Unified communications vision takes shape at Unified Inbox: Page 2 of 2
By Gabey Goh June 18, 2014
In the pipeline
In April, Unified Inbox officially set up its international headquarters in Singapore, a strategic move to grow the company globally and expand into Asia. It is also looking to raise another round of funding from investors in Singapore and the surrounding regions.
Ruckert shares that Unified Inbox is now in closed beta, with work underway on the final product that will be officially launched to market in early 2015.
“However, I invite any readers who want to, to sign up to try it out. We’re also working with channel partners, from ISPs (Internet service providers) and telecommunications providers, to even governments, to roll out across South-East Asia beginning 2015.
“It should be available to all by the end of next year,” he says, claiming that current signed channel partners grant the company access to 250 million end-user subscribers worldwide.
In terms of pricing, Ruckert says it would depend on telco partners and whether they decide to subsidise the cost of the offering or charge a fee that could be a few dollars a month.
“And as you go up from individuals to businesses, which would have more people on it, the price would depend on support and also whether additional channels will need to be integrated,” he adds.
Unified Inbox’s current value lies in the amount of time saved, with a single hub that allows users to not only be notified of new communications but also immediately take action, be it to assign follow-ups to colleagues, delete and archive correspondence, or reschedule it to be handled later.
It is underpinned by a concept described by Ruckert as “the five Ds” – Defer, Delegate, Delete, Distribute and Do.
“The idea behind it is that your unified inbox is as powerful as your five fingers, creating structured data from unstructured inbox traffic,” he adds.
The company’s offering does resemble services currently live or being developed on mobile systems, most notably Google Now, an intelligent personal assistant developed by US technology giant Google Inc.
First launched in 2012, Google Now uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of web services.
Along with answering user-initiated queries, it passively delivers information to users that it predicts they will want, based on their search habits.
Ruckert admits that what Unified Inbox is trying to achieve, with its stated “ultimate goal” of becoming a personal assistant that helps users manage their digital lives, is not unlike what Google Now offers but with a distinct difference – it is a pure-play business that is ecosystem- and device-agnostic.
“Ultimately our solution seeks to change and streamline communications. You won’t need to choose the channel to reach out to someone or vice versa. Tomorrow, just send a message and Unified Inbox will choose the channel for you,” he declares.
It is this commitment to being a pure-play business that has defined much of Unified Inbox’s journey to date, and why many of its channel partners are telco operators.
“The reality is that no company can do this due to existing affiliations with companies such as Facebook or Google – you either become a friend or an enemy.
“To be a pure-play, we need to be neutral and speak with everyone -- that is when you can truly united the East and the West as a communications platform. There needs to be no political baggage either, which has made it an additional challenge when finding the right investors,” he adds.
With all the pieces coming together, if Ruckert needs any further validation for the complexity of the problem being solved and the path he and his team have set forth on, they only need remember the following anecdote he shared with DNA:
“One of the telcos we were talking to, they put five teams to work trying to recreate what we had, spending so much money in the process. In the end, they said ‘we couldn’t do it so we’re buying the technology off you!’
“I wish more telcos would realise this, because it genuinely is bloody hard to do,” he adds with a smile.
For more information about Unified Inbox, click here.
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