Azure Integration with voice and SMS via Twilio


It’s a fancy word, but ‘telephony’ just got a little smarter now that Microsoft is partnering with cloud-based telephony provider, Twilio.

A recent news item in Redmond Developer, reports the Microsoft Azure Integration will help developers in two key ways: building voice and short-text-messaging (SMS)-enabled apps, all running on the Windows Azure cloud service.

“Twilio’s APIs will work with applications built in Java, .NET and PHP running on Windows Azure. ‘Sending text…from Windows Azure has never been easier,’ said Brian Goldfarb, director of product marketing for Microsoft’s Windows Azure group.”

The ability to initiate and receive phone calls from mobile and Web applications is at the core of this merging of technology; developers will be able to integrate the systems to allow mobile and Web apps to initiate and receive phones.

In addition, the APIs bring together voice messaging, interactive voice response and text capabilities.

According to Jon Plax, Twilio’s director of product management, “We present simply RESTful APIs, that…require a very basic developer skill set to utilize. You don’t have to be a telecom wonk in order to build applications that do interactive voice communications or interactive SMS.”

Twilio uses a web-service API with a straightforward outcome:

  1. A user makes or sends a SMS to a Twilio number
  2. Once received, it sends back a request to the application
  3. Your app receives…sends XML back to Twilio
  4. Twilio translates, executes and interacts with user.

The new venture will be of particular interest to developers working with mobile and Web-based customer relationship management (CRM) apps.

Overall, the API will greatly simplify access to telecom networks, opening the door for business owners to increase the viability of their marketing via smartphones.

Mobile Web Development: increase customer loyalty and conversion rates


You put a lot of thought into creating what you feel is a pretty darn-good website. The process included hundreds of hours of research; design ideas by the score and maybe a focus session or two—not to mention the late-night discussions with a few, trusted advisers.

Overall, the website has been well received, plus the analytics coming in point to favorable ‘first-time unique visitors’ and an increase in click-thru’s.

But something’s missing in all the lessons learned, particularly with the high-percentage of smartphone users searching, gathering and deciding on what’s relevant to them: frankly, you feel you can do a better job in your Mobile Web Development.

A recent article in Small Business Trends, an online publication, challenges the business owner to get smart about making their websites integrate with the “Iphone instead of their iMac,” for example.

Here’s a summary of the post’s “4 Reasons Customers Prefer Your Mobile Web site:”

A stronger user-center design: Forget about showing off your website’s videos, flashing lights and spinning dogs; concentrate on a slim-down version with smart-users specific needs and quicker navigation.

Fewer Distractions: Simply give your visitor fewer choices to get them where you want them to go—you might be able to tweak your conversion rate by leading them to the click-thru and purchase more quickly.

Faster loading times: We want speed, velocity and blazing-fast load times, always. So, expect the smartphone user to want the same. Use Google’s analytical site to see how your traditional website compares before making it mobile-friendly.

Quicker access to social goods: Make it easy for them to scroll to your social media icons, like Facebook and Twitter so prospective customers can see who else is on board with your products and services.

Add zip to social media plan with Facebook plugin development


The social media marketing boom continues to build and business owners are constantly looking for new ways to add punch to their social media presence. If they are not, they should be.

There is nothing static about the social media scene. Marketers who put up a Facebook page, start a Twitter account, get a LinkedIn page (or use any other social media site) and figure they are finished are going to be disappointed.

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Small businesses gaining from mobile web development


If you are a small business owner and you haven’t gone mobile yet, you are falling behind the curve.

A recent survey of small business (defined as having 2 to 50 employees) done by AT&T revealed the following:

  • 72 percent of respondents use mobile and 38 percent credit mobile apps with their business survival.
  • 40 percent say their employees use mobile devices and wireless connections when working outside the office.
  • 33 percent say they are using cloud-based software.
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