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Tap into e-mail on the road

October 24, 2001 

For professionals on the move, accessing e-mail can be tough.

Sure, PDAs and notebook computers have made it easier but those are still clunky solutions when you're stuck in an airport terminal or slogging through traffic on Highway 101.

That's where Adomo (, a Cupertino company that is selling voice-activated e-mail, enters the picture. Adomo has come up with a solution that is already working for businesses.

Adomo's product uses a telephone line to tap into a company's Microsoft Exchange network -- which includes address books, contact lists and, of course, the e-mail Inbox.

That means that executives with access to a phone, whether a pay phone in an airport terminal or a cell phone in the briefcase, can call into the network to scan the inbox, have their e-mails read to them and record a reply in their own voice.

But unlike other voice-activated systems, Adomo's technology is user-friendly, understanding that voice commands of ``Check my e-mail'' or ``Read my messages'' are synonymous. Likewise, the technology understands accents -- from native Californians to Texans to Europeans.

The system only works with English, now, but a Mandarin version is in the works and should be ready by early next year.

``E-mail is probably the most mission-critical software application running at any company,'' said Adomo CEO Jeff Snider. ``About 25 to 30 percent of a company's employees are mobile and they have no easy or fast way to access their corporate e-mail. In business, it can make a difference whether you get an e-mail now or five hours from now.''

Adomo's technology is based around a telephone hub, which allows multiple users to call into the server and work their e-mail as if they were seated in front of their computer.

Keith Hannah, information technology manager for the Institute of Child Health at the University of Florida, said Adomo's technology has allowed employees to be productive at times when they normally might be stuck twiddling their thumbs.

``It's helped a lot with getting work done, especially with the airport delays now,'' Hannah said. ``Our users had been limited to e-mail in hotel rooms from a laptop, but now when they're stuck at the airport, they get more done than they would if they'd been on the plane.''

It's a tough sell to business clients, who have to ask themselves whether the product is worth the initial investment, said Michael King, a senior industry analyst with Dataquest-Gartner.

Snider argues that the equipment pays for itself in gained work hours. A six-port hub, which provides six telephone access points into the e-mail network, runs $7,995.

Snider is selling Adomo's technology as a money-saver for businesses trying to eliminate down time for mobile employees and reduce the risk of lost or delayed communications between employees and their clients.

``Beyond the return on investment, companies have to ask themselves how many business deals are lost because e-mail communications were lost for hours, simply because the employee couldn't get to it,'' Snider said.

BY SAM DIAZ, Mercury News. Copyright © 2001

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