Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Oh, Mandi, They Came and You Gave Them My Number

Everyone who's ever worked in an office knows that it's the secretaries that bring order to chaos. Sadly, we often take them for granted as they so efficiently go about their proscribed routine. It's when we cut the corporate umbilical and go out on our own that it suddenly dawns on us that chaos has reared its ugly head and there's no one to keep things running like the proverbial clockwork. You know you need a secretary. But you look at your budget and sigh. Alas, there's no hope you can afford someone to keep things organized. Or, perhaps, there is.

Meet your new assistant, Mandi. No, not the Mandy of Manilow song. This is Mandi, your virtual assistant. She's got your number. Phone number, that is. Hire Mandi and she'll manage your phone calls like the living, breathing assistant you can't afford. Mandi you can afford.

Mandi is a professional Electronic Voice Assistant. She's part of the SpeechPhone family of speech-driven personal assistants. The key idea here is "speech-driven." This is what separates Mandi from the usual automated attendants and answering machines. Mandi will answer your phone 24/7 and screen each call. She'll route them to wherever you happen to be and let you know who's calling so you can decide whether you're "in" or not. If not, Mandi will dutifully take a message.

When you order Mandi, you are assigned a personal local phone number. This is the one number that you publish and tell people. It matters not that you have 4 different phones in 4 different locations. Mandi will track you down when your services are needed and no one else has to know your real phone number.

What's really cool is the speech driven technology. You talk to Mandi just like you would a live secretary. With respect, of course. You say things like "get messages" and you'll get your new phone messages. Now say "call back" and Mandi dials that caller back. For some real fun, say "get email messages." Mandi will do just that and carefully read them to you over the phone. Then you have the options to save, delete, copy or reply to your messages, all by voice command.

Peeking behind the curtain, you should know that SpeechPhone services run on carrier grade Lucent Speech Servers that include robust Automatic Speech Recognition and Text to Speech technology that has been developed by Bell Laboratories. This is professional grade communications for working professionals. The amazing thing is that it's available in a price range that makes it perfect for mobile professionals and small office / home office users.

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