Iobi, you obi, we all obi
So you've got your wireless phone, your landline and your Web access. Toss in other modes of communication — e-mail, voice mail, smoke signals, carrier pigeons, etc. — and sometimes it feels like you need a new service just to manage all those other services.
Enter Iobi. Launched by Verizon Communications in late September, Iobi enables subscribers to manage their myriad voice mail, e-mail and text messages via phone, hand-held computer or PC — any network device, really. The service offers functions that include call-forwarding from home to an office or wireless number; SMS alerts indicating new voice mail messages; caller ID that generates the number of an incoming call even before it rings, so users can decide whether to route it to voice mail or transfer it to another number; and a map illustrating the points of origin of incoming calls. It's a virtual secretary and switchboard operator all in one.
“What we heard from the customer is ‘I'm getting overloaded — I have all these methods of communication, but none of them have anything to do with each other,’” said Toby Frank, the Verizon product manager overseeing the Iobi service. “So our IT department set out to integrate the communications experience for the customer and allow not only the customer to do things they already do more effectively but to present a whole new way of using products and services that before they could only use the way we designed them.”
Case in point: Iobi virtually reinvents voice mail.
“If you have 12 messages, you have to listen to them all to find out what they're about,” Frank said. “Iobi allows you to access your computer screen to see all your voice mails and who left them for you, so you can choose the order you want to listen to them. It's taking a service customers already have and are used to using within certain constructs — we're saying, ‘Forget those constructs. Use these products the way you want to.’”
Iobi currently is available in five New England markets at $7.95 per month. Frank said Verizon plans to roll out the service into some of its Western markets by year's end; an enterprise service, dubbed Iobi Professional, is also on tap.
And the brand name? “It's made up,” Frank said. “We were looking for a name people would remember and associate positively with. Our focus groups said it sounded high-tech, but it also sounded friendly. The fact that it rhymes with ‘Toby’ has nothing to do with the decision at all.”
THE RELATIVE EFFECTS OF DATA FEATURES MAKE ON HANDSET BUYING DECISIONS
In its research, Advanis asked its pool of wireless users to choose between handsets of differing prices and feature sets to determine how attractive applications like mobile video were to perspective buyers. On Advanis' scale, a score of 100 had the most impact, while a score of 50 had half as much impact.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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