BT puts 'six degrees of separation' theory to the test

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BT puts 'six degrees of separation' theory to the test

Antony Savvas

BT has developed a phone directory system that uses peoples’ social networks to help them make quicker connections.

It is speculated that most people on earth are separated from each other by no more than six degrees of separation, or six friends of friends or even work colleagues.

Artificial intelligence software developed by BT can now put such a theory into practice to improve business efficiency.

BT researchers have developed an intelligent contacts directory called small world directories or “Sword”, designed to save time and effort in finding the right person, and make much more efficient use of extensive company databases.

Sword helps users find and contact the person they are looking for much faster by learning about users’ own social networks and usage patterns.

While online directories within large organisations have made it much easier to find people’s phone numbers, contacting the right person can still be a tricky business.

Sword updates users’ personal contacts profiles according to the frequency and number of calls they make to colleagues. So as they contact people, Sword builds up information that increases the chance of providing the right number at the top of the list next time around.

The system also locates colleagues’ numbers by grouping and ranking them according to various predefined criteria, such as their organisational unit within a large company, or their geographical location.

Several BT corporate customers are now testing Sword.

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