Extending business processes to mobile is no easy feat in today’s uncertain economy. Businesses are looking for new tools to communicate with their employees, customers and partners without extensive application development and system integration efforts.
Many applications can be extended to mobile devices with just voice communications and messaging. However, up to now, only large firms with big budgets and sophisticated IT departments, or system integrators could deploy these solutions, with integrations taking weeks, if not months.
An opportunity to address this problem came to light as a result of TIP, AT&T’s idea crowd-sourcing project. When an employee described the challenge and possible solutions, a new venture was born, in close collaboration with Twilio and application developers, to pursue AT&T Advanced Communications Suite (ACS), a suite of Web-based communications applications to help business users communicate with their employees, partners, suppliers, and customers with voice, SMS, email, and more. These easy-to-use applications could be available to businesses in minutes through a common Web portal with a hassle-free e-commerce purchasing experience.
These applications can include appointment reminder services, polling & surveying data collection tools, ad-hoc workgroup calling and messaging, business continuity, and geo-smart messaging. While business users can get up and running quickly with prepackaged apps, technical users may be inspired to extend ACS to new communications scenarios, building their own voice and SMS-enabled applications.
Jon Spinney, an employee working as a product marketing manager for AT&T Mobility, took notice of the challenges customers face and envisioned a product completely opposite of what’s in the marketplace today. He asked, “Why not offer 100 applications that each do one thing really well instead of one difficult-to-implement, difficult-to-use application that tries to do 100 things at once?”
“When people ask who I work for, I say I work for my customers,” said Spinney. “I want to give customers something that makes their lives easier.” ACS sprouted from an idea submitted into AT&T’s internal crowdsourcing tool, The Innovation Pipeline or TIP, and has been fast-tracked into the product development process.
Over time, any number of apps could be offered within ACS as business needs and customers evolve in the future. Some potential functionalities might include the following:
- Crossing carrier boundaries. ACS could offer cross-carrier enablement, meaning apps from the ACS portfolio could communicate with people on virtually any network.
- Seamless Choices. Within ACS, customers would subscribe to apps they want by using “credits” rather than dollar amounts, and use points to account for usage or to subscribe to additional apps, scaling as their business grows with no boundaries
- Advanced Services. As advanced communications grow and expand beyond voice and messaging, the possibilities are endless to add new types of interactions, such as video conferencing or location-based services.
*This document is not an offer, commitment, representation or warranty by AT&T and is subject to change. Any product ultimately offered by AT&T may contain features and functionalities different from those described.