Did you know that Cape Cod hosted the first telegraph cable to directly connect Europe to the US? In 1897, it was successfully laid along 3,173 nautical miles under the ocean. A stone’s throw from our headquarters, this landmark got me thinking about how communication has evolved over the years.
A lot has changed since the era of transatlantic telegraphs, and most would argue for the better. From telephone to voicemail, fax machines to pagers, SMS texting to FaceTime, we see, hear, and express our thoughts and opinions – business or pleasure – in entirely new ways.
Innovation was greeted equally by awe and resistance at each milestone as people were challenged to incorporate new technology into their way of life. Despite the advantages, technology takes a while to become engrained into our day-to-day activities.
Today we find ourselves at a similar fork in the road as companies choose to part ways with outdated telephony systems in favor of solutions that support a level of flexibility in the future of work that only cloud-based communication platforms can provide. What can they learn by looking to the past? For one, change is necessary; it’s how and when you make the change that matters. Here’s why:
Disruption fuels economic progress
Look no further than the Pony Express, which helped businesses and individuals share information dramatically faster through coast-to-coast communication via the Great Plains relay station mail route. Faster information sharing translated to greater productivity; that is, until the telegraph entered the scene, making the Pony Express obsolete shortly thereafter. Even still, transition can take years with some preferring to stick to the “old way of doing things.” Early adoption provides competitive advantage to those who hop on first. They’re able to realize gains from that calculated risk sooner than others.
Today, the time is ripe for companies willing to invest in UCaaS. With less than 10 percent market penetration, the cost savings alone helps provide a leg up for business. With the increased flexibility it provides organizations to better support the increasing number of remote offices and distributed knowledge workers, it is no wonder that even Gartner, in their most recent Magic Quadrant confirmed that UCaaS has graduated from its early adoption phase to an early mainstream phase. With additional incentives such as improved productivity and more regular collaboration between team members, the benefits speak for themselves. First movers also get to broadcast their innovative status, demonstrating their willingness to address changing preferences head on.
Supporting better judgment with speed and access to information
Simply stated: improved access to information enables you to make better decisions. A lot could change between sending that initial telegraph and receiving a response. The same could be said today if you fail to capture data from customer and prospect interactions, as well as conversations across teams. From establishing consensus on critical actions to improving future decision making, communication is the bedrock of any enterprise. It’s what you do with that knowledge that moves business forward.
Crossing the divide when communication breaks down
When you send a message, how confident are you it is received with the right intention, or received at all? Text-based communication can leave ample room for misinterpretation.
Today, automated email receipt notifications and text delivery updates can verify whether our message was in fact shared with its intended recipient. That’s only half the battle, however. Communication can still break down in different ways and human error is always a factor. Give teams the ability to benefit from modern technology so they can collaborate and interact when, where, and how they prefer while communicating clearly. The magic happens when this takes place across modes, effortlessly transitioning from video to chat to phone to email in a way previously unimaginable.
Nikola Tesla captured it well, when he had a vision for what was possible for the future of communication as far back as 1926: "When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket."
To harness all the promise of change, let’s help today’s leaders reimagine the future of communication inside their organizations. Innovation is a good thing, and there’s no time like the present to embrace it.
Here's our visualization of the convergence of enterprise communications.