Nearly 150 years after the world-changing event when Alexander Graham Bell sent the first spoken words over a telephone line, some argue that electronic voice communication is declining in use and importance. american magazine, home business, reported in 2018: “For the first time ever, mobile voice calling has seen a decline in usage. … The focus is more on web usage, and data plans are growing while minutes are set aside.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, digital technologies have reinforced the importance of voice as a business communication tool.
This brandpost will refute the view that voice is losing its importance. He will demonstrate that digitized voice and the ability to convert speech to text, and vice versa, means that voice will play an increasingly important role as part of an integrated communication system. It enables businesses to operate efficiently and communicate both internally and externally in multiple ways that enhance the employee experience and meet customer needs and business goals.
In short, the time has come for a “new era of voice” where there is much tighter integration between voice and other business applications and communication systems.
Evolution of enterprise voice technology
Businesses quickly realized the power of voice technology and were early adopters. An important development, starting around the 1960s, was the private automatic exchange (PABX). This allowed calls to be made directly to people inside an organization and allowed an operator to reroute calls.
Another development popular with the business and consumer market was the answering machine and voice mail: messages could be received in the absence of the intended recipient. Mobile phone technology emerged in the 1980s, freeing voice communications from fixed locations.
The next big breakthrough was the ability to digitize voice and transmit it asynchronously over packet data networks like Ethernet and the Internet. Today we take IP telephony for granted, but in the beginning it was often said that packet voice would never replace analog or digital voice transmitted synchronously over dedicated links.
It is this ability to store, transmit and manipulate voice like any other digital information that has made possible many of the voice services we use today; services that ensure the future of voice.
The voice today – a changed landscape
You don’t have to look far to see that there has been a sea change in the way we use voice communications. Many residential customers have abandoned their fixed line and opted for mobile only. In business, an increasing number of employees are using their mobile phones for incoming and outgoing calls, bypassing the company phone system.
Voice-only teleconferencing has been almost entirely replaced by videoconferencing: a trend rapidly accelerated by the pandemic that two years ago made remote working the norm and eliminated nearly all face-to-face communication.
In their personal lives, people are now more likely to text or instant message, or connect through video apps, rather than making a quick phone call to family or friends.
However, we use voice technologies more than to talk to another human being. The combination of voice recognition and artificial intelligence has created a world where we can order food, play a TV show or a song, and more just by talking to an internet-connected device.
Voice has a unique advantage over other communication channels: it’s hands-free and eyeless.
In Australia, 42% of adults say they use a voice assistant such as Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. 26% own a smart speaker. Of these, 67% use it daily and 88% use it weekly. 70% of users say it makes their life easier and 41% wouldn’t want to go back to life without voice assistants.
And research shows that voice is becoming increasingly important to businesses. A RingCentral study of 3,000 SMB workers across multiple countries including Australia, 2022 State of Human Connections at Work, found that 76% believed their colleagues using voice communication were more connected to each other. 68% agreed that connecting online via voice or video calls was as effective as in-person communication for work-related tasks, and 69% believed that people making phone or video calls had better personal relationships with their colleagues.
The study concluded: “It is clear that voice communication is here to stay. Whether your team is working remotely, in the office, or both, encourage them to use voice communication more, which means picking up the phone instead of sending another email.
Voice: time for a new approach
Voice communications technology and the way we use it may have changed dramatically in the 150 years since the invention of the telephone, but humans haven’t changed for thousands of years: the voice remains our main means of communication. The ways we, and businesses in particular, use technology to extend the capabilities of the human voice have evolved in many directions.
Now is the time to look at all the technologies and applications that involve voice and say, “How do we maximize the potential of voice to meet our business needs and find innovative ways to deliver competitive advantage?”
Here are some examples.
Thomas Foods International Australia
After a series of acquisitions, Thomas Foods International Australia was left with seven different and aging PABXs at seven sites, all connected by PSTN services which were about to be replaced by NBN. It replaced them with a full-featured cloud phone system offering voice and video conferencing, online meetings, and desktop and mobile apps, deploying 175 endpoints across seven sites in less than three weeks. There is now a single collaboration platform at isolated regional sites, devices can move seamlessly with users, and a myriad of different web collaboration tools are no longer needed.
ANZ Chartered Accountants
Chartered Accountants ANZ (CA ANZ) has offices in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and the UK. He also has a hybrid working policy: three days working from home, two days in the office, with the whole team in the office one of these days.
It has implemented a single unified communications platform for all its countries of operation and staff that supports telephony, video and audio conferencing, contact center, analytics and reporting, as well as as integration with Microsoft Teams and Salesforce. Now, employees everywhere can grab a laptop, plug in a headset, and have all the resources they need to get the job done.
Mortgage Choice is an Australian franchisor with 430 franchised mortgage brokers. Its hosted IP PBX had no integration with the main applications used by staff: Google Workspace, Zendesk for ticketing and HubSpot and Microsoft Dynamics for CRM. It replaced that with a cloud-based Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) offering that natively integrates with all of those apps.
This has provided Mortgage Choice with an improved and consistent user and customer experience that is aligned with and leverages its brand. It is now able to offer its franchisees access to a shared UCaaS platform with enhanced functionality and integrated with its automated lead attribution engine.
RingCentral is a leading provider of cloud communication and contact center solutions based on its Message Video Phone (MVP) platform. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
RingCentral MVP is more flexible and cost effective than legacy on-premises PBX and video conferencing systems. It enables modern mobile and distributed workforces to communicate, collaborate, and connect through any mode, any device, and anywhere.
RingCentral MVP is an open platform that offers prebuilt integration with over 275 popular business applications such as Salesforce, Microsoft Teams and 365 and Google Cloud and access to over 6500 custom applications developed using its API integration.
RingCentral offers two key products in its portfolio: RingCentral MVP, a UCaaS platform that includes team messaging, video meetings, and a cloud phone system; and RingCentral Contact Center, a comprehensive cloud-based customer engagement platform.
The voice is the most natural means of human communication. For more than a century, it has been the main application of electronic communications.
Today, it has become possible to translate voice content into electronic and digital information and use this data for all sorts of business uses – including voiceprint verification, speech analysis and other AI applications – and to create voice from digital data.
These technologies open up possibilities for much closer integration between voice, other means of communication and other systems. The full potential of this integration is still being realized. It will be transformational.
Many companies already see the potential. Banking and financial services organizations surveyed by the Center for the Future of Work in 2020 estimate they will generate 8.4% of their revenue from voice over the next five years, retailers 8.2%, insurance 7 .6%, travel and hospitality 7.2% and manufacturing 7%. To achieve these goals, respondents estimate that they will invest 3% of their income in voice capacity building over the next five years.
What do you plan to do to exploit the full potential of today’s voice technologies? Let RingCentral show you what’s possible. Contact us today.