The launch of the first integrated e-mail and SMS text messaging product to be fully certified by Microsoft is set to save British businesses £millions in landline to mobile call charges and generate a new revenue stream for dealers and resellers.
The new software package, called OutlookSMS, allows users to send and receive mobile phone text messages directly from e-mail packages including Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express.
As well as accreditation from Microsoft, product developer Mediaburst is also an IBM Partnerworld partner and the company has developed a version of the software for Lotus Notes. The company has already started shipping the solution for Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes and the version for Outlook Express will be available from July.
The vast majority of UK businesses use both e-mail and mobile phones and until now there has been no convergence between the products apart from costly high-end solutions. OutlookSMS provides an affordable and accessible solution for all businesses regardless of size.
Mediaburst has already signed up a number of dealers and resellers including Axxent and Brigantia and it is actively recruiting additional dealers to sell the product.
The potential of the product has been recognised by mobile phone network O2 who has partnered with Mediaburst to tailor a version of OutlookSMS for the O2 customer base.
Each dealer signing up with Mediaburst will be provided with a bespoke marketing and advertising campaign to help them sell the product to customers. As well as making a margin on the product, resellers will benefit from a recurring revenue stream derived from the billing of messages.
In addition to integrated messaging, OutlookSMS also features a mobile phone location solution which allows users to display the location of a handset to within 20m on a digital map on a PC within 30 seconds. This will offer organisations from the Health Service to estate agents an affordable and simple solution to address the problem of keeping track of lone workers and management of field based personnel.
The handset location module has massive potential for businesses with large field based workforces and will allow them to locate and re-route staff when they are needed to address urgent customer calls thereby saving time and wasted fuel associated with personnel having to make unnecessary detours. OutlookSMS provides a reliable location solution for the price of two text messages compared to costly satellite (GPS) based tracking systems.
The product features comprehensive opt-in technology which requires the mobile phone user to give consent to have their handset located and this ensures personal privacy is not breached. Once mobile phone owners have opted in and agreed to have their handsets located, they can opt out at any point in the future.
As Mediaburst Director Jeremy Bygrave points out, “The vast majority of UK businesses already have e-mail and mobile phones and OutlookSMS is the missing link that converges the two technologies. We believe it will give dealers and resellers a real reason to talk to their customer bases and also to generate a recurring revenue.”
“British businesses currently spend more than £1billion every year on land-line to mobile calls and the average call duration is 3 minutes. At least 60% of these calls are to pass on simple messages which could easily be conveyed by SMS.
“We believe OutlookSMS has the potential to reduce this call traffic and insodoing save UK businesses in excess of £160M per annum.”
Despite the fact that text messaging has become a facet of everyday life with more than 20 billion messages sent every year in the UK, SMS has not been adopted as a mainstream business communications protocol because until now there has not been the recognition of its potential or the means to realise it.
Integration with e-mail means SMS messaging capability is available in the software package in which most business users spend a significant amount of their working day.
“This is an application that will help businesses save time and money on both their phone bills and also on the management of field based personnel. We believe users will see an immediate return on investment from this product. This powerful proposition means the product represents an excellent revenue opportunity for resellers.
“OutlookSMS is fully accredited by Microsoft and is powered by Cisco. It integrates seamlessly with most common e-mail packages currently used by businesses. This means sending a text from a PC will be as easy as sending an e-mail and it will make SMS a reliable business communications tool which will give users full traceability of message receipt and delivery.
“Our product converges the PC and the mobile phone. Unlike many similar products on the market which promise SMS and e-mail integration our product actually delivers on the promise with a truly converged solution,” Jeremy Bygrave adds