Visions of the Future!

A company can enjoy great success when the CEO possesses the visionary powers to recognize and seize upon game changing opportunities. The following are just a few examples of CEOs that took personal responsibility for the evaluation and execution of the first breakthrough Voicemail applications in the world. 

Edward Frankum, CEO - Trans World Airlines
Ed Frankum, an Air Force General in WWII, was CEO of the world's largest airline.  Al Whitmore, his chief of staff arranged for a demo during the weekly telephone conference call with station managers worldwide.  The management team convened in a conference room at Hanger 7 at JFK International airport.  Microphones and speakers hung from the ceiling so that everyone around the long table could participate on the call.    

The Voicemail application proposed for TWA was the delivery of several thousand flight assignments to pilots and flight attendants worldwide, each and every morning. The elimination of "on hold" time caused by the surge in calls and the reduction of a staff of several hundred schedulers were compelling arguments in terms of crew efficiency and cost savings. The tone of the meeting was lightened by the gymnastics required for demonstrating the service while standing on the conference table, holding a touch-tone dialer just below one of the microphones hanging from the ceiling. (Few touch tone telephones were in use at this time.)  

Captain Frankum watched the demonstration with no visible reactions that could sway his management team who expressed caution of such a radical change affecting thousands of employees and potentially impacting TWA flight operations. Captain Frankum abruptly sat forward in his chair and summarily dismissed all the negative comments with, "When can we start?"          
The credibility factor gained in achieving this first win was gigantic in Voicemail's pursuit of similar companies and opportunities!

Rune Arlidge, CEO, ABC Wide World of Sports
Wide World of Sports produces numerous sporting events around the globe on a continuing basis. Each event required daily scheduling of cameramen, electricians, mechanics and actors / participants in a constantly changing environment. The meeting at ABC headquarters in Manhattan was short and to the point.  The opportunity was great and the risks similar to TWA.  The decision to proceed was also similar in terms of the management team and Rune Arlidge who concluded the meeting with "We must do this as quickly as possible!"
William Dunn, CEO Dow Jones Information Services
Dow Jones was providing access to its data base of financial information via Quotron terminals located in financial centers and companies worldwide. Access by brokers, analysts and corporate offices was generally difficult during periods of high activity.

DJs attempted to broaden the access by introducing a news distribution service using FM transmitters that broadcast information to FM receivers located in subscriber offices.  News flashes would activate the receivers anytime and anyplace, often when the subscriber was conducting a meeting or on the telephone, not exactly a practical solution.  Cassettes tapes were added to the units so that broadcasts could be recorded during such periods but this complicated the process beyond an acceptable level. 

The concept of delivering stock quotes by telephone was much simpler and more subscriber friendly.  A call to Voicemail delivered price changes for one's personal list of stocks.  Keying the symbol for any stock delivered the current price and the recent price change.  Bill Dunn and his chief of staff Carl Valenti listened intently to the demonstration at their headquarters near the Newark Airport and DOWPHONE  was born, soon made available to brokers, companies and individuals worldwide from any telephone! 

Paul Barkley, CEO - Pacific Southwest Airlines
PSA was the leading west coast airline, offering hourly flights between major cities in California. Their frequent service, complimentory refreshments and hot pants clad flight attendants were very popular with business travelers.  And it wasn't unusual for the Pilots to play recordings such as "the Lone Ranger Rides Again... " just at liftoff.

For Paul Barkley and his SVP John Ford, their initial thought was to provide frequent flyers with late arrival and departure information.  A quick call to voicemail and entry of a flight number reported "on-time " or "new departure time " or "cancelled - Touch * to speak to a reservation agent.  PSA would soon add on-line reservations and crew scheduling. 

Larry Parker, CEO - Universal Studios.   
Universal Studios provided a service whereby all the movie studios could identify and contact Actors / Extras with suitable qualifications for upcoming productions.  Actors and Extra carried pagers and Operators in the Universal's call center routinely made calls and screened candidate for various parts available.  Actors and Extras routinely contacted the call center to inquire about upcoming parts.

Larry Parker saw the opportunity for voicemail to broadcast part availability to groups of potential candidates and the opportunity to build an inventory of parts that allowed individuals to search for openings by entering codes that defined specific qualifications. Universal eventually offered the service to all candidates looking for parts for a nominal subscription amount.       

Floyd Cox Jr.  CEO - Florafax Florists
Florafax specialized in long distance delivery of flowers to loved ones to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and special occasions. Floyd Wilcox envisioned Voicemail as an exciting enhancement to their delivery service.  The flower recipient would call a toll free number  printed on the traditional greeting card, enter a special number included and listen to the personal Voicemail previously recorded by a spouse, family member, friend or traveling spouse.  

A nationwide advertising program was launched on Good Morning America's with none other than Willard Scott as the face and voice of the "Talking Bouquet". The target audience for the program was people sending "I love you!" flowers to spouses. In retrospect it became evident that sending flowers to loved ones was generally a very emotional experience and that recording a voice message was not appropriate on this very personal occasion.  The program was not successful and was cancelled shortly after launch.

A short time later, Voicemail Japan introduced the Talking Bouquet placing ads in taxis, airports, restaurants, radio and TV.  The program brought huge successes within the entire Far East culture.