Resource Management

— September 01, 2006

With all the talk these days about single device convergence and the rise of "prosumer" devices in the workplace, companies such as Orative--whose offering rests on the simple cell phone--seem better positioned than ever for success. The latter,
however, are hardly its major selling points. Paul Fulton, president, CEO and founder of Orative, had the not so crazy idea that enterprises could find value in enabling their employees to reach out to other employees--who were actually available to answer questions--all by using the devices already in their pockets.

Mobile Enterprise: What is the greatest advantage Orative offers the enterprise?

Paul Fulton: As consumers, for the most part we all use mobile phones as a primary method of calling. And when we get into the enterprise, we still use these phones, because this is how we get connected--we call a person now instead of a place. The problem is, these devices are not connected with the back office systems ... Employees are now more like islands, and they're disconnected from the mainland company.

So simply put, Orative extends enterprise communications to the employees' mobile phones. We integrate messaging and presence and contextual data and so forth, to enable voice communications to occur with the right people, and for the most part, on the first try.
me: What can reaching the right person at the right moment mean for a business' bottom line?

PF: In the service industry, for example, time is measured by expensive service level agreements. Many times the service individual is at a job site and doesn't know who to call. -- With Orative, all you have to do is put in some kind of search criteria--it could be a product name, a product number or even a function, such as IT--and the phone comes back to you with a list of employees that can help you solve that problem.

In the financial industry, it's important that they adhere to SEC regulations while they're talking with clients. So we work with installed PBXs, and we extend critical features and functionality to primarily managing directors' mobile phones. Essentially it's the same functionality, used differently in different verticals.

Basically, we help companies achieve ROI in three ways: One is by [reducing] the raw number of minutes people use by eliminating many of the unnecessary calls and phone tag. The second thing is people, humans, are making those calls, and those minutes are saved as well. It's a softer number, but it affects ROI--employee time is much more expensive, per minute, than cellular usage. And lastly, when a customer calls because their equipment is broken, or there's an RFP you have to get done at a certain time, the ability to reach the right person at the right time can have a significant impact on a company's bottom line. You can lose credibility, and you can lose the contract.

ME: What trends are you seeing in this space?

PF: Mobile phones are so ubiquitous now, and because people are using these phones more than their primary phones is it disruptive to the way the enterprise used to run. There's a study, from Accenture, that shows something like 40 to 50 percent of cell phone calls happen right next to a desk phone. This is a big trend that's snuck up on enterprise folks, and all of the functionality that we're used to having with a PBX is now broken, because we don't know how to reach these people.

ME: What advice would you impress upon decision- makers responsible for choosing mobile solutions?

PF: I think it's important to understand that -- mobility itself is not a solution. Technology is not something companies buy. People want complete solutions, and I think it's important that decision makers look for mobility products that bolt seamlessly to what already exists in the enterprise. There is no green-field opportunity. -- My advice is, think about the entire solution, think about something that bolts these together, and I think that'll solve a lot of problems as you go to deploy these things. //

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