May 2010

The editorial theme for this issue of the OSBR is Communications Enabled Applications (CEA). While using software to enhance communications is not new, there remain many untapped business opportunities available to the savvy entrepreneur as well as opportunities for any organization to improve the relationship with their customers. The authors in this issue draw upon their experiences to show the benefit in CEA and offer practical examples for those wishing to tap into this powerful resource.

This issue includes articles from six authors, of which three work for multinationals, one works for a small company, and two are founders of innovative technology companies.

As always, we encourage readers to share articles of interest with their colleagues, and to provide their comments either online or directly to the authors.

The editorial theme for the upcoming June issue of the OSBR is Growing Business and the guest editor will be Mekki MacAulay. Submissions are due by May 20--contact the Editor if you are interested in a submission.

Dru Lavigne



As anyone with a smartphone can appreciate, the power of having a mobile phone that can can access the Internet creates significant value for users and opportunities for businesses. This device-level integration of communication services and web applications is now common. However, we are only now scratching the surface of the next step in value: application-level integration. The ability to integrate communications services within web applications opens up tremendous opportunities. Examples of communications enabled applications include simple click-to-call links on a website, conference calls initiated by applications or users in response to events, interactive voice response menus, and any number of other ways that communication services, such as messaging, voice, and conference calls, can be integrated into an application to add value.

I recently had the pleasure of coordinating the activities of a group of entrepreneurs, developers, and architects as they explored together how CEAs can add value to their offerings and their business ecosystem. The Elena Project was funded by IRAP to stimulate small technology companies to develop working prototypes of CEAs and expand the capabilities of the Coral CEA business ecosystem and sandbox. The project focused on using four voice services and the open source web conferencing tool BigBlueButton.

Among the outcomes of this project was the realization that significant value can be leveraged when communications features become integral parts of applications. In this issue of the OSBR, a diverse group of authors share their experiences and knowledge to help others explore the value CEAs could bring to their own offerings. All of the authors in this issue participated directly in the Elena project or present analysis relating to Coral CEA.

Craik Pyke examines the history of telecommunications programmatic interfaces and their accompanying business models. He explores the shift from business models based on monetising application programming interfaces (APIs) directly, to models based on monetising the communications capabilities of the applications that use these APIs. Finally, he outlines an ecosystem approach to leveraging CEA services.

Daniel Cardenas shares his practical experiences integrating communications services into an event-management system. His analysis of the business case and technical approach illustrates how enabling communications yielded immediate improvements to operations, customer service, and revenues. He offers specific recommendations for others who may wish to follow a similar approach.

Andrew Ceponkus explores the role open source software and CEAs play in the future of patient record management and telehealth services. He identifies an opportunity for entrepreneurs who are open to collaboration and partnership in a space that has been traditionally dominated by large projects and large companies.

Patrick O'Halloran shifts the focus from customer needs and technology to the intellectual property and licensing issues that should not be overlooked, particularly by the consumers and providers of CEA platforms. After providing some necessary background, Patrick provides examples of how to address the implications of dependencies inherited from the use of CEA building blocks beyond a sandbox environment.

Jean-Pierre Poulin explains how his customers' reactions to phone features convinced him to give CEAs a closer look. He outlines the benefits of integrating telephony features into an application, describes the necessary conditions for this to be successful, and shares practical tips to help others overcome obstacles.

Elias Majic recently integrated voice and web conference services into an open source customer relationship management (CRM) system. He describes the key features of existing CRM systems and the increased value that can be achieved through communications enablement. His insights into the required technology choices and the general lessons he learned along the way are applicable beyond CRM systems.

Chris McPhee

Guest Editor

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