Interview with Ken Thompson – CEO of Swarmteams Ltd.
Below is an interview with Ken Thompson – CEO of Swarmteams Ltd. We hope you find the interview informative and useful. Please visit their website and check it out! www.swarmteams.com. You can also view a Flash Demo at: http://home.swarmteams.com/static/demos/SwarmteamsWebDemo2A_new/SwarmteamsWebDemo2A_new.html.
TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?
Mobile Group Messaging
Anywhere in the world
Across Mobile SMS, email, Instant Messaging, RSS, and the WEB
We have 4 products in the swarmteams family: “Swarm-it!”, “Swarm-pro!”, “Swarm-web!”, and “Swarm-api!”
a. Massively reduces the effort and pain involved in organizing your social group life
b. Puts you in control of your social group communicatio
A Group or Team or Network or Community (swarm-pro!)
a. Improved productivity and quicker decision-making by reducing group ‘down-time’
b. Better team member performance by giving everyone instant access
to the whole group’s ‘know-how’
An Organization or Enterprise (swarm-pro!)
a. Instant 2-way notification capability for the whole organization, no matter where anyone is in the world
b. Better use of the organization’s resources and effective sharing of knowledge
A Website or Web Application Owner (swarm-web! or swarm-api!)
a. Broader reach of the application or web-site to fully include people on the move and mobile phone users
b. Encourages much more user engagement and participation – turns user crowds into user communities – improved loyalty
TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?
Swarmteams: The four fundamental differences about Swarmteams are:
1. Its primarily about communicating first and social networking second – your social network is the by-product of your group communications
2. It runs on every mobile phone in the world – no downloads needed – no fancy phones – no wifi coverage required – just global SMS
3. It fully integrates mobile phone messaging and internet messaging
4. Its based on the theory of self-managed fast moving teams as opposed to slow command and control teams – it’s got a philosophy behind it: http://home.swarmteams.com/concepts
TechAddress: What are some of the main features?
Swarmteams: Swarm-it is for individuals in public communities
a. No downloads needed to your PC or phone
b. Any mobile phone or browser
c. Intelligent message routing across mobile, email and web
d. All replies neatly organized on web
e. Follow-me: all replies forwarded to your mobile phone
f. Group chat: all replies auto-forwarded to all members
Swarm-pro is for organizations in closed communities
All the features of swarm-it plus
a. Setup and configure closed swarm ecosystems involving many interlinked swarms
b. Brand and sub-brand the user interface for resellers, community owners and end-users
c. Range your messages to different swarm ‘rings’
d. Message and network between the different swarms in an ecosystem
e. Create automatic sub-swarms and issue reminders to those who have not replied
f. Manage and report on message delivery
g. Support star (owner managed), peer (user managed) and hybrid swarms
TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?
Swarmteams: Our end users are: Individuals, Communities/Networks, Distributed Enterprises. However, we reach these through hub organizations such as Virtual Community Owners, Membership Organizations, Information Publishers, Mobile Network Operators, Media Subscription Organizations, Distributed Enterprises, and eParticipation Organizations. We reach these hubs through partners, Mobile Phone Operators with large mobile phone user communities, Web Application developers who wish to include mobile group messaging in their apps., and Consultancies who work in various community spaces such as business and not for profit.
TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?
Swarmteams: Just about to release ‘Smart Messaging’: If the system has to reach you and you have SM switched on it will check to see if you are present on your instant messenger by pinging its presence server. If it finds you the message will be pinged to you. If it does not find you then the message will be texted to you via SMS on your mobile phone. Then the Swarm Directory: a public directory of joinable tagged Swarms. Public swarms can either be free to join or by subscription. Among other things it’s a great way for people with content to ‘repurpose’ it for SMS and groups.
TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?
Swarmteams: A major area for us is the release of the swarmteams api, which will allow web developers to build mobile group messaging into their applications. This is particularly relevant to social software, CRM and team applications. Our research has indicated that helping these applications break-out to mobile is a HUGE MARKET.
Market Size: $1.4 BN
Mobile Social Networking: $400M by 2009 (Frost & Sullivan)
Team Collaborative Applications: $750M by 2009 (IDC)
Mobile CRM: $500M by 2010 (IDC & Visiongain)
The current approach is to load the application on the mobile phone – this restricts it to high end phones in good coverage areas with constant download and upgrades to the phone software – we believe most people won’t want this. Our solution is that the web application sends text messages to the users phone which they can reply to our use to jump onto the web if their phones support it – that’s where we come in with the off-the shelf API.
TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?
Swarmteams: Most of our reviews have been very positive – here are all the ones we know of: http://home.swarmteams.com/newsitems/index/1
We have had some problems with the reliability of our SMS delivery – we offer global coverage through external providers and delivery responses can be patchy. We have addressed this by building in a portfolio of SMS providers with duplication of cover for key regions. We have built an SMS heartbeat which pings each of the providers to let us know their current round trip times. If it goes out of limits we can switch suppliers for a region. The second feedback we sometimes get is, “This is neat but what’s it for?” Because our ideas are so novel people sometimes don’t get it – like the early days of social software. We are building some wizards into the website to show people what it can be used for. Also some case studies are now being published: http://home.swarmteams.com/newsitems/index/2
TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?
Swarmteams: For groups to work better. In today’s fast moving environment, groups need to learn from nature.
a. Instant communications to any group member anywhere – this means mobile phone
b. Groups need to be more self-organizing and less leader controlled
c. Groups need to message and talk more and generate emails and documents less
TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?
Swarmteams: We think we are the only ones [in the mobile group messaging space] with a business model for organizations (with full supporting services) and not just individual consumers with all the commodity pricing pressures.
TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?
Swarmteams: We have just released first versions of the product. Next 3 months is getting reviews and customer pilots. Will need to be generating revenue and/or using external funding early 2007. So we are keeping our eyes open for innovative funders who understand how we have positioned ourselves and see the potential.
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