu-Gadu’s management team and earlier this week I have had the opportunity of attending a strategic management integration workshop training thingy. Gadu-Gadu is the largest Instant Messenger in Poland and is one of the largest IM networks in the world. When I was joining Gadu-Gadu three years ago, there were less than 10 people working here on full time basis whereas now the headcount is somewhat around 200 ? but I lost count already ..Anyway back to the point – the company is growing dynamically. As any growing company it is and will go through phases before finally reaching one of the final stages of growth – the Corporation, something that Gadu-Gadu wants to keep away form for as long as possible. Phases mean evolution and evolution unfortunately needs revolution – one of the aims of the training was to educate us a bit about those evolution and crisis phases and try to minimize the effects of the latter.

Three things stayed in my head after the workshop.

First. Greiner’s model of the evolution and revolution as organizations grow. Many that people are joining on board Gadu-Gadu are coming from large corporations with a long professional experience. Thwy are usually shocked by the completely different culture at the company. Lack of dress-code and flat structure they like, but simple and lightweight procedures, Agile approach to projects, next to none bureaucracy and transparency only seem like an ideal environment at first. Then when it turns out that 10 approvals and 15 signatures are no longer needed to get things done, responsibility is very transparent – things get tricky. They tend to try and produce procedures, documents and approvals. And they put pressure to create procedures and documents to read sign and approve, circulate and approve and sign and read - because that’s how the big companies do it and that’s the way to go if the stakeholders want the organization to grow! ..well it turns out that not really dude. The organization should grow at its own natural pace and should go through any needed phases and should not really try to jump over any. Just like a 12 year old kid will not cope with university level requirements – too much procedures, and organized formal structure and the organization might instead kill its momentum and slow down growth. Let the kid learn himself, dont push him. A bit more about Greiner’s evolution and revolution as organizations grow can be found here.

Second. The Building Blocks Communication Skill Game. It’s unbelievable to see how some people take a simple game too seriously. A top manager on all fours trying to prove that his team's lego structure should win ..damn funny!

Third. The Ball Point Game. I’m a certified Scrum Master and know the tennis ball game from Scrum training. We had the same game here ..except the wind-up is quite different – here the main point was that a clearly stated requirement with defined boundaries mean better results from the team. Well, I like the Scrum wind-up a little more – it says that a clearly defined task with instructions on WHAT and not HOW will make the team organize and optimize itself to reach best possible results. More on the Ball Point Game here.