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Octel Lookup.

For the first decade-plus of my career, I worked for Accenture (née Andersen Consulting, née Arthur Andersen). This was in the early days of computing, when cellphones were the size of soda cans and the internet was just coming online.

When you wanted to contact someone else in the sprawling, multi-country organization, you had two options: send them a voicemail through the Octel system, or send them an email through Lotus Notes. And, at the time, most people chose the former.

This worked pretty well, but it was difficult to find the Octel node and mailbox number for people within the organization, as this information was distributed - originally - across a ton of city-specific databases with no comprehensive index across them all.

Out of frustration, I eventually sat down in the off hours with my work copy of Visual Basic 3) and started hashing out a little utility: type in part of a name, get a list of people and their contact information. With the help of a ragtag band of co-conspirators including Chris S., Eric U., Gary H., Stan T., Steve F., and others, we built a solid and reliable app.

By version 3, we had an entire production system in place, with app distribution and a monthly data extract, de-dupe, merge, and refresh process.

The funny thing is that, over time, this little 'app that could' became the de-facto lookup app within the company, with tens of thousands of users. Eventually, the source code was handed off to the CIO organization and they maintained it for several years after, until the advance of technology made it irrelevant.

Do you remember Octel Lookup? Let me know!


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