Today Skydeck, a California-based start-up came out of ‘stealth mode’ and launched what is on the face of it a consumer-focused call log analyser – according to their blog the site daily retrieves calling records from the user’s mobile operator (US only at present) and its main feature tracks usage of inclusive minutes and texts displaying them in a browser toolbar and enables some calling analysis. Useful to monitor tariffs and spending, but so far, so what…? Although new to the consumer space this kind of feature is widely available to businesses already. Consumer use is an evolutionary step that fills the time until all tarrifs are ‘unlimited’… useful for minding the pennies.
What really excites me about this new service though are the other features: the ability to search calls, a ‘smart’ address book and the ability to view your ‘social network’. Setting some of the buzz words aside, this got me thinking – my phone calls are now the only part of my regular communications that I don’t have any information about… Every month I stare blankly at the meaningless pages of unfamiliar numbers on my phone bill, but I can’t see the detail it hides. For e-mail I have spotlight (Mac) or X1 (Windows) to discover lost content. Tools such as Xobni or LinkedIn’s toolbar add varying sorts of social analysis to Outlook for business or Facebook, Plaxo Pulse and FriendFeed provide news streams for personal use. I can even now analyse my voicemail with my e-mail tools thanks to SpinVox’s delivery by e-mail. However, this data, the analysis I can do on it and all the mechanisms I can use to share it with those who (may) be interested is missing a major component – my phone calls – which for me are almost exclusively mobile. My phone’s call log presents a little of this data, but it’s view is a chronological one and there’s no function to analyse what it records (although possibly Nokia’s Mobile Web Server shows some promise in providing access to this information)
To understand my calling pattern, not by cost but by person is the key: Which client haven’t I updated recently? Who’s being left out of the planning discussions? Who do I rely on for help without realising it? Who calls me most?
Initially, the ability just to tag and analyse contacts would be a huge leap forward… but imagine if this data could be integrated with the existing tools. I could finally have a complete picture of my communication – recalling phone conversations and e-mail exchanges easily and truly understanding my real ‘social network’… One based on actual contact, not just the need to politely accept my colleagues friend requests (although I do like you guys!). Daring to dream a bit more widely… this data could be integrated with my contacts list, made available on my phone, used to change ring tones or to inform client billing…. Or it could just help me identify when my boss called me the other week so I can find the right diary notes I made (less exciting, but possibly more career-sustaining!)
So bravo Skydeck! Keep developing the network analysis tools, get integrated with some UK carriers and let’s see what magic happens… this is a rich untapped vein.
Of course, in addition to calling analysis, total communications enlightenment would require call transcription too – a kind of ‘always on’ SpinVox, a personal Echelon. Which leads me to close with an old joke:
Q: How do you let the NSA know you want a job with them?
A: Ring anyone and tell them.
I thank-you 🙂