The Death of VoiceMail

by Colin Berkshire

I’m about to conduct an experiment. I think I am going to turn off my voicemail on my cell phone and office.

My new message will simple be: “Hi, this is Colin, please send me an email at [email protected]. I no longer use voice mail, so don’t leave a message.”

I wonder why there isn’t a special signal that smart phones can’t understand. After a few rings the call would be terminated and up would pop an empty email with my email address filled in. The caller could then just leave me an email.

Or, perhaps just add an Email button to the ringing screen. A caller could push this button and the call would terminate and a blank email with my address in it would be populated.

This doesn’t seem all that hard. Apple already has the match-up between my phone number and email. Where iPhone people call me the button could just appear on the ringing screen. This wouldn’t require a carrier to do anything.

Of course, it would be nice for this to be built into the network through some standard. Perhaps the IETF could set up a standard protocol for Busy/NoAnswer phone calls to transmit the called party’s email, or for a central database that has the phone-number-to-email pairings which could be sent over CCIS. (Oh, right, the IETF is asleep.)

There needs to be advancement in the transition of voice calls to data activities, such as:

  1. Call somebody and transition to leaving them an email.
  2. Call a company and instead of voice menus you see the menus on your phone, and after going through the menus you re-transition back to a voice call.
  3. When you are transferred within a company you have the ability to get back to the person you were previously speaking with.
  4. You can be on a voice call and share an HTTP web page session together while on the phone.
  5. People who want to talk with you can send a call queue request and I can look at my call queue and choose who I want to talk to next…and when I view the call queue the people who are idle and available would have an icon so I don’t waste time calling people who are on the phone or who are driving.
  6. I would like to see the agent/operator’s ID so that if I get bad service I can identify them. And, perhaps I should have a “Supervisor” button that I can call to reach that agent’s manager.
  7. Really, why aren’t we already doing these things. I don’t mean as a special feature on some proprietary system. Why aren’t these features all a standard that vendors can interoperate with each other on.

And, we wonder why the telecommunications industry is seeing declining opportunities.

It’s like the iPhone. The problem isn’t that the iPhone market has peaked. It is that for the moment Tim Cook’s Apple organization has run out of creativity. There are plenty of opportunities. His style of management just can’t see them.

And, we in the telecom industry are the same way. The opportunities are there. We just aren’t looking for them.