PALM DESERT, Calif. — Communications technologies constituted the bulk of the relentless barrage of presentations — 19 companies at six minutes a pop — at the launch of Demo 08 here on Jan. 29.
If there is a thematic current running under the show, it’s that vendors are looking to leverage the Internet fabric as a communications platform for consumers, small businesses and big enterprises.
The focus at Demo, as always, is on new technologies, running the gamut from consumer applications to software for small businesses and enterprises. Technologies in the latter carried the torch for the launch of the show, particularly in communications.
One company that has already garnered attention is Ribbit, which confidently bills itself as the first Silicon Valley phone company (a marketing coup if ever there was one). I had a Web conference with these guys last week and their voiceware, Amphibian, was no less impressive today.
Amphibian allows consumers to answer calls to their mobile phones from their PC. The Web page acts as a mobile phone, even offering a visual representation of a phone to allow users to dial out from their PC. Amphibian also enables contacts in social networks thanks to its integration with Google’s OpenSocial platform.
For example, Ribbit co-founder Crick Waters showed how he uses Amphibian to connect to Plaxo and contact users in that network. This will also work for Skype VOIP (voice over IP) and Google Talk.
To Ribbit: Take this technology into the enterprise and watch it fly. I know it can do it. Ribbit debuted last month Ribbit for Salesforce, allowing mobile calls, voice messages and text transcriptions to bleed right into Salesforce.com to keep users from going from phone to PC and back.
800 PBX meanwhile introduced 800 Genie, a personalized telephony service that mashes voice and data through special voice recognition technology. During the demo, company officials made a phone call to the application to check e-mail via phone. The automated system retrieved new messages and read them over the phone to the user.
Tools for Group Work
Interesting, but how lazy do you have to be to call your inbox to check messages? The company also addresses help desk support, credit card fraud control and appointment services, all of which I understand a little better. I guess if your thumbs are tired of paddling that Blackberry, 800 Genie is the way to go.
Also of interest, LegiTime Technologies is addressing the smart phone management issue for power users of office software on the go. While Lotus Notes and Outlook help users better manage their daily routines, there really isn’t a piece of software that does this for the mobile device.
The company’s LegiText software looks to reduce inbox clutter by letting users categorize and create messaging groups on the fly for some serious mobile collaboration.
Speaking of collaboration, the morning session had no shortage of tools for group work. TimeTrade has created TimeDriver, which puts a button in e-mail and Web pages to let sales and support professionals schedule meetings with clients. This software could be a boon for people who are tired of the constant e-mail back-and-forth just to hash out meeting times.
Company officials invited and received confirmation for a meeting in four steps. Appointments flow into a Google or Outlook calendar taking their place seamlessly along other appointments.
Project management. Those two words tend to make eyes glaze over. LiquidPlanner’s new project management software makes using software like Basecamp seem like boot camp, offering a reprieve from an older style.
While traditional project management tools are challenged to keep up with information, LiquidPlanner uses ranged estimates and scheduling based on probability to narrow down about how long a project will take.
It might not seem like a big deal, but being right in this space can save companies a lot of time and resources.