Learning how to make the future do what you want

The best way to predict the future is to be a participant in the creation of what comes next. Nevertheless, we can learn a lot from the past, and how the “old guard” sometimes manages the new. If you were around in the Dotcom days, we simply did not have a reference model to look at for technical tools. In fact, everything was totally new and un-expected in the business world and change came fast, hard and “all of a sudden” it was just “like that”.

Today Unified Communications is quickly coming to the Contact Center. Yes, for the statisticians in all of us, we still cling to the phone as the “reference model”. But, we should not forget how quickly change comes. Have you talked to anyone recently from say 13 to 19 years old? Ask them what they think about using a phone to talk to somebody, or what an email address is used for other than setting up some account or giving to the cashier at the store when they press you for it. Putting the Contact Center into the hands of the consumer on the most prolific entity currently known makes not only good business sense, but is perhaps yesterdays news.

While it is true that the Contact Center does have telephonic media channels that are still considered “king of the hill” we can learn a lot about the behaviors of the market by looking at communications trends. When we were in Silicon Valley in the late 90’s, for us email and portable phones were our standard. Yet, anyone will tell you that in those days we did not have “40+ year old” executives that had this in their blood because they simply never grew up around technology as we did.

If you took funding off Sansome street in Palo Alto, the first thing they would do is send you a pack of suits (advisors) to join the management team. Well, these guys (and some girls) would show up with pencils and big thick note pads (looking like a bounded book) and scribble all day and look at us in scorn….. and even in some cases ban email usage in the meeting rooms! For the “suits” the method of working entailed meetings, discussions of SAP, and “processes” that were mind boggling. But, our work, over email and sometimes from home or in the car was scandalous.

FACT: today the amount of phone traffic has plummeted in contrast to the traffic over chat or images shared as a “message”. When the phone rings in my house and I look at my kids to pick it up; they say “it cannot be for me as my friends would never use the phone”. As bizarre as it was for the “suits”, because my parents could not keep us off the phone. So, if they will be taking over the old guard (us) in short order, does it not mean as they communicate to the support, billing or purchasing department their methods and demands will require change?

 

 

Working with our partners in the network operator segment we have developed Unified Communications for Contact Centers. Our unique focus on mobile loyalty application and WebRTC  that works for todays media choices of voice and email, yet also has chat, video and Biometrics that makes authentication “a touch” not “a snap” of the finger easy! Partner with us today to build a Cloud based Contact Center for your region and be a part of the future not the history.

Waves of innovation in communication technologies change us

I like to think about how we operated as kids in my days of using fixed line phones and voicemail machines to get organized for parties or meetups on the beach.  In California we perhaps were limited in the technologies, but never limited in imagination. We had ways to organize music events at the beach or in some house that had the parents away for the weekend. Progress in innovation has made our kids world today all about internet based communications and connectivity to information.

We were recently watching old movies during the holidays and my kids were just amazed at the people in “Beverly Hills Cop” not even having a mobile phone to call people on the move. Life for them is really all about being connected and having the ability to share info over communications channels that are “many”. For that era where I was about the same age as my kids, it was not imaginable to be 13 and have a magical little device (expensive one) that can essentially put me in touch with friends globally in live video or even see where they are walking using location services. We had paper maps! GPS was military stuff for rocket guidance, not finding a nearby starbucks. My kids have unbelievable power to communicate that has changed the way they “operate” and collaborate.

During these last few weeks of 2016 we have seen “shopping mall mass organizations” that are in the news because they are both linked to social media and also that the purpose was to form fights and disruptions at scale. These “instant crowds” are snapped together with little effort on the organizational side other than posting some compelling inspirations over tweets or instagrams. It appears that in many cities across the USA 100’s of teenagers are “snap organizing” fights and protests at local malls by simply broadcasting the “calling” to join over social media. These had me think about the numbers: 600+ teens organized at the swipe of the finger is amazing. It has changed how we operate, and the communications technology opens doors for things like business organizations, events, and feedback in channels for what we live and breathe: contact center unified commutations.

But with change and power there are risks, downsides and people emerge that try everything to stop or slow progress. For each new revolution the resistance is remarkably the same. If you lived thru the change that happened with email being introduced you will recall the pleas to regulate or abolish it. The same arguments were used for VoIP; we heard it cannot be allowed because of regulations for emergency calls, and of course it would be a tool for criminals. The same is being said about social media and how it is a phenomenon that creates mischief.

Today we are seeing the real need for security in social media.  To protect and preserve confidentiality certainly, but also to mitigate impersonation and data theft. Yet, whenever encryption is spoken about there is a chorus of people that claim it leads to criminality and we should keep our commutations somehow like an open post card that anyone can read, copy or manipulate. Kind of inverse to innovation huh?

For 20+ years we have seen email emerge, mature, then age and to some become a roadblock to efficiency; nevertheless email  became and still is the defacto standard to inner-operate communications between people, groups, and even large organizations. It also became the way to create accounts and establish an “identity” over the internet or even for your local government organization to add to your profile on their record base. Email at the end of the day is simply an Internet address space, and that concept will continue to evolve, I hope..

In many ways email was extended and enhanced to accommodate all the demands we put on the system that was really just a replacement for postcards, paper letters, envelops, postboxes, and mail men to move it around in the digital sense vs physical. We pushed those envelopes to also take “packages” of data, ISO images, HTML content and more. Email changed the way we live, and thru growing pains we adapted our society and processes as a personal or business entity. The evolution of email was real-time commutations and effectively the chat UX bloomed and blossomed into many different “gardens of social media groups”.

Another big change coming is brought to us from our kids: the way “news” information is distributed and consumed. For better or worse, the rise of sharing and opening up our lives began with reality TV. But all that has moved over to social media rapidly; TV screens, syndication and advertising have new meaning now. Stars are born with likes and follows at scales never imagined with “spins” in radio jockey days back on the beach in LA. A star today is a “social media influencer” and can be more powerful in 40 characters than “60 minutes” was on Sunday night.

Recently we have seen how twitter has thrust itself into the forefront of “news distribution” as a result of the political “reality show” that happened in 2016. Large media corporations have resisted fiercely the rise of social media, mocked it, claimed it is disinformation at best and fake malicious warfare in most cases in their view. But that is perhaps a lost war already when you turn on the TV and see every anchor sitting there with a twitter post on the screen as the topic of discussion for the day.

Imagine that in 100 places around the world this morning a prime minister, maybe a king, or the chancellor, perhaps the president of that country is looking at Twitter to see what was posted overnight by other leaders. At first this behavior was met with disgust and viewed as amateurish. This week I have taken a smile to see that those leaders around the world are now posting their thoughts and comments too on twitter and that is a good thing in my view as the sources are now front and center and this will change the way we operate, think, and make decisions.

X = “I believe that”

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It is quite apparent that mother nature and age is at play when you listen “older people” take issues with how the “young people” are doomed because they are not doing things the way they did this or that. Currently there is an interesting development in the chatting space of the internet; new languages are forming. For many millennials here in France texting “x” can mean not just one but several words and meanings. “I believe that” is at the basic form of “je crois”, but mated with images, the “X🙄” becomes maybe, maybe not, or much more. Keyboards based on avatars and smileys create stories that magically everyone “gets” faster, with emotion or feeling behind the words typed, than explaining something in the French language itself.

For a teacher I know at the languages school in the local University, “all of it” is pure armageddon; rendering the youth with “absurd competencies” utilizing “vocabularies in common” of less than 500 words in practice today. While she gleefully reported that people used to have 3000+ words of vocabulary not so long ago in her epoch. I am a little fascinated in the subject because it proves that we might be closer in fact to communicating with the Internet in ways that require less intrusive and perhaps more intuitive I/O; like not having to carry around these iPhones 24×7. Many of the French texting is intended to shorten the amounts of taps, but far more interesting to me is the use of phonetics and images to replace words rather than just using traditional abbreviation methods of chopping words. This is a lot more about “replacing” words with sound expressions. Example, moi becomes “mwa” not reducing the 3 taps, but rather it is the phonetic format of the original word. Even more interesting is that sometimes we see both “benefits” are accomplished when “t’es” becomes “t” and “c’est” becomes “c” in the phonetic and abbreviated formats together; resulting in shortening plus moving to phonetic expression.

Obviously we have seen before systems in the business world that reduce complexity on human-to-machine input-output. Take for example the “language” a Palm handheld introduced and some of us learned. It had the purpose to reduce the quantity of images and strokes we scribbled on the screen to become the “long form” of a language like English or French.  In my fathers office he did not have phones _without_ big wires and shielding cables, and there was not even a word processor, the dictionary was usually in the head of the secretary that would come and be responsible to deliver or “send” important communications. I remember this “special language” as a kid watching in amazement how fast it all went by my eyes and somehow to me there was “english” hidden there in a mysterious code. The secretary could take notes down at over 100 words a minute. Alas moving that code that was written comments before on a notepad (of paper) over to the typewriter “whack, tap, tap, tap, tap, rack, cling” took more time, yet was yet another method of communications language “learned”.

Later machines in stenotype doubled the speeds that my fathers secretary could achieve with the hand, and today most courtrooms and boardrooms use multi-media systems, that can even capture facial expressions, tonalities and perhaps more to come that will bring yet new aspects to our communications that were un-imaginable prior.

The argument might be that indeed I “should” need to know French, at least on some levels, to leverage the new language of French texting. However, if much of it is based on phonetics and images, and the vocabulary is 1/5 of the actual “spoken French” today, in terms of the spectrum of words I would have to learn, then maybe it would be better to just learn “text style French” and not traditional French at all. I mean if I want to interact with the French of tomorrow’s world, and if the rate of French moving into the “chatting space” is like an avalanche, why not start by learning “textoçaise” now? This of course means for my teacher’s view that that kids are not getting less, but rather something new, more powerful with added “features”…..maybe a replacement for French, at least for people outside France that might want to communicate to the “inside”.

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Without question the Internet molds the way we communicate in business into new forms of language at the core; meaning the added characters that are imagery based and a preponderance of informalities unthinkable just 20 years back. Fact: we must have an I/O method adaptable to the machines and network we transmit across. However, looking at the performance gains in speed and diffusion we have achieved already, one would have to imagine that “real soon now” (RSN) we will need to un-lock the potential of our bodies to adapt to new sensors that will not be limited to the alphabetic inputs we use today, tap, tap tap, heads down…..but perhaps have capacities to transmit not only emotional language, with imagery in not icon formats, but really felt and seen. Now that would be a tidewave of human evolution indeed.

REFERENCES:

Gregg shorthand – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_shorthand

Stentype – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stenotype

 

Experiencing the transition

Eleven years ago I was getting on a plane from São Paulo to Romania. Many hours later, me and my also 17 years old girl friends were dropping our bags at the hostel and looking for a computer to let our parents know we got therIMG_6961e ok. No sight of a computer or internet. My poor parents worried sick for 3 days until we went to Austria and found a cyber cafe.

Today I live in Europe and call my parents, and even text my grandparents, whenever I want from anywhere on my phone.

The way we commuIMG_6959nicate changed so much in the last decade that today people like me are called “digital nomads”, which means that my job lets me move to a different continent without losing any work or changing my contract. I have never even met my boss in person! I know that she is blond with blue eyes because we are Facebook friends.

IMG_6960I had the opportunity to transition from a beautiful electric typing machine to a bulky white computer that allowed me not only to write my scary stories but also to play pinball and solitaire. The cool kids in school were starting to trade their walkman for diskman, but the real shock was when I came to class with my father’s – gigantic – cellphone. My dad loves technology and aways tried to keep up with the trends. I remember our first digital camera was big enough to carry a floppy disk that could storage up to three photos!!!

Kids nowadays are born touching screens and pressing buttons. Teenagers share every second of their days with the world and my grandma gets new recipes from the Web. Even though, communication skills are decreasing, at least the face-to-face type. With endless resources to express yourself on the keyboard, we are getting used to looking down at our devices to connect to people.

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Everything is made available for us and is within reach. Controlling and screening the information we absorb is getting more and more difficult. Everything we have today is stored – from bank information to your medical history, from important transactions to a picture of your last meal. It is imperative to keep all this data secured and technology is advancing quickly to ensure that.

Communication is life

From the minute we are born we start communicating. A look, a gesture, a sound and, eventually, words. Communication is a process of “life” exchange dated back to prehistoric times. Year after year the communication tools and technologies change and this evolution is rapidly transforming the actual social behavior of humans.

No need to go as far as cave paintings but the evolution from pen and paper to smartphones in the last 4 decades has divided generations into distinct nomenclature. Baby boomers had buttons on their desk to call secretaries to take notes; but for Millennially notes became voice recordings activated by calling Siri and pressing nothing.  It does not matter if  it was photos using dyes or charcoal, images describe feelings and are obviously much more powerful today and can be broadcast to millions in a New York minute.

Our social fabric today can be extremely accurate with photos, animated gifs and videos, plus you don’t need to wait weeks to receive a letter from your loved one; you can see if your message was sent, read and answered in seconds. Virtual Reality is here, and actually began with individual media types over the Internet many years ago. Reading emails made me feel closer to those I connected with 10 years ago, and this came more personal with video, and joining smell, test and touch will enable us to communicate in ways our grand parents could not imagine and might fear. Today we strive to be more connected, more understanding, and tolerant, each based step still on the age old communications link from one to another, but perhaps this time with feeling.

What is next? Built-in  (to our bodies) devices  that allow hands-free activity, writing texts with simple hand gestures in the air or reading shopping lists displayed in the corner of your eyes while walking around the supermarket? Most of these things are possible and most are being pushed thru R&D labs today. But, no matter what path technology takes, communication is a human feature and we will change faster thru more powerful communications.