Future Semantics of the phone

The recent launch of talko a new mobile phone and team collaboration app, co-founded by Ray Ozzie, reassured me on one thing: Integrating and combining more of our human senses, like vision, hearing and even in near future maybe touching and even smelling together with more socio-psychological elements that stimulate and trigger emotions in our digital interaction environment, are not only on my bucket list for the enterprise!

Where ultimately the invention of the phone was to connect people in their personal lives before anything else, it soon found its use in doing business too! Its evolution is now following some same patterns but both worlds seem to be more interchanging with one another; business functionality and personal needs are now exchanging values rapidly.


Reinventing old functions


What I like about the concept of talko available in the Apple store by the way, can best be tagged as Conference Collaboration 3.0. It makes for a whole new experience when starting to use your mobile phone for some good old-fashioned conferencing with your team or customers because it integrates different contextual elements. Through the combination of voice messaging and recording, image sharing, text messaging, social tagging and networking all together in one activity stream, you instantly get a more richer, effective and personal experience.

In a recent interview with Verge Magazine, Ozzie, who was by the way founding father of one of the first collaboration platforms Lotus Notes (IBM) and Groove networks (MS) states:




And he is right in my opinion! Because of the explosion of new functionality we have seen in last years on the mobile consumer side, we are kind of making a natural shift of using what we like and than copying this to doing business too. From what I have seen many of us are already intensively using WhatsApp (now Facebook) and or other sharing app’s for business purposes, sometimes maybe taking for granted that these commercial platforms will own everything you put on them.

Having so many nice new social and collaborative functions available to us but working isolated to each other, not connected or integrated with other digital processes, does not add to the effectiveness organizations are looking for either. I’m kind of hoping that online app development regardless of the device will grow towards this soon since at this point many of the interactions and touch points between people and organizations I face remain impersonal and impractical benefiting neither the end user nor the organization.

Integrating business with personal life and vise versa

When considering the future ways of work, both internal with employees and external with customers and partners, using a phone is of course nothing new. But creating these more personal and integrated experiences when communicating and collaborating, in what for many people is part of core daily activities, can help to improve many things, especially now that many of our professional lives are increasingly mingling anyway.

Who of you can actually say that they have never dialed into a conference without being preoccupied with other things, either business or personal? I for sure cannot!

The reason was probably not only that you had to look at your computer to find some additional slides or text concerning the topic (who absorbs that kind of content anyway while trying to listen to the conversation?) but in some cases it would be because you were not yet personally introduced to some of the people in the call, hence the lack of personal relationship could also be part of the cause.

Digital fluency and the urge for more personal context.

Now many studies into the psychological aspects of using visuals in communication have shown that different parts of our sub consciousness brain are triggered by it, invoking emotions that help us to empathize with the topic (or person) and by doing so establishing a relationship of some kind.

Using the integration of real time voice and visuals in context can, in my opinion, contribute even more to building ‘real presence‘ (either emotionally and/or psychologically) with teams and individuals in any conversation. It makes for more empathic and active listening when the experience is infused with personal, though not always at first sight, business related elements. So setting up these newly integrated interactions via mobile can prove to be highly rewarding – phones being an extension of our arms in many cases already- making conversations much more personal than previous web-conferencing applications ever could because they now allow you to tap into the ‘connections’ between people on a deeper level. Understanding and learning how to best make use of these digital means and tools to connect, interpret, communicate and collaborate is what is called ‘ having the ability of Digital Fluency’ and most of the generation Z has this as a second nature already.

Virtual Reality transforms into Real Virtuality

I guess we have come to a point that we are beyond the question whether it is impolite to pick up a phone or text message while in a personal conversation, in the same way as it is impolite to interrupt someone when in a face to face conversation because in both cases it takes away from us being ‘present’ with the person you are talking to. But in the end isn’t the purpose of all of our interactions to get stuff done either with or without the help of digital means? And if so, isn’t getting things done all about triggering the right emotion through the right interaction with the right people at the right time ?

Maybe, the more aware and better we get at mastering and integrating those personal and emotional interactions as part of our virtual processes, the more considerate, polite and successful we might even become in the physical world too.

The author of this blog can be followed also on LinkedIn on her company page @mysocialsymphony.com