Reading about the launch of Tello, a software application aimed at the idea of “presence” — in other words, helping people figure out where you are and then helping them reach you with the appropriate phone or other device — reminded me that I wanted to blog about a chat I recently had with one of the co-founders of another “presence” company, Ottawa-based Iotum. I’m planning to write more about the company for globeandmail.com, but here’s a taste.

Howard Thaw, a serial entrepeneur who started the company with former Microsoftie Alec Saunders (one of a small group of CEOs who blog), told me a bit about the company and its solution, which Iotum calls a “relevance engine.” Essentially, it is a kind of personal assistant that learns through heuristics, which Howard knows well from a previous venture, Thunderbyte anti-virus software. In effect, it is designed to learn what phone calls or voice messages or IM pings or VOIP calls to put through to where, based on your past behaviour and a set of rules it develops.

Iotum has just recently come out of “stealth” mode, and has been selected to present at the DEMO conference in February, a fairly exclusive conference run by Chris Shipley and aimed primarily at startups and early-stage venture capital. As Howard described it, the API for the Iotum engine will be open for developers to add functionality, and so that other companies and applications can “plug in” to the software and add features — something Alec says would apply to a product such as Tello. Coincidentally enough (or not), VOIP pioneer Jeff Pulver, who is one of the founders of Tello along with John Sculley of IBM and Apple fame, is on the Iotum board of advisors.

Will such “presence”-oriented apps catch on with a time-pressed and increasingly fragmented consumer? Mike at TechDirt remains skeptical, as do VOIP blogger Tom Keating, Oliver over at MobileCrunch and Stowe Boyd, but Iotum and Tello — and some high-profile finance types, in the latter case — are banking on it.

Update:

Andy Abramson has a nice overview post in which he discuss Tello and Iotum (whom he works for as a communications consultant).

About the author

Mathew 2414 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

9 Responses to “Tello and Iotum do the “presence” thing”
  1. Discussion: POP! PR Jots, Peer Pressure, Alec Saunders .LOG, J. LeRoy, Marketing Begins At Home,mathewingram.com/work and Message

  2. and Om Malik. When news of Tello first broke, it was picked up by a number of bloggers including: Alec Saunders, Andy Abramson, Bruce Stewart, Michael Eisenberg, Staysafe Security systems, TechCrunch,Mathew Ingram, Techdirt, Tom Keating, MobileCrunch, Stowe Boyd, Business2blog, Al Brendenberg, Irwin Lazar, Nitin Badjatia, Cynthia Brumfield,Daniel Davenport, viola39, Raymond Weklar, Ron Jeffries, John Cook and

  3. and especially in the blogospere: When news of Tello first broke, it was picked up by a number of bloggers including: Alec Saunders, Andy Abramson, Bruce Stewart, Michael Eisenberg, Staysafe Security systems, TechCrunch,Mathew Winggram, Techdirt, Tom Keating, MobileCrunch, Stowe Boyd, Business2blog, Al Brendenberg, Irwin Lazar, Nitin Badjatia, Cynthia Brumfield,Daniel Davenport, viola39, Raymond Weklar, Ron Jeffries, John Cook and

  4. on Chit-chat with Mark Spencer VoIP & Gadgets Blog on Zoep VoIP client with Firefox plugin and Jabber support Voip News on Zoep Voip client con plugin Firefox e Jabber XMPP mathewingram.com on Tello and Iotum do the “presence” thing VoIP & Gadgets Blog on Tello a near term solution?

  5. Interesting that you used the Iotum angle/comparison. I contemplated making the almost identical comparison as well, but the blog entry was pretty long as it was. I’ve been meaning to meet with Iotum to actually see their product in action and hope to do so this week at the Internet Telephony conference. Maybe I’ll have some further thoughts on presence and intelligent routing of interactions at that point.

    p.s. great post.Will have to add you to my RSS Reader

  6. Thanks for the comment, Tom — and for the compliment. I enjoy your blog as well.

    Mathew

  7. […] In Tello and Iotum do the “presence” thing, the Globe’s Mathew Ingram compares Tello and iotum.  There are many similarities but also many differences.  He concludes with:  Will such “presence”-oriented apps catch on with a time-pressed and increasingly fragmented consumer? Mike at TechDirt remains skeptical, as do VOIP blogger Tom Keating, Oliver over at MobileCrunch and Stowe Boydt, but Iotum and Tello — and some high-profile finance types, in the latter case — are banking on it. Throughout the day I’ve been getting a steady stream of emails from people wanting to know if Tello and iotum are competitors.  Right now, the answer to that is no.  We’re complementary technologies.  Tello is focused on some complicated, real work signalling problems.  iotum, on the other hand, is building a behavioural analysis system, in essence.  iotum’s core competency is relevance. Anyway, congratulations to the Tello team.  It’s been a long time coming! […]

  8. […] with del.icio.us   |   Email this entry   |   TrackBack URI   |   Digg it   |   Track with co.mments   |     |   Cosmos Click here forcopyright permissions! Copyright 2006 Mathew Ingram […]

  9. […] Reading about the launch of Tello, a software application aimed at the idea of “presence” — in other words, helping people figure out where you are and then helping them reach you with the appropriate phone or other device — re… mathewingram.com/work on January 23rd, 2006 at 5:59 PM – Permalink […]

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