Advances to Phone Technology… Finally?

It’s 2019, Why Are We Stuck with Decades Old Tech?

Am I the only one who has wondered how it can be 2019 and fundamental call technology has not changed since the late 1990s. (VOIP was the last real technology and that rolled out to businesses in 1995, gaining widespread adoption a decade later.) Yet, those of us who live on conference calls for a living have remained largely overlooked — creating quite a few problems for workers who need their phones to be, uh, a phone.

Problem #1: The Conference Call Lag

Anyone who’s dialed into a conference call knows how stilted they sound. It’s because everyone’s communication is delayed to broadcast. While it’s not the 7 seconds you get on live radio and t.v., it’s long enough to disrupt the flow of normal conversation. When you don’t have the nonverbal cues you gain from seeing someone, these lags can kill the productivity of a conference call. I hypothesize this is the number one reason people tune out on conference calls — the lag that makes a stilted conversation.

Problem #2: Codes, Codes and More Codes

When we talk about friction in systems, conference codes and leader pins top the list. If you’re calling from your mobile, you need your mobile to see the code. Or if you happen to be lucky enough to have your computer in front of you, the code is usually buried at the bottom of an email, in print that is too fine to read. (Well, maybe that last part just relates to me.)

Problem #3: The Quagmire of Web Conferencing

So you want to host a web call so you can see your colleagues face to face. This will likely be your journey – download the proprietary software onto your computer and make sure it works before the web conference. Then at the time of the web conference, connect via web first, then get a code for the dial in or audio enablement. So. Many. Steps. Sure Google Hangout and Skype make things slightly easier, but they are primarily computer-based also (not mobile).

Relief on the Horizon?

In November of 2018, I posted my quandry about why we still needed conference call dial ins and codes when it seems that we should have advanced past that and one of my friends drew my attention to NetLines. NetLines is essentially an app that turns your smart phone into a conference call, business-doing, productivity machine.


Why It’s Hot

As I mentioned above, phone features of mobile (and other phones) have been ignored for two decades. It’s about time someone brought a lower friction solution to market. I’m just surprised they haven’t gotten more buzz about this.

Christmas Advertising: The I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying Edition

John Lewis & Partners Christmas advertisement is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated annual ad campaign. And for good reason. Year after year, the retailer launches beautifully crafted stories that tug at the heartstrings of millions about the beauty of the season. And every year, those who follow the ads wonder how they will make a better ad next year. But they do.

Titled, The Boy & The Piano, the ad tells the true story of how a Christmas gift – a piano belonging to Elton’s grandmother – went on to inspire the music icon’s life, working backwards chronologically from the present day to the moment he received the present from his mum as a young child.

As the ad highlights Elton’s proudest career moments, his most famous tune ‘Your Song’ provides the soundtrack to the 2-minute-and-20-second film.

Why It’s Hot

Simply put, it’s pitch-perfect storytelling.

Light Up Dr. Bear

Despite Children’s Hospital renowned success, they still struggle to bring in donations year after year. So this year, they turned to creative partner SmithGifford to help solve this problem of donor fatigue.

The solution? Light-up bears (the unofficial mascot of Children’s National) are placed strategically around the city where by a simple text donation, anyone can donate $10. The delight is that your texted donation lights up both the bear in front of you and a bear in the room of a child staying at Children’s, completing that necessary feedback element of knowing the impact of a donation.

Why It’s Hot

Rather than tugging at the heart strings (solely) the way many giving campaigns do, this one gives both the donor and patients feedback as the donations are happening. Plus, wouldn’t you pay a small price to see the Dr. Bear light up and know you gave to a worthy cause?

Yeti’s Wild 10-Year Party

Yeti celebrated its Tundra coolers’ 10th birthday by throwing a party. But it wasn’t your average, expected, self-referential brand party full of champagne and celebrities. Instead, Yeti set out on a ten city tour where they featured a film about stories from the wild.

Yeti’s heritage has always been serving their customers, the wild ones, as they call them — the outdoors men and women who live for the adventure in life by spending a lot of time outside. And this film series hero’ed these ambassadors, how they live their lives and what makes them come alive. It’s a tactic Yeti uses often, a story well told, but it’s one that works and is now an essential element their brand.

Why It Was Hot 

The idea of this birthday celebration is so perfectly Yeti. It’s not just about their brand, it is their brand made into a birthday celebration.

But the bigger story, I think, is the word-of-mouth-marketing aspect of it. It’s an anecdote from my own life, but I think it’s a strong point that I heard about this film tour from a friend of mine who has seen me carry a Yeti rambler for the better part of a year. And simply, she just thought I would like to know about it.

There’s something so interesting about being a strong, modern brand that lives an analog life on purpose to include every part of the customer’s journey with the brand.

BMW Ringtones

BMW Financial Services wanted to interact with drivers more often than just at the beginning and end of their auto loan or lease. Pulling sounds from a real BMW 3 Series “driving machine,” BMWFS created a website that lets visitors design and download from a library of ringtones, even giving drivers the option to design their own.

The site designer from Partners + Napier describes it as, “… truly deliver(ing) a positive brand experience – every time your phone rings.”

How do drivers find these ringtones? In addition to buzz in BMW forums and social media, the ringtones are delivered to each BMWFS account holder on his or her birthday, far different any crummy canned message or expected discount you might get from other brands on your birthday.

Take a listen to the ringtones here.

Why its hot?
1) Surprise and delight meets long-term usefulness: BMW drivers know the brand for sending surprise and delight swag, but this one also delivers value. Unlike a hand-drawn image of your car series or a discount for your birthday, this is one drivers will likely use for awhile, keeping the brand top-of-mind without being intrusive.

2) Insight: The brand knows its customer (they call them drivers) well. BMW drivers love the sounds of their car (or even the car they aspire to have). BMW knows this and acted on it.