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IVR Feature Articles

December 23, 2008

Fonolo is Phone-o-logic

By Hunter Newby, CEO

This article originally appeared in the December issue of Internet Telephony magazine.
Putting an entirely new spin on application-level VoIP Peering (News - Alert) is start-up company Fonolo. Based in Toronto, Canada, these good folks are doing the world a great service by end-point mapping the IVR roots of major companies that people call every day and turning those insane, time-wasting, frustrating “press 1 for this and 2 for that”, long hold time systems into a thing of the past. Saving time and getting right to the point immediately is beneficial for many obvious reasons, but what may not be so evident about this service are the process and other possibilities that could grow from it.

In a typical ENUM root server end-point records owner contributes them to a registry of some type, thus making them searchable and reachable by someone trying to dial the number and complete a call. This assumes that callers have access to the registry and some pre-defined call path or the session to actually occur over. Technically, ENUM works flawlessly if implemented properly, but it is very much a work-in-progress from the “adoption” perspective for enterprises.
The Fonolo (News - Alert) “process” is a bit of reverse engineering and differs from today’s popular ENUM registries; rather than having to get permission from the endpoint keepers, they “spider” the company IVR system, dial the end-points and map their “phone space”. All of this data is then translated into readable text and posted so that the end user (caller) can see the IVR root and click on the exact end-point they wish to reach within the company. Once they click, the Fonolo system goes to work and calls them back with the desired end-point already on the line! They call this “Deep Dialing”. Since things change they constantly spider the IVRs, keeping them updated.
This is not only interesting and helpful for the users, but should also be desired by the companies themselves as it can help reduce 1-800 in-bound toll charges incurred as callers route through the system and wait on hold (unless they are sadists who want people to sit on hold). This service does not spider all end-points in the world, but rather only those trapped inside IVRs that they have spidered so far. That may not be much today, but there are lots of trees and roots to be discovered in the IVR forest.
So, what path might this service take through the forest? Imagine a web search engine where you enter a question and what is returned is a link to a VoIP end-point of a company that can answer it. A master search engine for IVRs – now that’s logical.

Hunter Newby, Chief Strategy Officer and Director of a special purpose acquisition corporation in the communications industry, writes the VoIPeering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter�s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Greg Galitzine

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