There is a lot of thinking about how our enterprise communications work and how today’s technology can improve the traditional costs and productivity challenges. And there are a lot of inefficiencies in our traditional voice communications for a lot of traditionally good reasons—that aren’t so meaningful today.
Much of our professional communication has moved to text-based modes (like email and IM) because our applications process this media as true data and therefore bypass many traditional hindrances that still impede voice. This shift is not away from voice, per se, but a shift to more efficient processing methods. These text-based applications are more efficient with our time and attention. They make us more productive.
Unified communications is a movement to at least put a layer on the top of the silo’d voice and text messages that enables us to see and manage everything from one “inbox”. This is progress, but the modes of communication are still discreet. Live voice never rendezvous with text messaging, for example. But what if they weren’t separate silos or separate applications? What if the application you used was indifferent to the type of communications: live or timeshifted, text or voice, or video?
We would propose a couple key ideas:
- Voice is a natural and productive way for us to communicate.
- Voice is made inefficient by the technologies we use to manage it.
- We can reclaim the efficiencies of voice, by changing the technologies we use to manage it.
Then we ask three key questions:
- What does the optimal communication experience look like?
- Why not apply all the principles we used to efficiently process data to equally efficiently manage voice applications?
- Since communication is a prime activity and a driver of productivity, how can new models of voice communications increase productivity?
So what would the most productive voice application enable us to do? You should be able to do what you want when you want, via any form of media, regardless of other conditions in the network or other people’s attention. This implies the following capabilities:
- Speak to people live if that is what you want to do.
- Speak instantly to an individual or group (that means not dialing, not waiting for network services, IP addresses, or anyone to answer), knowing that they will hear it live if they want to listen now or they will receive it and listen whenever they want.
- Listen to messages instantly.
- Process your conversations and messages even if you don’t have any network at the moment.
- Process your conversations on whatever device you want at any time—that is, everything is everywhere. You can use the device that is most convenient right now.
- Listen to live conversations or conference calls after the fact without missing anything; either because you arrive late, you have to leave momentarily to do something else (like take another call), or you didn’t make it at all. And to do it efficiently: play faster, play only selected people or selected portions. And do it on the plane tomorrow, when you’ll have more time.
- Manage multiple conversations at the same time; for example, when you are on a conference call and a high priority call comes in, you can pause the conference call and take the high priority call, knowing that you can go back to the live group call and catch up without missing anything. You get to make your own choices about what is more important at any time.
- Receive and create messages in the meaningful context of conversations; not random lists of messages ordered by time.
- Contribute to conversations with the most appropriate media in any moment: live voice, voice messages, text, or video.
- Receive messages in the media format you prefer at the moment with a system that automatically converts the format if necessary. (If you’re driving you want to talk and hear audio; if you’re in a meeting you want to type and read.) And this is regardless of how the other participants are choosing to send their messages.
How do these features increase productivity? The productivity comes from being efficient with your attention and your time, and organizing your communications more meaningfully. It entails having applications that are flexible enough for you to always be able to do just what you need to do, and not be constrained by the technology. It also means that the technology should not waste your time for any reason—you don’t wait for it, it serves you just as you want it to. And next time, you can do it differently—-but all the same system, all the same application.
Powerful next generation IP networks that support mobility, like LTE, enable these rich applications to do whatever necessary to support the optimal user experience. RebelVox joined the ng Connect program earlier this year to get ahead of the curve when it comes to thinking through the implications LTE can have on the efficiency and ease with which people communicate. Because of their high speed, these networks do not need to force the user to cope with unnecessary limitations, but support whatever choices the user wants to make. This enables the ultimate in productivity for all communications, but becomes a significant measurable value for the enterprise.
Mary Panttaja, Vice President Product Management, RebelVox