10/5/2017

Last night, I came home late. And this morning, a bit fuzzy and still quite tired, I forgot my cell phone. I thought I would not survive without it. And then, finally back at the office, I found my bearings thanks to ... my landline.

Last night, I came home late. And this morning, a bit fuzzy and still quite tired, I forgot my cell phone. I thought I would not survive without it. And then, finally back at the office, I found my bearings thanks to ... my landline.

I am in charge of communications for a digital strategy consultancy which employs 70 people. As you can imagine, the days begin early and often end late. Last night after a dinner with partners I got home after midnight, exhausted after a busy day.

6:45 - I leave home. I take advantage of the early morning to avoid the rush hour traffic. My first appointment of the day is at 8:00 a.m. downtown. I have an appointment with a person I have known for many years and I know how to get there with my eyes closed.

7:50 - Arrived at my appointment and I immediately realized that I had left my mobile phone at home. I had plugged it in to recharge by the front door and I left without it. It would be impossible to get back home and I had to spend the whole morning at this appointment. I will have to spend all day without it! In my 15-year career, this had never happened to me before.

I did not immediately appreciate the gravity of the situation. But, in reality, it is a disaster. My mobile phone is my second brain, my third hand, my fourth eye! I cannot do anything without it. Fortunately, I know where my first two appointments of the day are and I just have to find a way to check where my third appointment is (I know that it's a lunch but that is all!)

10:00 - The company I work for has a unified messaging service that lets me receive all my voice messages by email. I find a cafe. By connecting my PC using my 4G key, I can download and listen to my messages. It is not practical, but  between appointments I can check all the important information about my schedule. I also manage to send an email to my colleague so that she can route the calls going to my mobile through to my fixed line. This will allow her to manage any emergencies. The unified communications service we have is great. To me, this type of service is the future. I recently read that corporate spending on unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions will increase by 6.5% per annum to reach 2 billion euros in 2020.

12:30 - I was able to retrieve my main voice messages and reply to them by email. And I know where I'm going to lunch at noon. It’s not necessarily convenient to be sitting in my car to connect to my voicemail via my computer.

1:00 - Lunch time arrives. I meet an important partner for the first time. I am a little anxious because, if we decide to set a date to see each other again or I need to check any other information, I do not have a connection at hand: No paper diary available, no messenger or search engine to check in case of doubt.

As usual, I am open with him. Yes, it’s incredible but true, I left my mobile phone at home this morning! My lunch partner laughs and then lets me in on his deepest secret - that he would also be completely lost without his cell phone. "I would have had to go home to pick him up - even if I had to cancel my first appointment of the day! I find it impossible to function without it!", he confides.

3:00 - My lunch went very well and forgetting my mobile made a good topic for conversation. We laughed. I arrive at the office and there I come face-to-face with my destiny: My landline telephone! It seems to be taunting me with its little flashing LED: "You never paid attention to me until now! Now you have no choice! You are stuck with me for the rest of the day at least!"

I look away, embarrassed. How can we still be reliant on this old technology from a bygone age, the very antithesis of mobility? If I have to go to a meeting two floors below, what am I meant to do? Dangle a cable through the window to stay in contact? All these cables and wires, what a nightmare! It looks like some kind of ghost ship tied up, moored at the harbor. Due to a stream of consciousness, I begin to think about the "Black Pearl" from the film "Pirates of the Caribbean".

When I think that there are still 13 million landlines in France, which Orange wants to get rid of by 2021, and that some opinion research companies question the future of the landline in their surveys, I worry about the future of the humble landline.

3:40 - Suddenly, my landline starts ringing.I wonder if it was listening to my innermost thoughts? Hesitant, I pick up ... Johnny Depp, alias Jack Sparrow, is on the line - will he insult me? I quickly come back to reality. At the other end of the line, my assistant reminds me that we have a "conf call" in five minutes. Since I do not know how to use this curious beast in front of me, she will have to set up the conference call.

3:45 - The "conf call" goes well. In the end, I would go as far as to say it was a rather positive experience. Easy setup, two or three buttons to press, very good sound quality. I did not have to worry about whether the network was good enough nor did I need to mess around with the keyboard on my smartphone. I am starting to review my skepticism about this relic which, at the end of the day, has its place on every desk in almost all the offices across the whole company.

4:00 - As I begin to discover and appreciate the basic functions of my landline telephone, my colleague takes the opportunity to install, on my laptop, the telephony software from our provider of unified messaging.

She quickly shows me that I can make a call using click-to-call from my computer. She also shows me that I can automate making outgoing calls from my computer (thanks to the CTI function, which stands for Computer Telephony Integration) and integrate call scenarios. My brain mulls it over. I can see new opportunities for my team and also for the sales team if we can transform our offices into call centers.

Seeing my interest grow, my colleague seizes the opportunity. It is the ideal moment to perfect my education on the full gamut of opportunities that can come with fixed IP telephony. She shows me that I can choose the number presented during an outgoing call, configure automatic call backs and intercept a call received on another phone.

In short, this good "old" fixed line telephone that I thought outdated is actually full of resources that, too often, remain unknown and unexplored. In a nutshell, it is the beating heart, the central unit of my unified communications system. Deprived of my mobile phone for a day, I was delighted to explore and exploit all its features and, in addition to emails of course, to rely on it. I blame myself for having forgotten how useful and reliable it is.

About the author
Blog author fabrice deblock 82x82

Fabrice Deblock

Communication and Training Director at Keley Consulting

Fabrice Deblock is Communication and Training Director at Keley Consulting, a digital strategy consulting group. He was previously Director of conferences and training at CCM Benchmark (Groupe Figaro).

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