Ask your colleagues about the drawbacks of using cell phones, and youll hear a tirade about poor reception, high costs and difficult connections. But the convenience outweighs all that, theyll say. In an era when everyone is on the move, we cant imagine being chained to one location, awaiting calls on a landline phone. Today, we dole out countless numbers—home phone, cell phone, work phone … and the list goes on.
According to IDC, mobile workers in the United States exceed 35.7 million and will reach 47.1 million by 2003. The number of gadgets they carry also has risen. What was once a multitechnology blessing is now a time-consuming chore of keeping information under control. Needless to say, theres a missing link. Although we view technology as going hand-in-hand with convenience, were reluctant to accept the communications ideas that will simplify our lives.
By embracing voice as "data," we find a new glue to keep us in stride with our lifestyles. Technologies like unified messaging, multiple-person conference calling and "click-to-talk" Web applications demonstrate how entrepreneurial developments can keep us connected.
Is anyone ready to discard their telephone and rely solely on cell phones and PC-based phone calls? Probably not. Yet we can make it easier. Enhanced services and unified messaging provide a logical starting point. Using one number, we can reach users at any preexisting number—landline, cell phone, pager, etc. A unified messaging number means we can use services to communicate in a new way.
With slight mind shifts, doors open. We dont need to hand out seven different numbers whenever we go out. No longer must we separately call the office voice mail to hear about todays meeting developments. Hosting a conference call with investors on the way to the airport? We can do it all—from any phone, e-mail or PDA. Colleagues, the call to communications convenience is here. Just hop on board.
John Edwards is CEO of I-Link Inc., a communications ASP that helps service providers and developers bring VoIP solutions to market.