Blog post

The Beginning of the End of Voicemail

By Jack Santos | April 13, 2012 | 2 Comments

Sat in on a session at our local SIM chapter last night.  SIM is one of those professional groups that have been with me almost my whole career (ACM is another).

Ina Kamenz, the CIO at Thermo Fisher Scientific, gave a talk on hiring and retention issues and her POV.  Pretty good, Ina.  I sat at a table that included much of her staff, and it’s clear that they were supportive and cherished her leadership at Thermo Fisher.

One thing that she said was that she is shutting down voicemail, except for specific targeted business needs (Like customer service).  That’s interesting. Unified Communications in reverse.

Makes sense.  With ubiquitous business connectivity – IM, mobile apps, and email, voice mail has descended into irrelevance.  Most voicemail products  have added additional features – speech to text, email integration (often labeled Unified Communications).  That’s nice.  But even my log of voicemails is sparse these days: One message on April 2, then March 28,  27, Feb 14, January 3rd.  My personal voicemail is significantly more.

Her point is no voicemail is a step toward eliminating information clutter; voicemail is not justifiable for the cost.  Again – we are talking about this in general – but absolutely necessary for specific roles.  Wow – a step in the war against Information Overload.

I would add another point – it is another indicator that our view of devices and employee interaction is changing.  It’s not that we are eliminating voicemail entirely, but it is shifting to a personal tool, personally owned and brought to the job.  Concurrently, desk phones are going the way of the mastodon in lieu of cell phones.  Maybe that’s the impending trend – the elimination of wired connections for many roles.   Just like many of us have cut the wired cord at home.

My personal voicemail has more messages because it includes contacts that aren’t as connected, or are still working their way up the technology comfort food chain.  But that’s changing, too.

So what we are really seeing is a BYOV trend (YAA – Yet another acronym: Bring  Your Own Voicemail) – and not totally unrelated to the BYOD trend – especially for Smartphones.  Will voicemail go away? not entirely.  Or maybe what she really means is we are moving back to one-number access – and eliminating desktop phones and pbx-based voicemail.  In the future, will voicemail be delivered, owned, and operated by enterprise IT for every employee? probably not.

I agree Ina.  Show us the way. Time to rethink voice mail and its role in business in this era of extreme connectivity and mobility, and save some money in the process.

Do you agree?  Or do I see hate mail from PBX vendors in my future?

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  • Joe Topinka says:

    I agree that voice mail and it’s place office has changed dramatically. We leverage Microsoft Lync and many of us now use Exchange as our phone system. I do get a lot of voice mail messages, mostly from vendors. Lync does the speech-to-text translation which is fantastic. Often I can see the translation and determine if a return call or email is warrented.

    I can’t imagine voice mail disappering for a few years for us. I use voice mail more like email now with the Lync product. Thanks for the interesting and thought provoking post.

  • Jack Santos says:

    Great feedback Joe. Gee, predominantly vendor calls? all the more reason to blitz voicemail….yes I am seeing the same with Lync; MS seems to have hit another sharepoint-like motherlode with that product…