Voice is Dead

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You Are Here:Voice is Dead

A bold statement but one that needs some thought behind it. At a conference recently I asked a simple question about IM usage. Essentially I asked how many people had significantly reduced their voice usage instead leaning towards IM as their preferred communication method. Granted it was a small percentage that raised their hands (maybe 20%) but I attribute the small number to the fact that many aren’t fully using IM in the workplace. Shortly after I got to thinking…the industry I work in has been heavily driving towards a model where voice is a critical service. In reality though I’d be more at a loss if my SMS or IM service failed. The days of me receiving and returning 10-20 calls a day are gone. Instead I spend most of my time communicating via instant messaging.
As another proof point take a look around you and count the number of people SMSing or using voice alternatives like CrackBerries. How often do you see a CrackBerry user actually using it for voice? When I walk into an Internet cafe I see the majority of users are chatting on IM…rarely do I see a voice call…in fact more often I’ll see a video IM call (without voice). Essentially our communication habits are changing now that we have the facilities to communicate in a more effective manner.
So does this mean we’ve got it wrong? Well I think there will always be a need for voice. But when I think of how my normal calling habits flow it usually starts with an IM asking if the person can talk…then I try connecting with a voice session. If the Quality of Service is garbage I simply revert back to IM and am reasonably content. I guess what I’m saying is I’m starting to feel a little uncomfortable with a next generation network designed around strict and complex requirements to deliver a service that is dying. Well ok…not dying…but becoming a significantly smaller and less critical portion of the traffic.
Now…ask yourself…which service would impact your productivity more if it were to disappear? Maybe it’s time we stripped ourselves of our legacy thinking and started designing networks around what we see emerging as 21st century communication.

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