Thought for the day: What's your number?

With the new Directory Services in place, Simon Moores advises businesses to make sure they know what number will offer them the...

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With the new Directory Services in place, Simon Moores advises businesses to make sure they know what number will offer them the best value.




If you make a mobile phone call in the city, I am told your position can be reliably fixed within 50m, through triangulation of the mobile phone nodes.

I was visiting 192.Com and was having a demonstration of the technology it plans to add to its Directory Services (DQ) offering in what will become a highly competitive market from next month.

Only about 30% of the population realise that this month, thanks to deregulation, the old directory enquiries services 192, will be switched off and we’ll have to choose from among 10 new DQ services with variations on the number 118, such as BT with 118500, the Gay & Lesbian Directory with 118453 and the tightly business-focused 192.Com with 118119.

Most businesses, it appears, haven’t given much or any thought at all to the costs of using the directory services and which offers the best value.

Some will be in for a nasty shock when their first phone bill arrives, because new "added-value" services with call completion and other attractions could make a directory enquiries call feel more like a premium rate service.

Strangely enough, of the 10 principal DQ providers, only 192.Com is focusing exclusively on the enterprise market and it’s the only one with 87 million records and the electoral roll, cleaned and grid-referenced to support the arrival of location-based services.

From their website, by telephone or direct to the corporate Lan, 192.Com hopes to offer business a powerful information service.

An example of this might be a businessman going to a meeting in London, and wants to locate the exact address of his client.

A call to 118119 identifies his position and the operator offers to send a map and directions to his iPAQ. Our man is early and is waiting for a colleague and wishes to find a Starbucks with a wireless point to catch up with some work while he waits, and so the operator sends him the positions of the nearest coffee bar to his position and offers to send the same details to his colleague’s mobile phone or PDA.

Business-directed DQ calls account for more than half of the UK market, generating more than 160 million landline minutes per year. Typical corporate DQ services span number search, consumer and business list broking, address verification, electoral roll licences, demographic data, company and director reports. 

Future corporate services will include a much broader range of data, which may include customer e-mail and IP addresses and third-generation services, which can include video clips.

However, the problem for business lies in knowing how much these benefits will cost, particularly, as 192’s director Ian Green points out, if you happen to be a government department making just under a million calls each year.

My advice, and I’m carrying out detailed research on the market, is for business to start thinking how it's going to make use of these new services without paying over the odds.

A great deal of money is going into making these numbers memorable, such as 118118 and it’s likely that many people will dial on memory and not on cost.

The best solution for business appears to lie with a hybrid, phone/Lan/internet information service of the kind that 192.Com is planning and which appears to offer better control of costs which, otherwise, might spiral out of control.

The collision of directory-based information with a range of different identity, mapping and location-based services is about to create an industry which business will, increasingly, rely upon for a number of integrated information services.

In theory, such services should be instantly available at the edge of company Lan - and they soon will be. The problem, however, lies in the costs management implications of something which was a previously known quantity with BT.

Is this an IT issue, a telephony issue or a business issue? In fact, it’s a mix of all three and with August upon us, if you don’t yet know which of the new DQ services best suits your business needs and your IT function, then now is possibly a good time to find out.

What do you think?

Do you have a DQ strategy in place?  Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the website. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.

Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of eGovernment and information security.

For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit


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