Putting innovation in the too hard basket

Mobile Industry Review’s Ewan MacLeod posted a good early-morning thought today. Following a 4:00AM pick-up call from a taxi driver he wondered why it was not possible for his mobile network to provide him with contextual information about an incoming call rather than a caller’s number, or worse, the Withheld announcement:

“..surely there’s a way of easily plugging this stuff all together? The fact that I approved the call? The fact that the taxi firm HAVE my mobile details — couldn’t they be ‘approved’ to be able to display status and context to my phone, rather than the default number?

Is a call even necessary? Couldn’t the phone just turn green? Or flash red? Especially if the device knows I’m awake and operational, I certainly don’t need an interruption beyond ‘your taxi is here’. Like a growl update.

And if you do need to interrupt, do it with some kind of contextual information rather than a phone number.

Alas, I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like this from the mobile operator — despite the operator playing the role as the ultimate trusted party in the value chain.”

This is a great thought though not a new one. Ewan is not the first person to highlight the lack of mobile operator support for useful calling features, one wonders why such value-adds have not been delivered in IMS-RCS deployments, context aware caller info seems to be a perfect use case for the Rich Communication Suite.

I suspect this has a lot to do with being ‘too hard’ from a legal perspective. First comment on Ewan’s post (from someone in the banking industry) immediately flags up compliance issues and I can imagine that this mindset has a very loud and influential voice in the offices of many mobile operators. Shame.

Of course it’s also hard to build such a feature into off-net calls where a third party is used for terminations – not an insurmountable problem, but certainly a crunchy one.

However, an all IP comms network with some sensible opt-in rules might find that adding contextual information to calls becomes a useful and popular feature, maybe this is something that Skype should have implemented an age ago.

If this feature is not part of your Unified Communications strategy, think again.

Image: GreenSmith Consulting

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