The Demise of Telecom Part2

by Colin Berkshire

Colin Here. I complain that the basic problem in telecom is an utter lack of creative problem solving. I don’t know if this is because people in telecom aren’t all that creative or if it is because organizations have become unreceptive to innovation. But it bothers me, because I am an ex-telcom guy.

In my last blog I used an example of how cell phones are becoming the new queuing device for government offices in Asia. They keep you informed and let you keep busy while you are in queue.

In response, people challenged me and said this was only one example, not a general case. So let me spout about creative ideas that never were for a moment. All of these things I wish we had, and I don’t understand why we don’t have.

I have an office and an office phone with an extension, Why doesn’t that phone have bluetooth built into it? Why can’t I scroll through my cell phone’s contacts from the desk phone? Why does the phone even bother to ring when I am not in my office? Can’t they use the bluetooth connection to detect if I am nearby? And, when I am away, why aren’t my calls automatically forwarded either to my cell phone or to the desk phone closest to me? This doesn’t seem like rocket science at all. I certainly can’t be the only person to want to get office phone calls when I am wandering the building.

Why can’t I use visual voice mail on my office voice mail system? Why isn’t there an iPhone app that lets me access office voice mails? But then again, why is there an office voice mail system at all? Shouldn’t all messages just be recorded and be forwarded to my email? Perhaps there are office-class systems that do this (like Google Voice does) but our telecom guys sure don’t know about them.

When I am working late at night, why doesn’t the office lighting system know where I am and just light the fixtures around me? My phone would be a great way of communicating.

When I am in the office, why doesn’t my phone identify the building, floor, and room that I am in? Yes, I know about “Find my Friends” but that doesn’t identify my current location and I really don’t want the office to know when I have snuck-off on a personal errand. That is, why can’t my phone know where the office building is and when I am in the complex why can’t it locate me on a map? When I am in the office my phone should locate me precisely and let anybody within the company find me.

I handle a lot of paperwork, still. Why doesn’t that paperwork have bar codes? And, why am I not scanning those barcodes using my phone? Each folder (like a personnel folder) then could have a handling history and we know know everybody that touched it and where it currently is? Does the telecom department feel that phones should not be used like this? I don’t get it.

In japan you walk up to a vending machine on the street, make a selection, and slap your cell phone to a payment pad. Your phone is charged and you get your goodie without handling any change. As a bonus, the machine owner instantly gets an electronic notice and can see machine inventory in real-time…along with things like the temperature inside the machine. Do the cell phone companies not recognize what an amazing opportunity they have to challenge the likes of Visa and Master Card? In Japan and some Asian countries you can pay your subway fare using your cell phone.

When I am away, my computer should lock up. When I return my computer should unlock. It’s a perfect use of a cell phone and bluetooth. The extra cost would be zero.

When I am in the office on my office phone, why can’t I transfer the call to my cell phone so I can leave, jump in my car all while continuing the call uninterrupted? Surely the telecom folks can figure out how to do something that simple. No?

When I call the local utility, why don’t they thank me for the call and hang up. They would then send me an SMS and keep me in queue. When the time arrived they would call me back…but only when my cell phone was idle. Yes, I know that cell phones would need busy/idle signalling, and that the utility would need to know that I was calling from a cell phone. But heck, you would think the cell phone companies would promote that type of application. Basically, the utility would get the call, use the Caller ID to inquire a cell phone database, determine if the call was from a cell phone, and if it was would initiate a cell phone queue/callback. This is not complicated stuff.

I could go on and on about the frustrations in life that could be solved easily. Every time it comes back to this: the phone system (or cell phone) is proprietary, we don’t have programmers, and we can’t do that.

I understand “long live touch-tone” as a telecom manager’s motto. But let’s not forget that touch-tone was invented over 50 years ago.

Yes, I think telecom is dead.