Enabling customer service with P2P

By Michael Vizard, InfoWorld |  Software

AS A STARTUP company expecting to use the Internet to facilitate interactions among companies and their customers, 3Path uses a new dedicated online service that makes use of push technology from BackWeb on a peer-to-peer service model. In an interview with InfoWorld Editor in Chief Michael Vizard, CEO Brian Smiga explains why this new type of service makes sense for any company that relies on the Internet to interact with customers.

InfoWorld: How do you describe 3Path?

Smiga: 3Path's vision is to enable priority channels between businesses and their best customers in order to deliver critical documents and content. The reason we're called 3Path is that if you're in business and you want to deliver priority content to your best customers electronically, you've really got only two channels. You can build a private extranet for each customer, or you can send them e-mail attachments. By themselves we think these are inadequate channels or paths to the customer. So we're a supplement to e-mail and extranets that essentially gives you a private dedicated pipe to your customer. We're a service that enables you to invite your customer to give you a branded space on their hard drive into which you can deliver documents in an organized way with notification, tracking, security, and other features.

InfoWorld: Sounds like an electronic equivalent of a Federal Express package.

Smiga: It is like the electronic equivalent of a FedEx, exactly. It's just that simple.

InfoWorld: What's the compelling business value for this approach?

Smiga: The problem with building private extranets for each and every customer is that it's expensive. Research also shows that your average business consumer goes to only seven Web sites on a recurring weekly basis. If you look over people's shoulders you'll see they have 30 bookmarks, but they really keep going back to only five or six or seven. Worse yet, your extranet can't deliver to your customers who are on notebooks when they're disconnected or when they're on dial-up connections, and 40 percent of your audience is on a dial-up or notebook computer. And finally, a Web site can't deliver perishable information effectively -- the problem is that almost all the information you have is perishable.

InfoWorld: Why not just rely on e-mail?

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