The long-distance call turns 101 years old

It’s not crazy anymore to think that our phone calls should assist us.

The long-distance call turns 101 years old

In 1915, it took five operators and 23 minutes to connect the first transcontinental call between New York and San Francisco. Today, more than a century later, phone calls are more reliable and less expensive, but no more dynamic than they were in 1915. The dial tone is still dumb — and what used to pass for a call feature, operator assistance, is no longer relevant to people who have experienced a search engine.

Operator assisted calls on AT&T’s network have declined 18% annually over the last five years and have plunged 93% from their 2004 levels. Verizon filed a petition with the FCC to drop 800 services completely. Is it a good thing that archaic network-dependent services are disappearing? Is it a bad thing that smart, network-agnostic services are not filling the void? We think the answer to both questions is yes.

It’s not crazy anymore to think that our phone calls should assist us. Communication services that integrate awareness capabilities and learn from users provide compounding organizational benefits. To put these benefits in perspective, consider email and messaging apps. Imagine algorithms not filtering your company’s email for spam, recognizing important messages or understanding search queries. Imagine machine-learning engines not organizing your media streams, suggesting relevant business contacts or marketing actions. Imagine chatbots not routing questions and tasks inside your messenger app. The technical leverage machine intelligence provides over an organization’s communication is tremendous.

Here at Gridspace, we think voice applications strengthened by advancements in speech recognition and natural language understanding are about to change what’s possible with phone calls. Phone calls are information-dense, yet completely ignored by most businesses software.

The complexity of our jobs is higher than ever, but we’re confident that smarter calls can help us succeed. We think smarter calls require all the benefits of modern software. We couldn’t be more excited to finally bring that to you.

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