This Program Goes Way Beyond Caller I.D.

Tired of drawing a blank when some faintly familiar voice starts speaking at the other end of your phone line? How would you like your PC to pull up information about the caller, including what you discussed with him or her the last time you spoke--before you even pick up the phone. That's just one of the charms of a package from Answer Software, a Plano (Tex.) startup that wants to capitalize on emerging standards to link the telephone and the PC.

With software kings Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc. driving the new computer-telephone integration (CTI) standards, software such as Answer's can let users make and monitor phone calls right from the PC. Because the Windows-based package can tap into other applications, users can manage not only voice messages but also e-mail and faxes from one on-screen mailbox. And with more and more telephone switches "talking" to PCs, CTI software could really take off in the corporate market. Market researcher Tern Systems in Concord, Mass., figures that the entire market--including special customized CTI setups--could reach $1 billion by 1997. Other companies, such as VMX Inc. in San Jose and Active Voice Corp. in Kirkland, Wash., are working on similar technologies. Answer's package, geared for corporations with 150 people or more on a local area network, is due out by the second quarter.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.