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Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is the Program Co-Chair of the Enterprise Connect events, helping to set program content and direction for the...
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Eric Krapf | January 17, 2013 |

 
   

Here's My Web Link; Call Me Maybe?

Here's My Web Link; Call Me Maybe? We need a click-to-call directory. A standards body could do it, but maybe one (or more) are already being built.

We need a click-to-call directory. A standards body could do it, but maybe one (or more) are already being built.

Marty Parker makes a great observation in this piece: One casualty of "apps" and the mobile world in general is the keypad as an interface for "dialing" phones.

One of the most useful UC things inherent in smartphones is their ability to let you, with one click, call a person who's sent you an email or a calendar invite; you can likewise click to call a highlighted phone number on a mobile web page or, as Marty says, in an App. You don't need to look up a restaurant's phone number; you find the restaurant on Yelp or Open Table, or you Google it from a mobile browser, go to its mobile website, and click to call from there.

To do this from a desktop UC implementation, you have to cut the telephone desk set out of the picture (or at least, it's more efficient if you do). And you have to have a UC client, whether public (like Skype) or enterprise (Avaya, Cisco, etc.) to place the call.

A quick aside: Another emerging interface to replace the keypad is speech; we all know about Siri, but there's also a Web Speech API, released late last year, that essentially turns any Web browser into Siri, the same way that WebRTC turns any Web browser into Skype. Google touted the inclusion of Web Speech API in its recent Chrome 25 browser.

It's starting to seem like we need a Domain Name Service (DNS) for phone numbers. The analogy between Web URLs/IP addresses and People or Business Names/Phone Numbers seems to be getting tighter as the voice-enabled Web and the data-enabled mobile network come to full maturity.

There could be a "land rush" to do this function; sites like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, if they were voice-enabled, could become the de facto DNS for phone numbers. Just find the person on that platform and click to call.

We've tended to talk about Facebook's VOIP initiative in terms of some elaborate process by which Facebook takes over people's lives, and they have these holistic collaboration sessions with their friends in which everybody's going at a furious pace, talking to (or, more likely, at) each other, swapping photos, sharing links to third-party sites to recommend the latest snowboard or whatever, sharing videos and commenting on them at the same time: Intense, multimedia, full-on virtual meetups.

But what if the real value of Facebook, or Twitter, or whoever gets there first, is just the fact that their ubiquity makes them the most convenient place to do any one thing you want to do, even if you only want to do that one thing? Say I want to call someone from my Interpretive Dance class, I don't have their number, but I figure they've friended the instructor, so I can find that person easily enough on Facebook. If I just want to ask whether this person can give me a ride to class next Monday, maybe all I want to do is make a quick phone call. I don't need to share a video of a dance or link to some review in the New York Times; I just want to make a quick call. Facebook is the place I know I can go and get that set up quickly and easily.

We need a click-to-call directory. A standards body could do it, but maybe one (or more) are already being built.

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